tDo Buzz News Publishers Need a New Content Strategy?

Do you run an entertainment news website or blog that’s receiving diminished levels of traffic lately? First of all, it’s a jungle out there, and many get gobbled up. Or die of hunger. It takes a special animal to survive and prosper online.

Some estimates claim that 95 percent of all blogs and content websites fail within 3 months of launching. It’s not an encouraging figure, but if you aim to be in the top 10 percentile, you’ve come to the right place.

But since that’s pretty much true across the board, why are we picking on the buzz websites? Well, the content strategy for trending entertainment websites has been simple and very effective: Sex sells, and more importantly, drives traffic, a lot of traffic. However, that may no longer be the case.

Maxim, a leading men’s mag, decided to switch content strategies and instead of focusing on T&A focus more on fashion. This new content strategy generated 50% more page views and $10 million more in annual ad revenue (read the article).

Is Maxim gliding upwards on the winds of change or is it just a fad? We think the former. One of the most important aspects to consider with entertainment news is being there first, so if you want to be one of those who adopted this change of direction early, here’s how:

Content Strategy vs. Content Marketing

Many publishers mistakenly think a content strategy means content marketing. It isn’t, but it’s very easy to get confused. Especially from a publisher’s point of view. But let’s understand the difference. It’s important to understanding our role in the publishing and advertising ecosystem.

Content marketing is a popular method for advertisers to strengthen their brand and improve SEO, among others. The main goal of content marketing is to reach clients at the research or awareness stages of the purchase process and try to convert them to leads through content.

As a publisher and reader, you may consider content marketing to be “sponsored content”, and it’s a popular (though not at all flawless) monetization engine. Mostly because it reaches those illusive ad-blocker users.

A content strategy is something different and more holistic. Wikipedia defines content strategy as “… the planning, development, and management of content — written or in other media”.

Literally EVERY business looking to profit from an online presence, needs a content strategy. It doesn’t matter if you’re selling books or offering dog-grooming services, the right content strategy will result in a positive ROI.

As a publisher, your product IS content. So this creates a kind of circular effect where you’re often promoting your content with… content. This means that what we often do, as publishers and editors, is look for the most effective way to incorporate content marketing into our content strategy from more angles than one.

The Next Strategy

What’s that? A question from the audience? Okay… It says here: “What’s wrong with my current content strategy? It’s worked well so far!”

Good question, and I am not surprised you ask. Many buzz publishers tend to find a comfy spot where revenues keep them afloat, and so they mostly invest in business development.

Once you build some authority on Google, a follower base, and a great promotion strategy for CPC arbitrage — you’re on the golden path. But if you focus on business development and neglect your content strategy — you’ll lose. Lose big time.

You know very well that we live in a very fluid world. Especially in the entertainment niche. Content can go from a rumor to viral in a matter of minutes, and from a comment on Reddit to a full blown internet tzunami.

And whomever is there first, gets to surf it and capitalize on it. But none of this is news to you. You’ve been doing this for a while.

It’s clear that unlike sales-driven companies, your content strategy is the core of your business. And it influences your revenues more than anything else. You can look at it as a kind of skeleton upon which your business grows. It’s an infrastructure that allows magic to happen.

It’s important to understand that a new content strategy doesn’t mean breaking the bones of your business core. It’s actually more like a flexible skeleton that you can build upon. Sounds weird, but I’m sticking with that metaphor for a reason.

Setting Goals

Remember the 95 percent of content publishing sites that fail within up to 3 months? From my experience, they all have one thing in common. When asked what the goal of their content strategy is, they often answer “MONEY!” The remaining ten percent have a better answer.

Yes, money makes the world go round. Everyone wants it but cash doesn’t grow on trees or banner ads. There’s a lot more to a content strategy than the tunnel vision of monetary profit from content creation.

You need to take a holistic stance to create a truly flexible content strategy. Every buzz publisher is different so you need to evaluate your goals, resources and processes to create a content strategy that’s right for you.

When setting these goals you should be asking yourself the following questions:

  1. Who is my audience? How old are they? Where do they live? What languages do they speak? What do they care about? What grabs their attention?
  2. Where does my content “live”? Where do my readers consume this content and when?
  3. What is my unique sales proposition? What makes my site better than that of someone else?
  4. Is this business something I want to continue growing, or am I looking to start it and sell it?
  5. What is the optimal mix of revenue sources for this site?

Answering all these can help you set goals. It’s a good place to start on the road to becoming the next TMZ.

Or you could try and just make some money and then sell the business for a hefty profit. The type of publishing business you want to develop influences your content strategy but doesn’t change the fact it needs to be bendy and adjust quickly to change.

The Anatomy of a Winning Content Strategy

Setting your goals and answering the questions above should assist you in constructing a sustainable and profitable content strategy. One with a bouncy and flexible skeleton. Yeah, I am still rolling with the skeleton metaphor. Try and stop me!

So let’s put our mad scientist hats on, and engineer this winning monster of a strategy.

Audience Engagement

This is the spine of our strategy. One of the reasons we chose the entertainment niche is because, first, it has almost universal appeal, and second, it thrives on engaging the audience.

Who doesn’t want to be entertained?

Liking or commenting is more than most users are willing to do, but if content engages them, they will often seek similar and additional content from the same source. If you’re monetizing with advertising that’s what you really want anyway — pageviews.

Remember, that no matter how smart your monetization strategy is, an engaged audience is the engine of your business.

Social Social Social

These are the lungs of our creature. It breathes social and cannot exist without it. Why social? Numerous reasons. Because it’s the most effective way to spread content based on its quality and relevance, rather than monetary investment in promotion. Because it’s where your audience is. Because it’s where everything happens nowadays. Because it’s where people go now to be entertained.

Forget SEO and link exchanges and optimizing for search engines. No one specifically searches for “Top 10 of Donald Trump’s Worst Photos Ever.” It is a catchy headline though, and they would click on it if they saw it in their Facebook feed because they know it will entertain them. That’s why I didn’t put a link up there. Stay with me.

We know users are lazy. This is why you want to make it super-easy to share content. Incorporate sharing widgets, audience collection pixels and activity on the social media channels your audience occupies.

Invest in building a loyal audience, refine it, create look-alikes using social media tools and target them with ads to get more traffic.

Social has another important role in creating entertaining content — it often provides it. Celebrity Instagram and Twitter accounts, silly threads on Reddit and things happening on social media turn into content.

For example, odds are that most people witness Kanye West being weird on Twitter via entertainment sites than they actually do on twitter. Too much of a hassle to follow him. Easier to read the digest.

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Channel diversification

Our creation needs to walk and touch and reach audiences. So it has legs and arms — channels for content delivery. These depend strongly on where your audience consumes content and where you WANT them to consume it.

There are many variables involved in deciding on the right channels to target. For example, most buzz worthy content is consumed on mobile. So you have to decide if a mobile app or a mobile website is the right solution for you.

It’s not easy to get on Google’s News RSS feed, but if you include anything that can be defined as newsworthy — you want to be there. Google Now on Android devices will often show users updates from websites they’ve visited recently. If these appear on Google’s feed.

Another arm our monster can grow is email marketing. Although less and less users are keen to share their email address with entertainment sites (or at all), this can still be a useful channel. Especially if you add value to it. And monetize it.

Revenue Generation

At the heart of our creature is making money. As long as the heart beats, the creature lives. Without income, you can’t pay writers, can’t afford content creation and sooner or later — rent checks start coming back.

It’s not only about choosing schemes like CPC, CPM, content marketing, affiliate marketing or others. It’s about finding the right time, place, and quantity for each to generate maximal revenues.

This means creating a user experience that won’t only bring users back and make them share the content, but will help turn them into clients for your advertisers. And make you money.

Analysis & Optimization

In addition to a flexible spine, a big heart, healthy lungs, and limber limbs our creature needs to be smart to survive among predators. So it has two brains working in unison: analysis and optimization.

These two don’t only keep our creation alive and prosperous, but help it evolve and improve all the time. Limbs that don’t serve a purpose fall off and new ones are grow in its place. It’s easy, with a flexible skeleton.

Our best advice is to be brave and keep trying. Innovation wins. So get creative. Grow your content strategy to sell as a pet, or ride it proudly into the sunset. Either way, if the genetics are good, your creation might invade Tokyo. And make you money on the way.

I’m Head of Marketing Operations at AdNgin. Before coming to AdNgin, I was a marketing professional focused on SAAS business models. When I’m not working, which is rare, I sail and hang out with my son, Jonathan, and wife, Meital.


Originally published at www.adngin.com on March 3, 2016.