With an industry as unmellowed (relatively) as digital publishing, publishers are bound to encounter some blocks on their vying to find the right path to success. And while it’s true that more and more publishers realize the need to transition from a mindset of “push to sell” to one that focuses on “pull with content”, a clear understanding of how to make content work still falls amiss sometimes, causing even the most agile and forward-thinking of publishers to trip over themselves in the journey to leverage on epublishing.
We know that content is created and distributed to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience. We know its great value and the urgent need for it to drive profitable reader responses that we, sometimes, resort to take the road more traveled in an attempt to see results quickly. This road is like a gauze bandage covering an aggravating wound. It’s a temporary solution in digital success. The content strategy will gain more audience for the time being but in the long run, audience will be plucked one by one from the dashboards because of its transience. The result can greatly affect the publication, in the long run.
But who wants to make mistakes when you can avoid such stopgaps through forewarnings? Originally posted on iMedia Connection, Nadav Shoval‘s piece gives us a heads-up on the 3 content strategies that may actually doing your digital publishing more harm than good.
With distribution a key element to driving publisher success, social media initially seemed like the perfect platform — highly targeted outreach that was also scalable. Between volunteered data on likes and dislikes, huge organic reach, and captive/engaged eyeballs, social media served publishers well. Giant social networks with huge user bases would provide a platform for digital publishers to connect with and get in front of their audience in a context where they were already conditioned to share, comment, and like — in short, where they were wired to engage.
But with Facebook lowering organic reach and other platforms failing to live up to their distributive potential, social media now seems to be holding hostage the same audience they once provided access to. Publishers who receive the majority of their referral traffic from Facebook are facing a grim reality where the communities they spent time and effort building are no longer seeing their content. If publishers want to succeed long-term they need to start growing and nurturing communities of readers and fans on their own sites as opposed to on external platforms. Social media will always be an important way for publishers to reach new readers/users, but as new social technologies evolve and the social possibilities of websites improve for readers, these external platforms have ceased to be the only place for users to engage and interact with content.
For revenue-strapped publishers, content recommendation was an ingenious way of sharing the attention of users to help everyone make more money — and the basic assumption behind it is correct. It is foolish to assume that in today’s content-saturated world you can keep a reader’s interest indefinitely. By acknowledging that they will want to move on at some point, and helping them to do that, publishers are able to drive revenue from a site exit that was going to happen anyway.
But the new revenue publishers receive comes at the cost of losing a chance to build a strong and engaged community of site visitors. While a certain amount of bounce is to be expected, by directing users off-site, content recommendation is slowly cannibalizing publishers’ brand communities. Prompting users to click away from your content may bring in a slice of revenue, but won’t build your reader’s relationship with your brand and your content in the long run. Content recommendation that is more heavily biased towards recirculating traffic to other articles from the same publisher may decrease the amount of money coming in every month, but will have long-term benefits on a publisher’s bottom line.
While they may have fallen out of favor with some publishers recently (both Bloomberg and Reuters have removed the comment section from their sites entirely), comments remain one of the most effective means of driving engagement on-site — an increasingly important goal as the viewability debate heats up. Comments are a core component of driving the kind of conversation around your content that marks true engagement, as well as increasing the amount of user-generated content on your site — crucial for a good SEO ranking. They make readers feel as though they have a voice when it comes to the content and issues they care about, and serve to strengthen the relationship between a publisher and a reader.
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