Late last month, Vox Media said it is laying off 50 talented people, with most of the cuts coming from video service teams. It cited a need to scale back native social video efforts as they "won’t be viable audience or revenue growth drivers for us relative to other investments we are making."
As a creative communications agency with an ever-increasing focus on video content, this isn’t just a headline about the latest blip in digital media. It’s a serious admission on how and why brands should use Facebook.
We live in the reality that Facebook’s algorithm is the most powerful force in modern marketing and communications. Every tweak of code has real life implications for thousands of writers and editors. For publishers, the days of Facebook being a reliable place to invest time and resources may be over; the feed is a marketing channel. Just like other marketing channels, the most brilliant creative only succeeds with an equally brilliant distribution plan.
Even if publisher branded content teams shrink, hunger for online video will continue to grow. As publishers turn down the opportunity to feed the Facebook algorithm and invest resources elsewhere, this opens up a need for high quality content that keeps people on the platform. To put it bluntly, less high-quality organic content created by publishers means less competition in news feeds.
Brands can meet this demand directly, but only with the right content and distribution plans from agency partners who understand the new online dynamic. The good news for PRWeek readers is that agencies’ strategies will include earned media, an aspect that differentiates us in increasingly important ways. As partners, we must have the ability to produce content like a scrappy creator without sacrificing the integrity of the communications. At the same time, this creative spirit is meaningless without sharp, analytically driven approaches to distribution. We have to be adaptive and unafraid that what worked last week may not work next week or even tomorrow.
As we continue to see the monoculture shatter, it’s harder to find singular places to draw attention. In many ways, Facebook is still the new Main Street. Rather than abandon it, brands have an opportunity to educate, entertain, and inform with smartly produced and placed video content. Don’t fight the feed. Feed it.
Ryan Delafosse and John Urquhart are strategy and creative directors, respectively, at Praytell.