Everybody Panic!

The overall panic in the media business yesterday over the announced changes to the Facebook News Feed was clear from my inbox and phone log. As a keen follower of Facebook's external communication about News Feed, there's no doubt it was their most direct (and dramatic) attempt to telegraph that post reach is about to drop for publishers.

I've linked to some of the best takes below, but let me add a few thoughts of my own.

(1) A lot of the analysis focused on impact to the "news" business. News people tend to think that news is the most important thing. It's important to remember that there are hundreds of cable channels, and only a handful are "news" channels. The media business is vast, and news is just a small (but important and very self-important) part of it.

(2) Facebook's core advantage over other platforms (say, Medium) is that it's social. If Facebook becomes purely a publishing platform for brands, without heavily weighting the social element, it loses it's key competitive advantage vs. everybody else. Facebook's emphasis on content shared by friends should actually be good news for publishers that have high engagement, and aren't simply using Facebook to push content out like it's an RSS feed.

(3) Far be it from me to question Facebook, as they have done an OK job building a company worth $326B, but it's also important to remember that changes can be re-changed or de-changed. Reportedly, the "problem" that Facebook is trying to solve is a reduction in the amount of personal sharing on FB. People are posting lots of things to Instagram or Snapchat, but not as much to FB. While I agree that this is a long term problem for the platform, I do not agree that the solution is to show people more pictures of their friend's kids. To me, the bar for posting personal content on Facebook has become too a world of informal and disappearing content, Facebook has become too formal. Anyway, no matter if I'm right or if I'm wrong, Facebook will continue to monitor global trends on a second by second basis and tweak News Feed to keep users scrolling as long as possible. Facebook likes to say that they are always only 1% done...if this change doesn't provide the desired results, they will make another.

Quick Hits, News Feed Edition

-Overview on what the changes mean, from ReCode.

-Pessimistic take (and inevitable Zynga comparison,) from VentureBeat. 

-Best read for publishers is the Newswhip blog, which has some concrete metrics to monitor as FB implements these changes. 

-New Facebook Live features were announced last week...the waiting room lets people gather before a broadcast starts...kind of like tuning in to a channel a minute before the show starts so you don't miss the beginning.


The future is still digital

The stories about the sky falling always get the most attention, but the reality is that there has never been a better time to be in digital media. New audience connection opportunities are appearing all the time. Besides, what choice do we have? While I love pointing to the new Nielsen study showing that we all still watch 4.5 hours per day of live TV, it's also true that media consumption on mobile is up 60% year over year. The transition may happen a lot slower than tech media thinks, but it will happen.

AT PRESS TIME: Disney investing $3.5b in MLB Advanced Media. There's your optimism in the future of digital platforms!

Did you say weekly?

Sure, maybe I said this newsletter would be weekly. And then maybe I missed a few weeks. But I really only want to click "send" when I feel there is something worth sharing. So I hope you'll put up with the rather sporadic nature of this newsletter, as client demand takes priority over my writing duties...and we sure are getting busy.

Nevertheless, all of Red Seat is committed to sharing our ideas with you on a regular basis, and we have some great client success stories to tell you about in the coming weeks as well. 

Thank you for reading.
Red Seat Ventures partners with high-profile individuals and brands to build unique digital businesses. Red Seat also provides consultancy services to media companies wanting to turbo their digital strategy. 
Copyright © 2016 Red Seat Ventures, LLC, All rights reserved.

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