Digital Writing Has Changed: It’s Time to Adjust

The world of digital publishing has become a lot noisier. Both brands and new media companies are always looking for the next-best strategy to stand out in the feeds, catch eyes in inboxes, and win organic search to build sticky audiences. But 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.


Axios: Summarizing a Whirlwind of News

News publisher Axios quickly became a darling in the new media world after they launched in 2017, and part of the reason why is because their writing style is unlike most others in the industry. "Axios" is Greek for "brevity," and it makes up the core of their digital strategy. Every article they publish is short by design, and each post begins with a meaningful preview of what the article is about and why it's important. Before dropping in a prompt to ask if you want to keep reading a post, Axios marks their content with bold subheads — such as "Why it matters" or "The bottom line" — to answer the all-important "why" before an article dives into the details. After that, it's up to you to decide if you care enough about the story to keep reading it. If not, keep scrolling.

Why We Need It: Making Sense of the Noise

The oversaturation of content within social feeds and the entire digital experience is a constant battle every publisher faces. We live in a personalized ecosystem online. Our feeds are designed to only show stories that interest us. We only sign up for newsletters we care about, and use search for a defined purpose — not content discovery. It's time our writing reflects — and respects — the unavoidable content filtration system.

Since there's simply too much information to sort through, there's genuine value in adopting a writing style that doesn't use too many bells and whistles to capture readers. Giving users a little capsule of what an article's about and why it's important from the start is not only refreshingly transparent, but a new proven approach to audience growth. Readers will quickly learn that your content experience is easy to follow, intriguing, and informative, and that's what builds organic loyalty.

Why It's Working: No More Trick to Click

Because digital content consumption has become ubiquitous, users view the digital and social worlds with a more discerning eye. If the Facebook fake news fallout of 2016 taught us anything, it's that there's a demand for a more transparent internet.

In the past, the common method for getting the aforementioned "hook" to pull in readers was to write teaser-style headlines and descriptions that barely offered any insight into the content itself. You'd then hope that the teasers would be enticing enough to grab a reader's attention so that they couldn't resist clicking. But this strategy has always been a slippery slope for publishers, and it usually amounts to nothing more than clickbait. It's also precisely this kind of "gotcha" content that Facebook deprioritized in its News Feed last year. The story's no different when it comes to organic search. Keyword stuffing trends of yesteryear was how many tried to get onto Google's front page, and concepts like relevancy made little difference. Now, creating content that satisfies user intent is more important than ever.

Axios' 180-degree shift from the old standards of digital writing schooled the old guard on how to write engaging content. Instead of asking themselves if they've done enough to pull a user in, Axios optimizes their content for the shortest way a user can familiarize themselves with a story. Readers then have a choice to either keep reading or keep scrolling based on their own interests. And that's where personalization and transparency will win over audiences versus quick-hit clicks.

Why One Simple Function Can Change Everything

Axios put a spotlight on conversation-starting content and why it matters, and it's a great way to build organic loyalty in 2018. At RebelMouse, we're prioritizing the concept of sustained reach in place of chasing fleeting metrics that can't build the kinds of sticky audiences that every publisher yearns for.

We designed an intuitive layout — called Social UX — which helped Axios redefine the new digital write-up and soar to more than 40 million pageviews a month. Our CMS includes a "Keep reading" function that complements the infinite scroll. It's the one, simple feature that allows readers to choose what they want to read without deceiving them. It's also used to great effect on other RebelMouse properties, such as Dance Magazine and EcoWatch. The infinite scroll within Social UX creates a personalized experience that mimics the social feeds and builds honest relationships with readers.

Even if a CMS replatform isn't on your roadmap, our team of growth experts can help adjust your content and digital strategy to match the new digital write-up. Let's create something together.

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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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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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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Create Modular + Reusable Design Patterns on RebelMouse

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Instagram-style E-commerce Features on RebelMouse

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Building Premium Communities and User Journeys on RebelMouse

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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A Modern Story of Web Performance From RebelMouse Founder + CEO Andrea Breanna

If I had more time, this website would have loaded faster

In the first months of 2020, we've focused at RebelMouse on page speed and performance. We worked very hard and found ways to take 90% of the sites we power to 90+ performance scores via Google's PageSpeed Insights tool — even with sites that are loaded with ads, embeds, third-party analytics, and other typical slow-loading elements. You can read more about our victories here.

A few months after we started this process, COVID-19 hit the world very hard. Suddenly, every media company was faced with a huge problem: Advertising fell off a cliff in what seemed like seconds. The only way to survive this unprecedented downturn is to grow traffic and control costs at the same time. So we started to shave our code and made our websites faster. We dropped costs just as dramatically as we were increasing scores.

Here are some surprises we found when doing this: If you want truly exceptional performance, none of the JavaScript and CSS frameworks that developers love so much make the cut. We thought the React version of RebelMouse was going to be the huge page speed breakthrough, until we realized the only way to achieve this goal was to write the code carefully and refactor it endlessly until it was as short as possible. As any author will tell you, like editing a book or a blog post, the revision process is never really done. By stepping away from frameworks, and methodically shaving vanilla code, our customers continue to see major improvements in performance.

As we announced this to our site network and rolled it out publicly, many of our clients asked me personally, "How did you do it?" The answer is easy to understand regardless of how technical you may be. It's perfectly summarized in this wonderful quote attributed to Mark Twain:

"If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter."
—Blaise Pascal, 1657 (and later, more famously Mark Twain)

The universe is sometimes very beautiful, and especially when you keep it simple. If you would like to start publishing on a site optimized for both speed and sustainability, request a proposal and let's start working together.

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Small and medium-sized news organizations producing original content about the COVID-19 pandemic for their local communities could be eligible for money from Google.

The search engine announced a global Journalism Emergency Relief Fund through the Google News Initiative to support journalism during the crisis. Funds will range from the low thousands to tens of thousands depending on the size of the newsroom, according to Google.

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