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Summer 2017: 5 Social Trends of the Season

Platforms, users + publishers have a need for speed.

The world of digital has gotten so much more complex. As social bleeds into sites and vice versa, the ecosystem between digital and real life has become even more intertwined. It's even impacting elections.

If there had to be one word to summarize this summer on social it would be speed. Platforms are getting better about delivering content in non-intrusive formats that load before you can blink. Websites are also following the trend of usability and personal experience more than ever. Gossip sites that once delivered articles oversaturated with ads now publish on Instant Articles.


At RebelMouse, clients like Axios are melding the fast + content-friendly social experience with their own site and newsletters. It's a refreshing need for speed that can only continue into the next year.

Here are five trends that marked the summer for us:


1. Twitter: Time to Get AMP’ed

Relay's Twitter referrals spiked once the Google AMP rollout on Twitter was completed.

This summer, Twitter's rollout to Google AMP was completed. Twitter's native app now uses Google AMP links exclusively, eliminating the platform's previous, slower mobile viewing pages. AMP articles load two times faster than other links returned from Google search — and now Twitter is reaping those swift load times too.

Relay Media, a strictly AMP-based platform, reports that since the switch to AMP, sessions have spiked from 4% in December 2016 to 20% in June 2017. They also found that since the shift to AMP, 10–15% of their AMP visits are not sourced from Google search, but rather from platforms like Twitter.

The dramatic shift to a faster-loading experience means that publishers who aren't publishing on AMP are missing out on vital traffic. If your brand or media company can't iterate on AMP pages to learn how to effectively send traffic to your full site, you are increasingly crippled. We can help you integrate Google AMP for your content and optimize the feature to its full potential.

2. Facebook: Fighting Fake News

Facebook's metadata is no longer customizable.

Nobody has felt the brunt of being immersed in our complex digital ecosystem more than Facebook. Now combatting the fake news fiasco of the 2016 election, Facebook is taking steps to make sure that fake news doesn't ever spread as quickly as it did this past year.

Facebook changed the rules this summer for media on its platform. Facebook's latest update eliminated the ability to change an article's metadata — in other words, you have to keep and use the Open Graph (OG) metadata and image that was set up when the post was originally written. It's a way to ensure that misleading or polarizing information isn't inserted into the metadata causing it to be shared and spread incorrectly.

This change means your CMS matters more than ever. Our Facebook meta data is customizable right from our platform's Entry Editor.

3. Facebook: Instant Article Improvements

Also this summer, Facebook prioritized enhancing its own fast-loading experience: Instant Articles. Despite having a bit of a rocky start, Facebook made meaningful tweaks for publishers to get the most out of the feature. There is now more ad flexibility for publishers, and the platform announced that it will start prioritizing faster-loading experiences in the feed.

At RebelMouse, we're reaping the benefits of these positive changes to Instant Articles with every publish. We have clients experiencing up to $25 CPM — and even $35 — on Instant Articles now. They're achieving those numbers not through a sales team, but rather with effective content on sites that are perfectly optimized for social — and this absolutely includes a seamless Instant Articles configuration. Across the board, we're seeing sites hold a healthy $5 CPM a day, and some even regularly come in at $10.

We can share our monetization secrets with you anytime. We are a creative agency that offers Facebook Instant Articles configuration, implementation, and strategy services.

4. Instagram: The Kingdom Is Real

The days of only uploading beautiful pictures of your brunch and hiking trips are long gone. What started as a simple, social photo-sharing app has turned into a daily staple in the lives of 400 million people. Instagram continues to shatter new benchmarks and establish its dominance in the age of social, with no signs of slowing down.

Instagram's success hasn't gone unnoticed. Influencers, advertisers, and brands are going all in, capitalizing on all the eyeballs using the platform as yet another means of monetization. Publishers are piling into Instagram video, too. 2017 has certainly been the year that businesses take notice of Instagram.

The best part of Instagram is that it can be easily managed, optimized, and, most importantly, monetized with a small and dedicated team. This summer, we identified a strategy on how to "do" Instagram.

In addition to our Instagram growth hacks that anyone can use, the RebelMouse CMS also makes finding and maintaining social connections on Instagram easy.

Our social amplification tools were built in the age of the influencer, not before. So they are constantly changing and adapting to the industry's current climate.

5. SEO: I’m Still Here

Even though it's become social media's world and we're merely along for the ride, SEO still has a very important part to play. In fact, the two work together. After all, it's an age-old question that's haunted digital marketers for years: Does social media impact search rankings? There's a varying degree of answers, but we've nailed down the details.

Social has changed every aspect of digital publishing. Still, you can leverage social to win in today's age of search. Search is now a space for solutions, rather than a place for discovery and exploration — those now all happen on social. But both need to work together and do so quickly. We've mastered the best ways to leverage social to improve your SEO in this free guide.

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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