In this era of mobile devices and social media permeating every aspect of our lives, it’s harder than ever for digital publishers ensure that their content stands out and achieves the best possible engagement with audience members.
We think the biggest shift to understand, embrace and reconcile with publishers’ business models is the rise of social media for content discovery. Should you embrace Facebook’s bear hug or not? To try and build your own platform or not? These are questions publishers are still trying to answer fully.
Here are six key principles that content professionals need to keep in mind as we approach 2016.
1. Get in on the Conversation Early
Find the most fertile story lines, early in their life cycle, using smart technology.
Writing about issues that don’t interest your readers, or being late to news, is a sure way to fail. Spike is becoming more and more important here, although tools like Dataminr are also important to newsrooms.
2. Look Good Across All Platforms
The digital media industry’s new strategic focus on social has arrived because in only a few years, social media grown to drive as much traffic to publishers as search. “Search” is now being supplemented by “discovery.”
Ensure your publishing and tech teams work together to ensure content being shared on social looks good, reads well and is highly engaging. There are formatting and rendering issues here to focus on, as this is a key success when it comes to social distribution.
3. Don’t Overlook Multimedia and Interactive
Plain old text-only articles just can’t compete with great video, quizzes and other fun formats. New content formats will no doubt continue to evolve as social does too. We’ve seen lots of poll and quiz content circulating recently about Donald Trump in the US election.
So make sure to use publishing tools like Playbuzz as part of your investment in content.
4. Leverage Analytics Across Your Ecosystem
Mine analytics data, using tools like our Insights product, to understand what works and why.
No publisher operates in a vacuum, so understanding and benchmarking strategic performance is vital. Google Analytics and Omniture are useful for onsite analytics, but tools giving you a cross platform, strategic view are also important. This is why publishers use Insights to supplement their internal analytics tools.
5. Get Creative With How You Use Data
There’s so much data being collected and made available to publishers and brands nowadays, and the ways to leverage alerts and insights are virtually endless.
Here’s a great example of a company that is using news trends in an unexpected way. Fantex, a new concept enabling individuals to invest in sports stars’ equity, uses Spike to see what content and stories are trending around professional athletes, before using this data in their own internal systems and proprietary platform. Tracking the news stories that matter around such sports stars is an important way to monitor the ebb and flow of their brand equity.
6. ‘Mobile First’ Is Just the Beginning
Mobile, combined with the rise of social, has caused the biggest seismic shift in publishing and news, since the invention of the printing press. It’s a double phenomenon really. The vertical screen is one of the main impactors on formats, with vertical video obviously on the rise – not just due to SnapChat. Publishers also have their own audience needs to be mindful of too, with consumer content clearly involving a large degree of mobile consumption.
New-era digital publishers, like Vice and Huffington Post, clearly have an advantage here as their content has been planned and created with these twin phenomena in mind, but legacy publishers like the New York Times have content archives which might not be well suited to mobile. Overall, we’re seeing publishers thinking of not just “mobile first” but mobile as a platform in its own right.
What’s Next in Digital Publishing
As publishers’ owned web properties diminish in importance, their access to eyeballs is being driven more and more by links on social platforms. Even visits to their web properties are increasingly mobile, so we see publishers thinking more and more with a “mobile and social first” mindset.
This all boils down to understanding who your audience is and how they go about consuming your content. With the right listening tools and the right content formats, today’s publishers can drive increasingly meaningful engagement with growing audiences.