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Algorithms not only help with finding content but also impact the content creation process. Therefore, any online content producer – from the media to corporate entities – might have to take this into account in the future.
Until now, SEO has played a major role in governing how content is distributed online – and in some cases, how content is created. Copy optimization and keyword distribution are now common strategies (among others) for maximizing the visibility of content online. Nowadays, algorithms also impact directly not only visibility in search engines, but also the way content is structured or even processed. From Robot Journalism to live content optimization, algorithms now rule the world of content. Understanding how those algorithms work will offer a big advantage in terms of insights for those working on the distribution and creation of content.
Content-optimized algorithms already are part of our daily life –search engine algorithms display content in a way that is optimized for the reader, with results also customized based on geolocation, common search terms, etc. Social networks know more about you to serve you not only the most relevant ads, but also the best content (look at the detail of Facebook’s Edgerank for instance). News portals are displayed according to your taste (look at Google News or Yahoo News customization options).
Some websites go even further by adapting their homepage in real-time to account for the most recent trends (see the example of Melty.fr) or by detecting the next big trends (Buzzfeed.com for instance). With the integration of Facebook in media (and media in Facebook), newspaper homepages are getting more and more personalized and computer-assisted editorial content is already a reality.
Social networks collect data all day long about user preferences and have built databases to profile tastes. Based on content, it’s now possible to determine the affinity not only with a brand but with its content, opening the door of targeted content based on the audience tastes. Some companies are already investigating these options (Curata, Infinigraph or Gravity among them). Don’t be surprised if tomorrow your behavior and tastes make brands be even friendlier with you.
What if robots could understand audiences better than humans? Robot journalism isn’t science fiction anymore – it’s becoming reality. In a world where information is becoming a commodity and where economic pressures force content creation to lower costs, robots are the ideal companion for productivity. They already outperform sports journalists in some articles. And the progress in Artificial Intelligence, semantic analysis and trend analysis lets us imagine a not-so-far future where robot journalists would be much more developed.
If these emerging trends are a reality, the job of PR agencies might have to evolve to adapt to this new type of content distribution. They’ll have to understand how influence is reshaped with the help of algorithms and how to glean insights through this new mechanism. In fact, PR will more than ever have to act as a filter to target a specific audience and make sure that the message gets delivered.
A couple of years ago, search engines disrupted the way content was distributed and accessed online. They led to the creation of Search Engine Optimization as a way to understand how to optimize content visibility. In this age of computer-assisted editorial content creation, content algorithm optimization might be the next SEO. Public relations consultants may have to develop the skills to be ready for new content distribution and creation strategies in the coming years, which involve a new stakeholder: the machine.