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Media in 2018: How to Thrive in the Face of Massive Changes

We're not even a quarter of the way into 2018 yet, and the new media world already looks completely different than it did when we said goodbye to 2017. Facebook's apocalyptic algorithm update knocked brands and media companies completely off course, and has left many publishers in chaos mode, searching for answers and new, proven approaches.

That said, there's no time like the present to get in front of these changes, and the imminent success of your brand is contingent on your ability to adapt to the times. This means re-evaluating your current strategies and finding ways to connect with your audiences on a deeper, more meaningful level. In a recent webinar, our founder and CEO Paul Berry discussed how to survive the latest demands the media world is facing, and what you need to do to protect the future of your brand. Watch the video above for the full session, and follow along with the key takeaways we've outlined for you below.


Feeding into the Feeds

Everyone is scrambling to get ahead of the ever-changing Facebook algorithm. 2018 began with brands, publishers, and new media companies worried that whatever social monetization they still had at the end of 2017 was suddenly lost forever.

But the latest change to the algorithm is actually a new opportunity to take back organic traffic and create purposeful content across all platforms. While Google and Facebook continue to spar over who rules ad tech, there's a window of opportunity for publishers to win back traffic with well-thought-out content. Engagement as a trackable metric has become more important than ever. Whether your property is e-commerce, a niche new media site, or an influencer brand, you must create relevant content worth engaging with.

Play the Platform Game

Facebook Instant Articles is still an important format because it's where you can easily monetize Facebook while delivering a quality mobile experience. And it's important to remember that Instant Articles is just another play in the social platform's war against Google's own mobile format, Google Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP). Use these chess pieces to your advantage to source traffic. With the correct implementation, publishers can leverage Instant Articles to not only create revenue with every publish, but to curate long-form articles with dynamic imagery that keeps readers engaged longer. Average read time on Instant Articles is everything, and it's important to have a strategy in place that keeps readers scrolling.

What Video Looks like in 2018

At the end of 2017, there were rumblings that the pivot-to-video movement was a trap destined to fail. While not completely untrue, social video is still relevant in the News Feed. But you don't have to pump out short-form readable videos to appease the algorithm. Make use of live video whenever you can. It's a personal way to take your audience out of their daily routine and into a world they care about. Think about creating video series on YouTube that you're able to link out to. Content that's published on a regular schedule that your audience looks forward to every week with anticipation. With an abundant supply of cheap, easy-to-use video editing software available to everyone today, even non-video-savvy writers can create beautiful videos in an efficient way.

What It Means to Be Lean

Not only does your video strategy need to be lean, so does the rest of your operation. The new media world in 2018 — which includes Facebook — favors lean business models. Avoid the Walmart effect and instead think small, smart, and agile. When Walmart enters a small town to set up shop, it establishes a local monopoly that usually forces other small business out. But what we're seeing is that Facebook and other platforms actually value the smaller players more. And in today's social and digital climate, lean media companies with effective content can enter the feeds and make their way to the top for half the cost and manpower as traditional publishing giants. The idea behind lean media companies is rooted in meaningful content that resonates, which means treating your audience as fellow creators instead of readers. Take advantage of ways they can be a part of your story's voice.

Play up Personalization

We live in a world full of personalization. Today there are so many sources available to people that let them consume only the content they care about. And the 2016 U.S. presidential election showed us more than ever that every internet user creates their own filter bubble. Filter bubbles are created through how we engage with content coupled with the power of the algorithms. Essentially, a filter bubble occurs when we start to only see content that aligns with our biases — right or wrong — and all other content is deprioritized or never seen.

Understanding the filter bubble and using it to your advantage is important. Create a network of sites or Facebook Pages to reach more people, and create relationships built on sharing with like-minded Pages to expand a targeted audience. This kind of strategic targeting can turn new audiences into loyal followers.

Enter the New Era

No matter what your business objectives are, the new era of marketing is content — not advertising. The only way to succeed in media is with content mixed with social, and it's truly an exciting time to be able to master this balance to reap the rewards. Blogs that were once stale are now exciting again. As traditional publishing continues to fade, the blog is now becoming a media hub that creates revenue and reaches new people. Now the struggle has become, "What is the right content for my audience?" Legacy brands and grassroot publishers can use deliberate strategies around search, social, and audience discovery to answer this question and succeed throughout 2018.

Publishers No Longer Have to Submit Their Site to Google News

Google's Publisher Center creates new opportunities for audience growth

Just before the start of the next decade, Google announced an important change to its Google News offering with the launch of Google Publisher Center. The new interface merges Google News Producer and Google News Publisher into one to streamline the partnership process for publishers.

Overall, the change should make it easier for publishers to manage their Google News settings, including updating themes, directing URLs to section pages, and configuring user permissions. Read the full list of features here.

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How to Find Work-Life Balance as a Remote Employee

Tips from our CEO on making the most of an office-free lifestyle

Working from home is becoming increasingly popular, with an estimated 66% of companies now allowing remote work and 16% operating completely office-free. RebelMouse is one of those fully remote companies, and over the years we've mastered how to stay close to each other despite being spread across more than a dozen countries. We believe working remotely is good for both our personal lives and our productivity. Read more about this here.

Still, working free from the shackles of an office environment doesn't mean every day is a dance party in your pajamas from 9 to 5. Working from home comes with its own set of challenges just like any other job.

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Inside RebelMouse’s Quality Assurance Operations

How We've Perfected Stress-Free Publishing

At RebelMouse, we like to refer to our enterprise publishing platform as "lean tech." Most publishers have a natural inclination to start doubling down on teams of developers who try to build unique experiences to help stand out above the noise. But they should actually be doing the opposite: Lean tech is the preferred way to cut through content saturation. By allowing RebelMouse to obsess over your product, content producers, editors, managers, and everyone in between can focus on creating quality content and taking advantage of opportunities to leverage distributive publishing strategies that create real revenue growth.

One of the major reasons we're able to maintain a lean tech environment is thanks to our approach to quality assurance (QA). We make updates to our platform daily to ensure our clients always have access to the most robust, high-performing, and secure version of our platform. Behind the scenes, this means having a solid QA structure that's efficient, creates less bugs, and catches the ones that do pop up before they go live. It's a system of checks and balances that's hard and costly to replicate on a custom CMS. Here's a glimpse into how it works.

Our Tech Stack Toolbox

  • Cucumber
  • Java
  • Junit
  • Maven
  • Selenium WebDriver
  • TeamCity
  • Zalenium (Selenium Grid)

Our Checks and Balances Workflow

Automated Regression Testing Cycle

The Lifecycle of a Product Update

When an update is first made to RebelMouse, TeamCity immediately triggers the start of automated tests to review integrity.

TeamCity Build

TeamCity Agent

The tests run in parallel on TeamCity's Build Agent. Next, Zalenium creates docker containers with browsers that matches the count of parallel threads. An Allure report is then generated from the test results, which shows the state of the application after the update.

Allure Report Pass

If a test doesn't complete successfully, the testing framework receives a video with a failed test and attaches it to the Allure report.

Allure Report Issue

Based on the report analysis, a QA specialist will create a "bug" ticket in our product management software to address the issue if needed. Then, information about the bug is immediately sent to the project manager and we begin the process of correcting the problem.

The media powerhouses we power can publish with confidence knowing that any product issues that arise are met with a tried-and-true process to fix the problem with little-to-no disturbance to their workflow. If you have any questions about this process, please email support@rebelmouse.com.

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