4. Bracing for Facebook Changes
There is a state of general unease among publishers around Facebook’s changes over the past year. It’s no secret that Facebook is more tightly restricting organic distribution of posts and pushing page operators to supplement with paid promotion.
The impact of reduced organic reach has been felt more squarely by marketers thus far, but there’s apprehension about whether the changes will start to impact publishers more meaningfully. For us, Facebook is a key organic referrer of traffic to our sites, as well as an important channel for promotion of various initiatives.
As a result, we’ve implemented tight controls over page operations and content to stay on the right side of policy changes, like the recent announcement about the limiting of “promotional” posts in users’ news feeds. We’ve expanded and closely evaluated our paid Facebook advertising program, supplementing organic results and gauging what a further expanded program would cost. We’re also continuing to invest in bolstering our alternative channels, from email to other social media.
5. Better Leveraging Editorial Expertise
Like many publishers, one of our core competencies is our ability to create high-quality editorial content. But as we’ve expanded our business model beyond media and into other products and services, we haven’t always maximized the established skills and processes of our editorial team to guide content creation and product development. Fundamentally, the principles that drive good content creation are universal regardless of the format–whether it’s articles, videos, custom content or online training courses.
However, it’s too easy for content creation to happen in silos and to miss opportunities to leverage our editors’ skills and established processes to improve content quality and limit duplication of effort. One of our goals in 2015 is to tear down the walls between our content-producing teams and improve cross-functional collaboration. Similar to the challenge many publishers faced getting print journalists to adapt to digital, we’re trying to effect a shift in mindset and encourage a broader understanding of digital content and the expanding opportunities to monetize it.
6. Motivating My Team and Creating a Growth Mindset
A successful year–like many of us had in 2014–inevitably requires a lot of team energy and focus, which often can lead to a flat start to the following year. To maintain momentum as we start the New Year, it’s critical to gauge the mindset of the team and find ways to maintain and grow that reservoir of energy and excitement.
I ask myself a series of questions: Is my team reinvigorated or are they tired coming off of a year when we stretched to grow the business almost 20 percent? Are they aligned with objectives for 2015? Do they have their sales targets and are they tracking to hit January numbers? Does the company have a distinct and evolved mission for the year, and has that been messaged effectively to all teams? Is there a growth mindset in place?
It is increasingly important to keep employees engaged, growing professionally and motivated to thrive, so it’s critical to come out of the gate fast, build off of the prior year’s success and use the New Year to reset expectations. We conduct a companywide kick off during the first two weeks of the year to announce a company growth target and make sure everyone has their sales targets and goals as soon as possible. We’ve also had success with an annual “company challenge” that identifies a year-end target metric for each team and motivates them to work both individually and collectively to hit it, with a set of prizes at year end if those goals are met or exceeded.
Ultimately, worries are part of the game in the rapidly evolving landscape of digital media. But addressed properly, they can be the fuel to propel improvement in key areas – particularly if you approach each New Year with eyes wide open, ask hard questions and anticipate what challenges and opportunities the year is likely to present.