Media properties’ new formula: Publish … re-publish … and publish yet again.

RepublishingAs media properties have moved away from finite schedules of daily, weekly or monthly publication to something more akin to 24/7 content dissemination, it’s becoming quite a challenge to deliver new content.

The reality is, building a digital media property in today’s “always on” world that can successfully deliver new, original content on an ongoing basis is quite costly.

In fact, it’s economically unfeasible for many if not most publishing enterprises.

This explains why readers have started to see a parade of news items that have been reused, recycled or repurposed in an effort to present the items as “fresh” news multiple times over.

This is happening with greater regularly, and it’s seemingly getting more prevalent with every passing day.

Here’s a representative case:  Business Insider.  This finance and news site has doubled its traffic over the past several years.  Business Insider now attracts more than 12 million unique visitors each month – each of them presumably interested in consuming “fresh news.”

But for content that is fairly “evergreen” in nature, Business Insider is perfectly content to serve up the same (or nearly similar) stories two … three … four times or more.

For example, one of its stories, “Facts About McDonald’s That Will Blow Your Mind,” has been published no fewer than six times over a span of three years.

The various iterations of that article varied very little each time.  Sometimes there were a different number of facts presented (usually 15 or 16).  Business Insider even published the identical list twice in the same year, using the exact same headline while revising only the introductory paragraph.

Beyond the fact that publishing essentially the same article six times within three years took some of the burden off the news-gathering and writing team, it turns out that topics such as this one really do engage readers — time and again.

Business Insider’s first iteration of the McDonald’s article attracted more than 2.5 million views.  And overall, the story has been clicked on more than 8 million times.

(Of course, the final time the article ran, the story generated only around 400,000 views, so at some point the law of diminishing returns had to come into play.)

articleI like another example, too:  Cosmopolitan Magazine.  In April of this year, it published an article titled “25 Life-Changing Ways to Use Q-tips.”  That story generated only 44 shares — hardly earth-shattering results for a media property with over 3 million subscribers.

But then Cosmopolitan promoted the article on Pinterest in May … and also on Twitter in May and again in June … and on Facebook in early May and again there in early June.

Whereas Cosmopolitan’s original posting of the article on its own website didn’t result in much engagement to speak of, just the two Facebook posts resulted in nearly 1,500 shares.

With these kinds of results being generated, it’s no wonder publishers have decided to “publish … re-publish … and then publish again.”

So the next time you have a sensation of déjà vu about reading an article, chances are, you’re not dreaming.

Tough Nut: Shoehorning Social Media Practices into an Existing Corporate Culture

managing social mediaIn late May 2014, Business Insider published an article about the processes by which corporations and their brands plan and manage their social media efforts.

It elicited derision and snorts of laughter in response.

Why?  For starters, the story sported this irreverent headline:  “We Got a Look Inside the 45-day Planning Process that Goes Into Creating a Single Corporate Tweet.”

And inside the article, it was revealed that it took the four-person agency team that handles the social media program for the Président Cheese brand 45 days to take a single tweet from conception to published reality.

For the record, here is the tweet as it finally appeared on Twitter:

President Cheese tweet

On the one hand, it seems patently ridiculous that a single tweet should take so long to germinate, come to fruition and be published.  At that pace, the Président Cheese brand is going to be left in the dust.

[To add further insult, the social media accounts in question had only ~100 Twitter followers and ~220 Facebook likes at the time.]

But let’s look more closely.  The tweet is recommending serving camembert cheese at room temperature for better flavor, rather than straight out of the refrigerator.

It’s a mild enough suggestion … but it has potential negative implications concerning food safety — or at least the perception of such.

When one is a brand sold nationally, such considerations aren’t merely theoretical; a simple tweet can be turned into a cudgel to beat over the head of the brand in the case of a lawsuit over food sanitation.

Considered in those terms, it no longer seems quite so strange that it took the MarComm agency so many days to go from ideation through the review-and-approval process to get to publication.

And the four agency people involved?  They’re the team assigned to the brand’s social media account, and the full group’s involvement was a single meeting to discuss the upcoming month’s social media topics.

It turns out that “planned” topics represent about one-third of the Président Cheese activity on social media platforms; the rest of the postings are done on the fly, responding to customer chatter, answering questions or weighing in on other comments, and responding to food trend news or other developments that tie in with the world of food, hospitality and entertaining.

So, like so many other factors in the business world and in life, the 45-day tweet isn’t a black-and-white issue of failure; it’s shades of gray.

Now that we’ve seen both sides of the coin, I think it’s still legitimate to question the length of time and the amount of energy required to post a single tweet.

Several ways to correct this come to mind.  One is for brands to stay away from any topics that might expose them to the risk of public relations problems or potential legal repercussions.

But in a world where brands are competing against an endless crowd of other social posters … that seems like a pretty sure ticket to irrelevance and social media oblivion.

At the same time, any MarComm agency or in-house social media department needs to adhere to some practical standards of vetting so that some ill-conceived post doesn’t blow up in the company’s face.

The sweet spot — or at least the proper balance between interest, efficiency and prudence — would be creating a streamlined client approval process involving only one or two people (plus backups) who are sufficiently attuned to the brand’s market position and the best ways to advance it and protect it.

Oh, and the team assigned to the responsibility needs to be available 24/7 for vetting purposes (hence the need for backup personnel who are at-the-ready).

It may be a pesky responsibility, but in the “always-on” world of marketing today, it’s really the only way to go if one wishes to participate on the interactive playing field.

The alternative is a tweet that takes weeks to be published … and I doubt anyone is ever going to be satisfied with that.

Facebook Continues on its Merry Way to Social Media (and Web?) Dominance

Here’s a very interesting finding ripped from today’s social media headlines: The Business Insider and other media outlets are reporting that Facebook now accounts for nearly one in four page views on the Internet in the United States.

So claims database marketing consulting firm Drake Direct, which has studied web traffic in the U.S. and the U.K. by analyzing data collected by Compete, a leading aggregator of web statistics.

Just to give you an idea of how significant Facebook’s results are: by comparison, search engine powerhouse Google accounts for only about one in twelve page views.

And Facebook is now closing in on Google when it comes to site visits – with each currently receiving around 2.5 billion visits per month. In fact, studying the trend lines, Drake Direct anticipates that Facebook site visits will surpass Google any time now.

Another interesting finding is that the length of the average Facebook visit now surpasses that of YouTube (~16 minutes versus ~14 minutes per visit), whereas YouTube had charted longer visits prior to now.

These findings underscore the continued success of Facebook as the most successful social media site, even as it has grown to 350+ million users, including more than 100 million in the U.S. with 5 million added in January alone. No doubt, it’s on a roll.