Digital media disruptions XII - myths of the post-writing web, and Facebook's ruthless algorithm

Profile picture for user jreed By Jon Reed July 26, 2016
In digital media disruptions, I pick the most impactful media stories for enterprise marketers and publishers. This time around: dealing with Facebook's ruthless algorithms, live video streaming, and have we entered the post-writing web?

Yes, it's time for another gut-check review of digital media disruptions - the enterprisey review (see previous installment). Rules remain simple: pick the impactful stories from my curated digital media collection, and give them a hard look from the enterprise side, where eyeballs still count - but only if they're the right ones. I'll mix in a few actionable responses for good measure.

Facebook To Decrease Publisher Reach To Show You More From Friends And Family
by: Alex Kantrowitz
key excerpt: "Facebook is making changes to its News Feed to align with newly articulated values, and it means you will soon see more stuff from your friends and families and fewer things from publishers and brands. It’s a move meant to keep the “social” in the world’s largest social network, but one that will likely cause some pain for publishers who have become reliant on its referral traffic."

enterprise relevance: If your brand does relevant business on Facebook, you're gonna have to pay for the privilege. That's not a new concept, but Facebook's latest Newsfeed algo changes sends a clear message: no matter how "engaging" your brand content is, it's a Newsfeed afterthought (see more on my Facebook Newsfeed for enterprise views).

best course of action:

  • Eliminate Facebook "likes" on a business page as a meaningful or useful metric, except as a means to target advertising spend.
  • Monitor incoming traffic from Facebook and determine whether it's leading to better signups and conversions, rather than assuming "we must have a presence on Facebook."
  • Keep in mind that "lifestyle" topics tend to do better on Facebook than pure enterprise topics. Shift topic focus accordingly.
  • With that in mind, experiment with more informal Facebook Live video (more on that shortly).
  • Encourage those executives and influencers in your workforce who do enjoy sharing content on Facebook to continue to do so; their personal shares and conversations will often carry more weight than your brands'.

Welcome To the Post-Writing Web
by: Jordan Sargent
key excerpt: "Over at the new MTV—which has been rebooted by a core staff from Simmons’ old site—emphasis has also been put on the written word. But in the last week, the site has rolled out podcasts. And video. And there are entire bylined articles living in Instagram captions. Ideally, this could all be part of a robust new media operation, but it’s more realistic that some stuff will stick and other stuff will slide off the wall."

enterprise relevance: Granted, anything Gawker says about the future of media comes with a big ol' salt grain, given they haven't figured out how to stay away from sensationalism-derived bankruptcy. Sargent's piece is a self-admitted writer's lament, a howl for literate blogs in the face of Instragram visual candy. For enterprises, this is less true, given that text-based content still plays a key role in search traffic amongst most B2B demographics. Still, the emphasis on multi-media and short-form serves as a caution.

best course of action:

  • Never assume video over text, or long-form over short-form. Experiment, test, and tie to various phases in the sales cycle.
  • Experiment with multi-media content, including more informal video content that is accessible and easily produced. Reduce overhead of such content by repurposing it into several formats. However, beware of pure text transcription; full transcripts are less useful for SEO than they used to be. It's often better to use transcripts as fodder for blogs or deeper Q/A features.

C-SPAN Is Airing The House’s Sit-In Using Periscope And Facebook Live
by: Alex Kantrowitz
key excerpt: "Facebook and Twitter are playing a starring role in congressional Democrats’ sit-in protesting gun violence today. After House cameras went dark a few minutes into the protest, Facebook Live and Periscope are the only sources of live video from the floor, creating a moment C-SPAN is calling extraordinary."

enterprise relevance: Live video, in particular Facebook Live, has played pivotal roles in a number of news stories in 2016. As users get comfortable with live video streaming, they are sure to experiment with this at enterprise shows, and not just at the celebratory concert. Live video brings predicaments beyond copyright infringements, as Facebook has learned the hard way. The impact of live video on sports broadcasting is ratcheting up also.

best course of action:

  • Assess opportunities for "impromptu", informal live video streaming at upcoming events, such as an informal social media Q/A with a keynote speaker after the fact.
  • Prepare policies/responses for legal and beneficial but unapproved live streaming at your events.
  • Prepare policies/responses for illegal/unauthorized live streaming at your events, such as during NDA briefings. Consider inviting attendees to stream important public announcements, assuming bandwidth is available.

The Future of Media: Can Publishers Become Media Platforms?
by: Tom Foremski
key excerpt: "Stephanie Losee spoke about asking fundamental questions about content such as “why do you want to reach this person?” She said metrics needed to value the reader and that trying to reach a large audience often results in lost focus. Higher numbers are not better. The right content will always find its way to the right person and publishers should offer ways for readers to jump down the rabbit hole and go deeper into a subject."

enterprise relevance: Silicon Valley media maven Tom Foremski shares notes and analysis from a high powered women-in-digital-media panel. There are terrific anecdotes here on the role and drawbacks of metrics, the importance or reaching the right readers rather than page view volume, etc. Foremski is deeply skeptical of the idea that publishers can become "platforms" due to the high costs of publishing, which a platform like Facebook doesn't have to absorb (Facebook doesn't produce its own content, but lives off the self-generated content of its users and partners, which is the classic platform win).

best course of action:

  • Enterprises have more platform flexibility than publishers under revenue pressure. Enterprises can use self-publishing platforms, such as blogging networks and advocate communities, to make it easy for community members to create and share their own content.
  • "Platform thinking" is beneficial as it helps to provoke ideas on how content can scale. The right balance today is a mix of building your own platform, and participating in the established platforms. Platform thinking means always considering the value of opening up content to external contributors.

Bonus content:

  • This new journalism survey, The Media on the Media - 113 Journalists on Why They’re So Despised, has a plethora of data on how journalists perceive online media. Issues such as media distrust and whether the Internet has been good for journalism yield some surprising data, and check the write-in responses.
  • A slew of articles on automating the writing process came out. as in The Associated Press using Automated Writing to Cover Minor League Games. I don't feel too threatened here at diginomica's hand-rolled sausage shop, but I can also see a use for automating the creation of certain content that is required for documentation.
  • I dug into a bunch of media trends not covered here in Debating cord-cutting and media consumption trends with Bryan Hill of Interxion. In closing, Hill had some useful tips for enterprises, including "Excellence in UX and content delivery – make the experience of consuming the content easy and guaranteed," and Achieve relevance by understanding your community." Check it out...

These pieces were picked from my curated channel, enterprise media disruptions. You can also view the entire digital media disruptions series.