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The Path to Distributed Publishing (Part 3)

This is the third part of a three-part series on the path to distributed publishing. ICYMI, here's a brief history of how we got here + distributed publishing's impact on websites + tech.

What Does It Mean for Editorial Teams?

Editorial teams are waking up post earthquake and realizing they have exactly the wrong ratio of writers to video editors. The key for writers and reporters is to shift. They learned to tell their story in slideshows and then adapted those into listicles. The best writers then realized readable video needs to be written and are now out there writing it.


Social teams are part of editorial, but the way they were formed is wrong in today's new paradigm. They were hired, trained, and grew up in a world where a slideshow was meant to drive traffic to a website.

One of the key ways to know that a social team is built for the previous paradigm is if growth and distribution are not a top priority. Usually, these types of teams have learned to keep trains on time with publishing cadence and without making terribly embarrassing mistakes (e.g., posting a happy GIF while a terrorist attack is happening, etc.).

The best way to know if you have the right social team is perhaps if they don't even exist. They are the editorial team now, and that means every writer and video editor on the team takes on social publishing and distribution as part of their core job. At HuffPost we didn't have an SEO team or an SEO expert, we expected every great writer and editor on the editorial team to understand SEO. This is what should be happening to smart editorial teams now for Social Media Optimization (SMO).

What Does It Mean for Institutions?

The Yahoo! and Google era was particularly good at making a few companies massively successful. It makes sense because the results for a category page, much like that for a search phrase, would be the same for everyone. So if you owned a top placement on a high traffic search result or category page, you got a fire hose of a funnel.

This isn't quite the same on Facebook, and particularly not when you see how it's playing out over time. If terrorists attack Paris, 500 million people might become aware within an hour or two of the news. But instead of choosing a small set of 10 results for their users, Facebook will have thousands, or tens of thousands, of answers for its users about what happened.

What this implies for great media institutions is not particularly sunny. The ease of publishing coupled with the personalization of social at scale often gets the world right to the source of the news direct, or has thousands of rewrites of a single story within minutes of a major news event.

It looks as though Google Rank may have been quite a bit more powerful than Facebook's EdgeRank — the number of fans a media company has may be very limited in its ability to keep a company alive in this new paradigm.

Small start-up media companies that don't carry the burden of old websites, and are learning to tell stories native to each platform, have the chance to become very significant very quickly. The Dodo, a property that we are proud to say is powered by RebelMouse, became the fifth largest publisher on Facebook this year. Their rise was shockingly fast. NowThis, which had several pivots before finding its flow, is over one billion monthly video views now.

Now that we know a bit of the history of how we got to this point, I'm sure the first question on everyone's mind is: "What do I need to do to be successful in this new paradigm?"

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