The internet may no longer be a “new frontier,” but it is evolving at a pace that is seemingly getting ahead of us all.
In fact, the internet has really become an entire universe of its own that at times baffles the best of us, if we’re honest, flooding us with information daily.
What’s the impact of this content overdose, and what’s to become of how we distribute and receive content if the internet is growing each and every second of each and every day? Here are some changes you can expect in 2016 and beyond, and some tips on how to adapt and make your content matter during this ongoing, confusing transition.
Social Media Sites go Beyond Social
It’s an understatement to say that social media sites have exploded in popularity. From big names like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to up-and-coming apps like Periscope, Peach and Slack, the sheer number of social media apps alone is enough to make your head spin. That’s both a good and a bad thing. For one thing, the functions of social media sites are changing from purely social environments to marketplaces for buying and selling products, ideas and content. It’s not just a place for you to share content in hopes of it going “viral” anymore. And it’s getting harder and harder to create native content on these platforms.
What’s behind this transition? Well, money of course. While Facebook hasn’t really had money troubles, the smaller guys are looking down an empty barrel financially if they can’t rework their own business models. So they are.
Facebook is setting the pace for the new social media landscape for 2016, which includes some major changes that will affect how your content is treated, who sees it, and how. These are game-changing trends in social media marketing that you’ll want to know about. Here are a few:
- Facebook’s “Instant Articles” feature allows Facebook to host its own content to keep you on the site. Other sites are doing similar things, such as with Twitter “Moments” and Snapchat “Discover.” Instant Articles “gives media outlets nearly complete control over the ad revenue generated through its hosted content” and Instant Articles ad inventory will be able to better track and target ads. It’s also available via Facebook’s Advertising Network (FAN), so be sure to take advantage of this new feature to step up your content distribution on this top site.
- Expect to pay for followers if you want your content prioritized. Several big social media sites are offering a pay option, and it may be worth the money when you consider that your posts reach only about 16% of your followers.
- In an effort to compete with Google, Facebook now has its own search engine called Search FYI. This means that your content should be optimized for this new feature, using effective keywords and making your content matter with more video posts and more interactive content in general.
- Marketers can now access more information on their customers with a new communications tool just launched by Facebook. The tool offers a redesigned inbox with information to help tailor your interactions with customers. Additional features like tags and notes will also help brands communicate with customers more efficiently, in real time. These changes are important to note if you have a business page on Facebook because they give you information on who is visiting your page and why, and help you to build a more personalized relationship with followers at the same time.
- Messaging apps are everywhere. This is a major shift. Millennials no longer really use email so email campaigns are becoming less and less fruitful. Instead they are using apps like WhatsApp. To meet your audience where they are, you may benefit from trying in-app messaging. A recent article on Mobile Marketer says that brands “should start planning their conversational, messaging-based engagement strategy, and adopting to a whole new paradigm of direct, personal engagement with the audience.”
Video Content will Shine the Brightest
Engage, Engage, Engage. That’s the name of the game for 2016. Consumers are used to ad-free programming with sites like Netflix and Hulu and they’re willing to pay for it. Subscription-based service models are becoming the norm, as are other shifts like the popularity of live feeds on popular social media sites and apps. Distributing content via video can be tricky when an estimated 72 hours of new video is uploaded every minute on YouTube, so new approaches will be needed if you want your video content to make it to your target audience.
Changes in the content streamed in 2016 will require a new focus on “personalization, distribution, and availability,” according to Talking Media, and here are a few ways to achieve this new focus:
- Embrace live feeds for added personalization. Facebook just added a “Live” feature, and the popularity of apps like Snapchat and the gaming live-stream app Twitch have grown massively. Live feeds give users a sneak peak that feels more personal than other forms of video, so if you can create content via a live feed app, you’re creating something of a relationship with the viewer. Hopefully this relationship will in turn bring the viewer to your website as a loyal customer of your services/product. Other new forms of video to embrace for 2016 will be 360-degree video, auto-play and vertical video.
- Make sure video content is accessible outside of social media sites. You want ownership of your content for maximum results, and you want viewers to ultimately land on your page (which will be more challenging with the new changes made by Facebook), so don’t solely rely on social media sites to share video content. Get creative!
- Increase your video’s visibility and widen its distribution by optimizing the video search results. There are step-by-step tutorials to help you do this, but here are the basics: find video keywords that have YouTube results on the first page of Google and use them. Videos that are most popular on Google are typically how-to videos, tutorials and reviews.
But Look outside of Social Media too
Content distribution outside of social media sites is expected to increase in 2016 as the sheer volume of content becomes more unmanageable. A report conducted by ACI and cited by Talking Media supports this outlook, reporting that every minute, Google gets over four million queries, Facebook shares over two million pieces of content, and Instagrammers post nearly 220,000 photos. This might look like a promising arena for content, but it’s essentially a content distribution nightmare.
A study conducted by BuzzSumo and Moz found that out of one million random articles on Facebook, over 50% had two or fewer Facebook interactions and over 75% had no internal links. Basically, the study found that the majority of content published on the internet is simply ignored when it comes to links and shares. These findings also mentioned something we kind of already knew: that the list post and video post are still the most popular. List posts aren’t so last-year; actually the contrary is true. List posts and why posts got higher numbers of referring domain links in this study, and along with video they are the most popular because of their interactive quality.
Content that gets read or viewed is all about engagement, interaction, and quality. Just consider the popularity of “news” sites like Reddit and BuzzFeed. If an article doesn’t have gifs, memes, or quizzes, we don’t want it. It’s not even always about the actual content: it’s about the interaction with the reader/viewer. Articles shared on social media or posted to your website simply aren’t enough.
Readability still matters
No matter how content evolves, the most important thing is for your content to be easy to read and easy to access. The key is to make your content “glanceable,” but don’t be deceived. That does not necessarily mean short.
In fact, shorter is not always better, with both text and video. Studies have actually shown that longer videos get more plays than shorter ones (under five minutes). This could be because people are looking for high quality video content, and the longer the video the more information and more time spent in its creation.
More consumption is moving to social media platforms, making it harder and harder for brands to build relationships with their consumers and make a profit from content distribution. This all means that marketers need to get creative, embrace the content shifts and follow the yellow brick road, wherever that might take us.