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Shift from Viral Hits to Sustained Reach

Meme culture has come a long way. It started during the early days of the internet and matured from something a small group did online into the foundation of some of the biggest media companies today. Memes will never slow down, as the density of our information and social graphs grow, and the spread of messages across the world become faster every day, week, month, and year.

How companies are built around this culture is changing dramatically though. The last five years saw a massive rise of companies that were playing the meme-repurposing game. Combined with arbitrage, they were spending money on things people were likely to share and creating companies with multimillion dollar valuations. But the algorithms have shifted now, and these quick hits are no longer creating any kind of foundation to stand on.


It's much more than just the algorithms that have shifted — our behavior has too. On every social platform you will notice posts that have gone massively viral, and if you check the creator's stats, their follower counts can still be tiny. This is because we're no longer looking to follow the creators of these memes. We assume they'll find their way into our social feed, and we'll sometimes appreciate and spread their work.

This shift is very hard on some companies, many of which are going ahead and shutting their doors for good and finding something else to work on. But this shift is really beautiful for the creators who have kept their focus on being genuine about what they create. The most valuable memes are actually content gems — movies, articles, poems, cartoons, games — that connect with us in such a deep way that we must convince our friends and family to read them, play them, watch them, and cry, laugh, and scream along with us.

Instead of focusing on viral reach that manifests in quick hits and low-quality content, the exact thing that Facebook is trying to eradicate from its platform, your focus now has to be on sustained reach instead of fleeting viral moments.

The Sharing Economy Is in a Recession

If the sharing economy isn't in a recession, then it's in a full-on depression. Facebook's recent algorithm update in January 2018 has proven detrimental to publishers who rely heavily on the platform for referral traffic. What's being dubbed the "friends and family" update has deprioritized news stories in the News Feed in favor of content from friends and Groups. For social publishers who put all of their eggs in Facebook's basket, the algorithm change translated into nearly zero visibility. We saw the effects of this when LittleThings — a once vibrant media company — recently shuttered its digital doors due to Facebook's shift. In its prime, the viral publisher garnered over 12 million Facebook followers within its first couple years of life, and saw drool-worthy metrics across all of its posts and videos. LittleThings blamed the "friends and family" update for knocking out 75% of its organic traffic and hammering its profit margins.

They're not the only social publisher to shut down following the Facebook algorithm shakeup either. Those who don't have the right mix of content to adapt to the new reality are doomed, and these are the companies that are unfortunately folding. Brands that were using dark posts and tricking the system to maintain visibility — instead of working toward organic virality — can no longer sustain the model. They've been playing arbitrage games with lower-quality posts, and the latest update has put an end to the long-term success of that strategy.

Sustained Reach vs. Quick Hits

It's time for all of us to stop chasing viral hits, and begin focusing on creating sustained reach through meaningful content instead. This means you can't focus on Facebook reach alone. You have to diversify across platforms and channels to realize your true potential and reach your maximum audience.

Don't get us wrong — it's extremely rewarding to gain traction from a viral hit. But you have to know how to maintain that traction once it's taken hold, and then grow a loyal following from it. Viral hits give publishers the spikes they crave, but it's paying close attention to the loyalty metrics that will give you the sustained reach that lasts. To build sustained reach, focus on these pillars:

Meaningful Content: Meaningful content evokes emotion and fosters a deeper connection than a quick hit. It's the kind of content that readers consume actively rather than passively — the content that resonates with your audience and makes them crave more of it. This sustainable content model drives repeat, direct visits, and it fosters the type of organic loyalty you simply can't create by adhering to the pay-to-play mantra.

Search Engine Optimization: SEO still plays a critical role in the visibility and sustainability of your content. Relying on social only will inevitably lead to a dead end. The dynamics of search have evolved considerably over recent years, but its importance is more relevant than ever in light of the increasingly unpredictable algorithms.

Loyalty Metrics: Vanity metrics are out, and loyalty metrics are in. Metrics such as pageviews encourage us to focus on outlier bumps in traffic that eventually bleed off and evaporate. Instead, look at more long-term loyalty metrics. There are a number of ways to measure loyalty, and a good place to start is by focusing on:

Return Visitors: How many of your sessions aren't new? What percentage of your traffic is coming from people who have visited you before? Is it trending in the right direction?

Bounce Rate: How many pages per session are users looking at? What's the average session duration like? What types of content are you publishing that keeps visitors from bouncing away?

Goal Completion: Are users converting against the goals you've set up on your site? E.g., scrolled past a certain point, clicked a specific call to action, engaged with some kind of interactive module, etc.

When it comes to overall traffic, you want to measure your performance against the depth of your troughs (sustained reach) instead of the height of your peaks (viral hits). Bestselling author Andrew Davis describes this concept as valley elevation.

At the end of February 2018, RebelMouse-powered Azula saw exponential growth by taking a quick hit and actively pushing it to make it stick and become sustainable on its own.

Their site grew by over 40% thanks to the viral growth — lasting weeks — and their overall valley growth has steadily increased since they finished replatforming with us at the end of August 2017.

Get the most out of your content and turn those fleeting traffic spikes into sustained growth. Our team of strategy experts can help you develop the concepts and organic loyalty you need to prosper in the age of social. Request a proposal today.

Why RebelMouse Is the Best Content Marketing Platform

RebelMouse is a unique platform and company. The company was founded on the vision that media companies would need an always-modern solution to thrive in the new connected internet, and that brands would have to behave like new media companies and use the same platforms.

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The Intersection of Design and Development: Where Your Clients Thrive

We started RebelMouse seven years ago knowing that there was a fundamental design flaw in the world of traditional CMSs: Every instance, on every platform, had to be updated independently. It's similar to an era when users had to manage their own Microsoft Exchange Server for email. The costs of managing, maintaining, and iterating on a CMS to keep it awesome and world class is typically a $10 million-a-year endeavor. But even then, these cost-prohibitive CMSs are still behind the times.

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There are many popular tools that allow you to perform experiments and A/B tests on your users — primarily Google Chrome Experiments and Optimizely. But all of these solutions are JavaScript additions to your web page that sidestep the problem of old, outdated, and clumsy CMSs. These solutions work by calling on a third-party JavaScript library that rewrites a page after it's rendered. This approach adds extra page weight and creates strange user experiences due to having to wait for everything to load and be rewritten on the fly.

At RebelMouse, we've solved this in a very elegant way. At the core level of our platform, we can natively render different layouts and track the exact differences in performance when comparing a test to your other layouts.

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Whether you're a brand with a blog or a media company with a site, driving purchasing behavior and building an audience that uses your content to find things they love to buy is vital. We're very proud to have built out the same functionality that everyone is now used to on Instagram, with layovers on images that lead to products with attribution.

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RebelMouse is much more than just a replacement for a traditional CMS. Our platform is a tremendous community-building experience. Today's social ecosystem has given us a seemingly limitless number of premium creators who understand how to create gorgeous and relevant content that drives the growth of their own audiences. These creators and influencers are either experts in certain topics, or heavily engaged in targeted content that drives their interests. They're not only consuming the content they're passionate about, but they're contributing to the conversation, too. The new role of the editor is not just to cover the most important topics and people around their expertise, but also to invite those preferred influencers into their community and get them to participate in creating premium content.

Read our deck here...

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Dynamic Voting: Grow Traffic and Engagement Organically

Help your audience find its voice.

Creating quality content is no longer on marketers alone. We live in a universe of creators who are willing to not only consume content that resonates, but play a role in the creation, promotion, and conversations surrounding it.

Since the start of RebelMouse, we've been on a journey to create dynamic media that is easier for content creators to curate and amplify on social. It's why we've built an online engagement platform centered around the power of communities that thrive naturally in the digital ecosystem.

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In order to define distributive publishing, we have to ask the following question: If you have quality content, but nobody sees it, does it even exist? The answer is no, because your content needs to be supported in a way that lets it move seamlessly across all channels, especially site, search, and social. But let's take this question a step further: If you can't monetize your content to generate the support it needs, how do you create quality content in the first place?

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Facebook Offering Small Business Grants Program During COVID-19 Crisis

Program to provide $100 million in cash grants and ad credits for small businesses

Publishers big and small all over the globe are grappling with the financial constraints caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Trying to find the right brand messaging in this unprecedented time is a balance that none of us have ever faced before.

We've developed a live-blog experience that's designed to maximize your potential on search. Keep your audiences up to date by the second as they turn to you for the latest news, updates, and guidance. This feature is free to government and healthcare organizations for immediate use.

In an effort to help ease the strain on publishers, Facebook has announced a Small Business Grants program for publishers. The social network is offering $100 million in cash grants and ad credits during the crisis. The offer is available for up to 30,000 eligible small businesses across 30 countries.

More information on how to apply for the program is forthcoming. Click here to learn more and sign up for updates. Check out Facebook's COVID-19 Business Resource Hub here.

Live-Blog Feature: Publish Real-Time Updates + Maximize Search Performance

Make sure your audience never misses an update

Many organizations are facing communication challenges after the recent outbreak of COVID-19. With so much information available everywhere, it is harder than ever to control the message of your own audience.

At RebelMouse, we're constantly iterating on our platform to help you make your content as relevant as possible. In the current news environment, staying on top of breaking stories using live blogs is incredibly important.

We've implemented our own version of the live-blog experience that's designed to maximize your potential on search. We power this new functionality using WebSockets, which allows for near-instant updates.

The advantage of creating a live blog using RebelMouse is that we index each live-blog update for search so that you receive SEO credit for every single update. This means if one of your live-blog updates hits on a key search phrase, it can drive a lot of traffic from search. This is superior to the traditional way of doing live updates where it was simply embedded JavaScript loading posts.

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The RebelMouse Creative Agency

  • Built for Times of Uncertainty
    • RebelMouse has had a distributed, remote workforce for years:
      • Our team collaborates easily across time zones.
      • Leaders in the company excelled within an ethos of remote work.
      • Our growth-centric team has worked closely together for years.
      • RebelMouse is made up of 60 people in 28 countries, exempt from any risk of a centralized shutdown.
      • Iterative culture that allows us to adapt rapidly to change
      • Diversified portfolio - we have clients across every vertical and every business type. Our solution works for brands and media companies of varying sizes and any content vertical
    • We're the best in breaking news and crisis communications:
      • Our digital services agency built the version of Axios that fueled their rapid growth, making them a new media giant over the past three years.
      • United Airlines uses RebelMouse's agency and tech services to power their content hub and communicate with customers.
      • We're the agency behind La Verità, a subscription-based news site in Milan, Italy that has been at the center of the COVID-19 crisis.
    • We build products designed for a mobile, office-less world:
      • Editors, writers, reporters, and creators can keep up with breaking news and vital edits, and can create content all on their mobile device.
      • In times of crisis, being fast to respond is critical. Solutions that require a desktop environment to create and edit content are no longer appropriate.
    • We don't require any new capital:
      • Our business can elegantly move up and down like an accordion to fit in the current publishing climate.
      • RebelMouse has not required capital for over three years, and is in a strong cash position to survive hard economic times.
    • "No business travel" has been our company policy for many years:
      • It's our policy to avoid business travel if possible. We haven't required a single in-person meeting to close a new deal or launch a new property in years.
      • We know how to work with clients through technology to understand each other and deliver what's needed for success.
      • Our unique work culture makes us very resilient in times where business travel is shut down.
  • Lower-Cost Products With Bigger Returns
    • We build best-in-class digital experiences:
      • The RebelMouse CMS will outperform any platform on page speed, stability, and breadth of features.
      • We power massively popular websites and scale without breaking a sweat.
      • Our CEO is a technical, product-focused person who built HuffPost. The team she's built at RebelMouse since 2012 is passionate about products that outperform.
  • Digital Growth Specialists
    • RebelMouse + Media companies:
      • We grow RPMs.
      • We improve ad visibility.
      • We create new opportunities for digital revenue.
        • Paywalls
        • E-commerce
        • Native advertising
        • Programmatic advertising
    • RebelMouse + Brands:
      • Our digital agency helps brands reach potential customers at scale by winning in search and social.
      • We put in better conversion units and the data systems to track iterations on the metrics that matter.
      • RebelMouse technology builds smarter, faster pages that convert better for paid campaigns.

Learn more about the team at RebelMouse.

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Content creation is still the most powerful engine that propels every publisher forward. But in 2020 and beyond, quality content won't sustain a site on its own. The modern content lifecycle hinges on a number of things working together in unison — including page speed, intelligent SEO, and effective distribution, just to name a few.

However, there's one thing that can throw a wrench in the entire system, and that's platform updates. Whether you're publishing on a common CMS solution like WordPress, using a custom in-house CMS, have access to a dedicated team of developers, or any option in between, platform updates can be both costly and frustrating.

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