Content in Crisis: How the Huffington Post and Facebook are Presenting Options for Content Marketers

By Sander Biehn | Jan 31, 2018

Sander Biehn is founder and CEO of Thought Horizon, LLC. After a successful career in sales at AT&T, he founded his company in 2013 helping organizations to build, manage and succeed using social selling.

Content has been making news in 2018 as news outlets and social media channels alike struggle to monetize and inform using what they publish. One thing seems certain, simply providing content to create mass popularity with a widely diverse audience may no longer the goal for some news publishers and should not be the goal for marketers either.

A January New York Times article quietly relayed an end of an era for The Huffington Post in what probably amounts to a vision of things to come for so many news outlets like it. The extremely popular ‘contributor section’ is being dismantled. Editor-in-chief Lydia Polgreen hopes to focus the reporting and help better vet its veracity.  Ms. Polgreen is in for the fight of her life, but she’s doing the right thing if THP hopes to remain relevant. Amazingly, Facebook announced almost the same day that they would go the opposite direction. Facebook is beginning to serve up content to users solely based on the popularity of that content with other users who hold similar political and personal views.

Upon hearing about the end of the ‘contributor network’ at the Huffington Post, others started to wonder and blog about ‘what will happen to content marketing now that the Contributor Network is no more?’  Is it the end of content marketing over social?

Allow me to clear the deck for you. A war for eyeballs is waging and there are two distinct ways of thinking about how to win it.  First, we have The Huffington Post.  They now realize that having a point of view and reporting on things that intrinsically matter to an audience of their choosing is paramount in a media-choked world. Never mind the polls or what the ‘influencers’ are saying—they want to give us what they are seeing in the world, not what others want to write about.

Conversely, there is Facebook. They have done a deal with the devil to win their market cap. They have sold their content soul to anyone who can bring more traffic to their site.  Of course, they really have no choice because they are not in the business of creating content anyway and must rely on others to do so. Think about it–without content Facebook is an empty shell.

So where does this leave the modern content marketer in 2018? What is the best method to win those valuable eyeballs?

I’m ready to bet on The Huffington Post.  Content needs to go up a notch. It is simply not enough to create juicy click-bait and I think publishers are starting to agree.  Besides, popularity cycles are starting to be measured in just days, not weeks or months.  This makes popularity over the long run that much harder to attain.  Creating a social feed that honors your customer’s intelligence will mean plenty to your buyers even if it never wins any popularity awards within social media.

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