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.