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The Next Generation of Brand Content

We've entered into a major shift in new media publishing. So far, 2018 has been a roller coaster ride of industry shifts for publishers, kicked off by Facebook's sweeping algorithm change in January that left brands wondering about the future of traffic growth and monetization on social.

The good news is that there's still plenty of opportunity for brands — both new and old — to put their communities on a growth path that delivers impactful revenue. And it's all about getting back to basics: The brand blog! While the idea of the blog has been around since the early days of the internet, the focus on community, as well as tech's ability to draw in audiences at scale, is peaking like never before.


Content Creates Organic Surface Areas

A common mistake brands have been making is neglecting their blogs, and instead they're focusing too much on winning social. But with frequent algorithm and industry changes, the brand blog must become a priority again. To survive and succeed with content, the blog must first evolve into a media site. To make the switch, it's important to let go of the traditional agency mindset of being campaign-centric. It's now about creating a community based on the passions of the people interested in your brand.

The brand blog is still important because it leverages the power of distributive content on organic surface areas like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. The blog then uses those platforms to connect the dots to a common content hub. This content hub is what creates massive loyalty, not just massive reach. The blog must be built like a social experience in and of itself. When done correctly, the brand blog can be a place that transforms a casual reader into an engaged member of your community you can know and count on.

Create a Community

Creating a community starts with your editorial thesis. What are the passions and ideas that fuel your brand? Once that's set in stone, building your network begins with reaching out to people and communities that are already talking about those passions. Then, find out what kind of content they're creating and reach out to them directly about it. Ask for permission to share their content in exchange for an @mention. The social ecosystem is full of creators who would love for their content to be validated and to engage in audience-sharing partnerships. Every partnership you create within your community of creators is a gateway to a new organic audience that can discover your brand. Structuring your content by putting the people in your community first is the ticket to not only a network of loyal followers, but continued organic growth.

Create/Amplify a Movement

In order to create a lasting network of creators and followers, your content must be tied to a movement. At RebelMouse, we helped launch The Dodo, a leading new media company with a mission to celebrate all things animals. The Dodo was able to amplify a movement that already had traction on the internet, and used that momentum to grow its own content hub. Brands can implement the same tactic if they can find the right topics that resonate within their communities.

Engage with New Creators

So how do you find these content creators to help build your new brand network? First off, you do need to create your own content with a writer and/or video editor that understands the passions behind your brand. Then you can use your original content for social outreach. This is what begins the new content lifecycle.

Social outreach can be as simple as connecting with likeminded Facebook Pages and social profiles at scale. Ask those creators for their content. In return, repurpose it in a way that not only makes it beautiful, but also validates their original message. Then amplify the content on your brand's blog and social networks. It's all about creating the kind of relationship where creators can't wait to share what you've come up with using their original content as a basis.

This content repurposing lifecycle is what fueled The Dodo's climb to the top. By capturing content and making the remixing process systematic, you can create organic growth. It's the only way brands can take part in this amazing emergence of the creator movement that embraces organic social media strategy.

The Content Itself

What a lot of publishers haven't fully realized yet is that digital writing has completely changed. What was once all about "hooking" the reader to get that extra click or share has shifted. There's now an intense push for prioritization, personalization, and transparency. As digital readers become more savvy, they specifically seek out media sources that deliver engaging content quickly and clearly.

The best example of this is Axios, an amazing new media company that initially launched on RebelMouse. They reached 40 million pageviews in the first three months through usage of a "Keep reading" function on every piece of their content. Each story begins with a brief summary of the article, rather than a teaser to entice a user to click. The summary content is good enough that it's usually all a reader needs to make a decision about whether they want to keep reading or scrolling. If you want to build organic loyalty, you need to be a master of your topic and deliver stories that encourage your users to consume the true depth of every post. But you also need to give your users the choice to consume what they want, and cheap clickbait tactics are a surefire approach to drive users away.

It's also important to remember that every piece of content should encourage questions. This leads to engagement that will not only help you in the social feeds, but also with audience building. Think of every image caption, tweet, or subheadline as an opportunity for more likes, shares, and comments.

What You Need

The good news is that, to reinvent your brand blog into a media site with a rich community, you don't need much at all. In today's world, a small editorial team can reach millions of people in a single day. Quality writers and social curators can put the right amount of focus on content creation that sparks engagement.

Ideally, to create a functioning media site, you first need one person in charge of curating content and reaching out to fellow content creators for access to their media. Then you need a savvy writer/video editor to repurpose and remix that borrowed content for your brand. If you have it in the budget, a third person can take up the reins as your social manager to reply to comments, boost posts, and nurture your social pages. As long as you function with a team that has a strong daily commitment to following through on your brand's mission and editorial thesis, you can reach audiences at scale. Put in overdrive, it can even be pulled off by just one person.

Rebuilding your brand's content in 2018 is leaner and cheaper, but it takes a pivotal mindset adjustment to reorganize the roles of a new media company. At RebelMouse, we create the lean tech needed to set up editorial teams for success. We also operate as a creative agency to help clients ensure their content is prioritized and optimized to grow organically. Let's start building something together today.

Page Speed Is Crucial to Your Marketing Efforts

Most marketers don't prioritize page speed because they don't think it impacts their bottom line. However, page load has a direct impact on conversions and revenue.

Here's a very simple scenario, supported by industry data, to underscore why the way pages are built and powered is crucial for paid media initiatives and your overall business:

Let's say a paid media campaign drives 100,000 new visitors to a landing page that takes five seconds to load. Google says that 53% of mobile site visitors will leave a page that takes longer than three seconds to load. So of the 100K mobile site visitors you paid to bring to the page, ~50K are leaving immediately due to poor page performance alone.

Some studies even show that bounce rate increases approximately 100% for every two-second delay. So, if site load jumps to seven seconds, you'll pretty much lose all of the visitors your paid strategies brought in.

A Poor Site Experience Costs More Than You Realize

Page load plays a huge part in customer dissatisfaction, too. Continuing on with our previous example, let's classify the ~50K that didn't abandon the page as dissatisfied due to poor page performance. As HubSpot points out, 79% of them are less likely to buy again from the same website. That's ~40K visitors never coming back to the site due to poor page speed. The loss is even greater when you consider how valuable returning visitors are: They represent up to 48% of all transactions and spend almost 2x more than new visitors, according to Business Insider.

Plus, people love to spread the word about a bad experience, probably more than a good one. 40% of visitors who had a bad experience with a website's performance would tell a friend or a family member. So of your 50K dissatisfied visitors, 20K are talking negatively about your brand. If they tell only one person each, that's an opportunity cost of another 20K potential site visitors and customers.

The main takeaway? Your paid media has to work much, much harder when you neglect to optimize your site for performance.

Owned and Paid Media Should Work Together for Better Efficiency

And speaking of site improvements to help the bottom line, marketers can't overlook the value of owned content (e.g., articles, reviews, social feeds, etc.) and its impact on overall traffic and lead generation strategies. Sites tend to see significant lift in audience reach and conversion when content is paired with commerce: For e-commerce companies, content can account for up to 69% of total organic traffic. And, even more compelling, conversion rates have been 6x higher for companies that adopt content marketing.

RebelMouse's CMS makes it easy for brands to systematically optimize page speed performance and organic reach, which allows paid media to be more efficient.

RebelMouse allows clients to easily manage website layouts and components at any time, ensuring sites remain fast and are rewarded by Google and Facebook. Our platform features proprietary SEO tools designed to help clients optimize organic search with every post and better align paid and organic search strategies for increased efficiency. Similarly, our platform also includes proprietary social tools to organically build community and growth, and our data helps clients spot winning organic trends that can inform paid social media.

RebelMouse Is a Partner That Can Guide You

When it comes to content marketing, it's important to be mindful of the relationship between owned, earned, and paid media — it will only help your teams engage and convert more audiences into customers and brand loyalists. At RebelMouse, we're proud of how we work with brands and our ability to provide the expertise, best practices, and modern technology that help teams become better content marketers. If you're a brand marketer, feel free to reach out to us to learn how RebelMouse can help you be more strategic and effective in your content marketing efforts.

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Target High-Value Users With Affinity Categories

Unlock valuable audience data and shape a new strategy

In today's landscape, quality content isn't enough — it's half the battle. Publishers need to produce shareable content backed by data to experience sustainable growth. At RebelMouse, we have a unique pageview methodology that provides an innovative user experience for every reader without sacrificing revenue and growth opportunities for publishers.

To do this, we track massive amounts of data across our platform through the use of custom-built Google Data Studio dashboards.

Click here to see the kind of growth our clients experience every day.

One of the best ways to discover more about your audience is by taking advantage of Affinity Categories. This feature breaks down audience demographics, including age, location, interests, and more. Affinity Categories are usually used to target audiences for ads, but we also use them to gain insights on what topics a site's visitors are interested in overall.

Normally, each category is listed out separately in Google Analytics. In the example shown above, our data experts split categories into separate levels to reveal different levels of audience depth. For instance, by splitting up the category News & Politics, we can better explore the detailed distribution of users interested in specific types of news:

  • News & Politics/Avid News Readers/Avid Political News Readers
  • News & Politics/Avid News Readers/Entertainment News Enthusiasts

From an editorial standpoint, this is useful because it allows publishers to determine and target varying levels of high-value users, improving the efficacy of a new content strategy or ad campaign.

If your site is already powered by RebelMouse, email support@rebelmouse.com to get a breakdown of your audience's Affinity Categories. If you aren't powered by RebelMouse yet, request a proposal today and start receiving the data you need to grow loyal followers at scale.

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Infinite Scroll: An Innovative + Intuitive UX

There is a common misconception that publishers have to sacrifice monetization and professional design to deliver a high-performing, quality user experience to its readers. But in today's modern publishing environment, websites can deliver an unobtrusive site experience that's intuitive, elegant, and prosperous.

To do this consistently, RebelMouse supports infinite scroll as part of our bigger design strategy called Social UX for Media. Much like the news feeds of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, infinite scroll provides an endless stream of articles to its readers so they never reach the "end" of your content.

Infinite scroll is an innovative approach, but it is also a widely adopted standard that has been endorsed and is supported officially by Google, Comscore, Nielsen, and many other industry giants. It's part of a new media strategy deployed by companies with massive valuations and the highest level of visibility in the U.S. market, including Axios, Vice, and The Verge.

In fact, RebelMouse built and launched news powerhouse Axios, now one of the biggest new media companies to date, with our Social UX for Media design featuring infinite scroll. It's still a core part of Axios' successful publishing strategy today. The feature has also been key to the growth of many other RebelMouse-powered properties, including La Verità, Dance Magazine, and United Airlines.

RebelMouse's Social UX for Media design, featuring infinite scroll on hub.united.com.

The primary reason infinite scroll is so successful is because it mimics user behavior in an innovative, yet familiar way, thanks to its similarity to social feeds. On mobile, expandable posts make it easy for users to read "before the jump" and quickly expand to the rest of the article with one click, rather than being taken to another article page. This is similar to when a user expands a caption on Instagram. It's these simple design details that bring massive growth to key stats like return visits and time on site.

Our page view methodology not only keeps the user experience intact, it also includes robust ad serving technology. We use industry standard rules for page views that require at least 50% of the screen space to change before it counts as a new page view. So whether you use Comscore or Nielsen to verify your site traffic, infinite scroll will not have a negative impact on your insights.

If you're interested in launching a site with our game-changing Social UX for Media design, request a proposal today and let's start working together. If your site is already powered by RebelMouse, and you have questions about infinite scroll, email support@rebelmouse.com.

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Particle Assembler: Ads in Slideshows Now Supported

You can now insert ads between slides in a slideshow!

Monetizing users' engagement and page views is pivotal to most digital businesses, and our Particle Assembler has been an invaluable tool in helping RebelMouse clients to insert native ads seamlessly into their content. Now we've taken this functionality one step further by introducing support for ads between slides in Assembler's slideshow layout.

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