Why Facebook Is Still Really Important for Local Publishers in 2018

By |2018-05-22T21:06:12+00:00April 9th, 2018|

Facebook continues to dominate headlines. Ongoing changes to its algorithms—and revelations about its methods—have wide-ranging effects felt all over the world.

Some announcements particularly affect the fate of local publishers as they urgently compete for engagement. And the news can be grim. But there’s an upside.

The very fact that social media is front-page international news day after day proves that social is increasingly woven into the fabric of people’s lives, more even than a few years ago. So there’s a good reason companies big and small include Facebook in their strategies. It’s been a major source of traffic for most publishers for the last five years. In 2018, despite recent declines, it continues to be a large traffic source, and it will continue to be an important component of overall traffic moving forward. This year, companies will absolutely need organic.

The secret is to devote strategic resources to getting ahead of the curve, to diversify (as I’ll describe in an upcoming post), and to be able to respond with agility to whatever happens. And True Anthem can help by simply freeing up the precious time of your best thinkers.

While we all figure out how to face whatever comes down the pike, True Anthem can help with the hard day-to-day work publishers must always take on.

More good news? Facebook hearts local, and that counts for something too.

Facebook Still Matters for Local Publishers

Facebook seems determined to help local news sources. Its latest move toward a previously stated goal “to help metro newspapers” is a $3 million program that may upset ongoing declines in organic traffic for those sources.

The Local News Subscriptions Accelerator, as it’s called, aims to teach local media to make the most of digital. Facebook started off working with the likes of the Boston Globe and the San Francisco Chronicle, and has hired elite staff to coach the publishers in person monthly.

Facebook earlier announced its related Journalism Project, which also was designed to promote independent and local news media. Mark Zuckerberg says he’s motivated by research that shows “reading local news is directly correlated with civic engagement.”

In January, Facebook said it would prioritize links from within a user’s “tight geographic area.” (The Facebook algorithms determine if a particular domain is local to the user—and if it is, and the user engages with that source, stories from that source will often appear more prominently in News Feed. I wrote about how to make the most of the changes here.)

Early results are in, and the upshot for local news sources, media, and broadcasters is positive—even for those beyond the handful selected for Facebook’s Accelerator program. This is their time to shine, as local-news content is suddenly favorably reprioritized.

Despite the well documented declines in organic reach across Facebook, our local broadcast partners have seen their average daily link clicks remain steady (actually trending slightly upward) since late last year. While declining reach isn’t ideal, the reality is that link clicks drive traffic, reach does not. Local broadcasters are still seeing strong results from their work on Facebook.

All this shows yet again how powerful social media algorithms are and the shifting nature of publishers’ codependent relationship with them. We believe publishers need algorithms of their own to work with Facebook’s.

The AI-powered tech that True Anthem provides boosts the already sunny outlook for local sources by posting around the clock and selecting stories that take into account audience receptivity.

Riding Out the Changes

True Anthem intelligently automates the process of where and when to post content so that companies are always at the forefront, putting their most engaging work out at the right moment. We know publishers may have thousands of potential posts a day to choose from, so we index and rank every article on your website. As the real world shifts and news breaks, our AI adapts in real time, thanks to predictive analytics.

Our scalable tool also enhances human ability, spotting patterns in successes and engagement with particular categories of content, and then optimizing a company’s presence on social based on that data.

We front-load content based on information we gather, determining how much to recirculate, and build out time slots with our clients. Clients can also always swap in content at the last minute—or allow us to suggest a post or tweet likely to perform best. We work with the managers at publishers’ helms to override or pick from among whatever our own tech recommends in order to give our clients complete editorial control. We see that as tech and people working together, supplementing the best abilities of each.

As the data reveals which posts are most likely to outperform others and what the ideal timing is, True Anthem posts, getting good content out in the wee hours of the morning (surprisingly important for engagement on Facebook, which faults publishers for lulls in activity).

Basically, our hyper-customizable AI is ready to go to work for you and only as much as you ask it to. True Anthem is much more than an efficient scheduling tool because of this. We want to liberate social media managers to have the bandwidth to do what they do best.

What’s Next?

News sources have to adapt almost constantly to changes in the online world, and the role of Facebook—whether it thinks of itself as a platform or a media company—is more profound than ever. The key is clearly to stick with social, automate using True Anthem to free up important thought leader time—and diversify (more on that here soon).

Social media is not going away anytime soon, and no one can afford to walk away from organic distribution on Facebook. If you’re a local publisher looking to stay on the cutting edge and specifically maximize the impact of your local stories on social or benchmark yourself against our current clients, talk to us—or just click here to request a demo.

New changes are surely coming from platforms, and when they appear, True Anthem will be on top of them too.

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