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Nov 26, 2018

Three Things Publishers Can Learn from Facebook’s Earnings Call

Three Things Publishers Can Learn from Facebook’s Earnings Call

By Gil Sommer, Head of Product, Connatix

Last week, Mark Zuckerberg laid his cards on the table in a refreshingly candid Q3 earnings call. On the heels of Facebook’s turbulent year filled with data privacy concerns and slowing user growth, the CEO presented a vision of change that tapped into the core of what users want – meaningful social interactions.

For the better part of a decade, Facebook has operated like a publisher–whether it wants to admit it or not. While the company intends to move away from this model, Zuckerberg’s honest take on what went right and what went wrong is a goldmine of information, especially for publishers.

He provided a deep level of insight to help publishers navigate the future of reader engagement. For any publisher looking to keep pace with today’s consumers, here are three tactical takeaways to stay ahead of the game:

Video is king and consumers can’t get enough

Zuckerberg noted video is a critical part of Facebook’s future, and, more importantly, what its community wants, although the company still has work to do to make video a successful part of its business. This consumer need for video is a potential boon for publishers, who are now in a better position than Facebook to incorporate video (optimized for vertical on mobile devices) as a larger part of their own content experience across platforms and distribution channels.  

Readers demand a seamless experience today, so publishers who can regularly create video content need to also embrace opportunities to maximize the content. Not only will dynamic video sections that provide additional exploration opportunities give readers a deeper content experience, but also these innovations add a revenue layer for publishers via video advertising.

Stories are a powerful medium

Instagram, and Facebook itself to a slightly lesser extent, has seen tremendous success with Stories. An easily digestible vertical format, it’s growing so quickly that Facebook is changing the traditional “News Feed” culture to prioritize Stories in all of its products as a principal revenue stream.

A content medium that can live in multiple environments–a point Zuckerberg even made on the call–Stories enhances narratives and provides readers with fresh, diverse content that always changes. With ad dollars moving to vertical video and story-like formats, publishers need to embrace this and other forms of immersive content formats. It isn’t too soon to find and start testing emerging technologies that enable you to immerse readers on your own site with interactive and socially enhanced content.

Think outside the lines– and newsfeed

Most of us likely remember when Facebook emphasized actually connecting with friends and it seems the company is trying to return to its roots with an increased focus on “building meaningful communities.” As Zuckerberg said, “We’re the Internet service that people use to help connect with other people.”

This is a decided step toward user-generated content, and it’s clear that, for publishers, Facebook is no longer a friend. By removing publishers from “the inner circle,” the days of Facebook acting as a content discovery tool are gone and they’re not likely to come back. Publishers also need to invest in new ways to gain referral traffic (try Apple or Google News, invest in AMP for Google, and have technology that can support all of this in a manageable way) and find opportunities to syndicate content in a way that will attract more readers. And don’t forget about harnessing the power of in-house influencers–their voices can still be heard across social channels to drive referral traffic and deepen relationships with readers even more.

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