We ended 2016 with the phrase "pivot to video." The dash to social video was so intense at the end of last year that some publishers cleaned house to make sure they were poised to meet the industry's latest demands. While not completely misguided, it's become clear now that the scramble to video was more in the interest of advertisers' pockets than users.
As we close out 2017, content saturation (which includes video) is suffocating publishers while Facebook and Google — the almighty duopoly — have a firm grip on digital ad revenue. Successful media companies and brands are struggling to meet revenue goals while the platforms are reaching new heights. As the state of digital media continues to puzzle publishers in what's left of 2017, it can be hard to strategize for next year with all the changes and updates these mega-platforms like to throw our way.
But the media world in 2018 is not as bleak as it sounds. The slow and steady prioritization of quality content and user experience has become increasingly clear. And with this clarity comes the need for every publisher to accept how content travels across platforms, and how this will continue to evolve in 2018. What's equally significant is understanding what's now the common consumption experience, and how to adjust your strategy to build traffic accordingly.
Resolution #1: Accept the New Facebook Standard and Adjust
In 2017, we wrote about how RebelMouse is immune to Facebook's pendulum.
This year Facebook begrudgingly stepped into the role of defining the standard for a fair content experience. Following the fallout from the fake news fiasco, the platform now holds publishers to new standards. What's even more interesting is that in the latter part of 2017, Facebook made it clear they would require publishers to have a website that is fast and streamlined. So if you want to take your traffic off the platform, Facebook's users must be sent to a desktop and mobile web experience that is clean, non-intrusive, and content-rich. This means no more video ads.
The platform's audience network grew tremendously this year as well, giving publishers data that fuels the best-performing programmatic ad network we've ever seen. And while there's still time for Facebook to monopolize this monetization, there's never been a more opportune moment for publisher-level revenue growth. But to fully realize these opportunities, your content strategy has to place value in the right areas. Understanding every Facebook update in the coming year will be crucial to your content's success.
Resolution #2: Prioritize Loyalty in 2018
Understanding customer data is vital as we transition into the new year. Living close to your data on Facebook Audience Insights, Google Analytics, and Instagram can unlock the corners of the social ecosystem where your audiences live.
When we made the confusing pivot to video around this time last year, engagement was the true metric to watch. Although engagement is still important, it's fleeting and doesn't guarantee return visits. In 2018, loyalty will be built with reach
However, you can't have just reach alone. Many current media properties have viral, heavily shared content that regularly appears in your social feeds. But can you easily name any of these publishers? Reach is only useful when it's leveraged to build loyalty and recognition.Turning reach into loyalty and revenue comes not only from the understanding of data, but also putting value in social as the primary seed for every growth opportunity. Social isn't something a small team or even one person does for a larger editorial team. It's something every editor and writer should not only understand in 2018, but accept as their users' only instinctual way to fall in love with their content.
Resolution #3: Fix Your Corporate Blog
Blogs were the first way companies, both big and small, dipped their toe into the waters of the internet. But now they've become the Achilles' heel of the content marketing stack.This owned property is key to content marketers being able to spread traffic across different platforms and create loyalty. But while Facebook, Instagram, Google, Snapchat, Twitter, and others are evolving into centralized platforms with massive updates that roll out every quarter, corporate blogs are stuck on an old paradigm.
This archaic standard was built before social, and it's a clunky strategy that will put an end to any kind of meaningful growth if you continue with it. Our publishing platform is modern and adapted to look, work, and feel like social. The editorial tools are super slick and linked to social so you can seamlessly publish to Instant Articles, Google AMP, Apple News, Twitter, Facebook, and more, all during the content creation process. Readers stay longer, read more, and share more. Having a user-friendly, personalized experience was a key differentiator in 2017, and publishers can expect that to continue over the next 12 months.
Making Changes in 2018
RebelMouse has seen explosive growth this year. We've found ourselves at the intersection where content, social, and product meet. In 2012, we went viral as a social aggregator, and then we saw success with our game-changing CMS that built new media darlings like Axios and The Dodo. Now we are a full-time creative media agency that powers websites and consults on content strategy, social growth, and effective site monetization.
2017 marks the first year we're offering these strategy services without the requirement of re-platforming your site. So if any of these 2018 resolutions seem out of your reach, you can still start optimizing your content before the ball drops in Times Square.
Happy New Year!