The US election of 2016 proved that the media is as powerful as ever. Donald Trump’s meteoric rise was fueled by the media’s never ending coverage. That is not up for debate. What has been questioned as of late is whether it’s the traditional news media companies that were most influential, or whether it was something else: fake news.
Savvy (and unscrupulous) website owners realized that in a highly polarized environment, it was easy to garner shares on social media if they wrote sensationalist headlines. These stories have become more and more popular, with several going viral this election season.
Even large websites can be tempted to run such stories if they gain enough steam. That is because traffic is king, and in an age where the competition for readers is fierce, posting a sensationalist article can be a way of getting eyeballs on your content.
But, what about all the classy websites out there that are doing good, honest work? Can they even compete anymore with the teenagers in the Balkans who are pumping out incredibly popular fake news every day? How do they build a sustainable audience in this increasingly fragmented environment?
The answer is yes, but it will take a new kind of approach to gaining an audience. News sites will be able to attract real, quality visitors if they use the right content exchange networks.
These services, sometimes called link exchanges, are becoming more and more popular as a way of disseminating information. There is one in particular, Ideal Media, whose stated goal is to provide a way for premium sites to grow their readership without ever having to worry about using clickbait or fake news.
Ideal Media works with sites companies such as The Huffington Post, News Corp and Cox Inc. All the publishers in their network get free promotion on all their partner sites, with tailored headlines and quality placement. This creates a symbiotic web of publishers who all benefit by gaining new, interested readers.
Here are three reasons why a company like Ideal Media is worth checking out if you want to avoid this whole fake news fiasco.
1) Fake news thrives on social media
If your site is heavily reliant on social media as a way to gain traffic, you’re going to run into trouble with fake news. It’s common knowledge that Facebook in particular is the breeding ground for phony content. This has become such an issue that Facebook themselves has come out and said that they are trying to tackle the issue.
But, what if you could gain just as many new readers without needing to worry about wading into the waters of social media? That’s where Ideal Media comes in. Once you install their widget, they instantly begin promoting your content on their partner sites. Would you rather spend hours trying to craft the perfect Facebook marketing campaign, or click a button and then see your articles appear on The Huffington Post within minutes? It takes a lot of stress away and frees you up to do what you do best -- create great content.
Because the people coming to your site are interested people who found your site via a related (real!) news story, they are going to want to stick around for a while. Ideal Media readers do double the time on site and page views as those gained via facebook. It makes sense: is someone more likely to be engaged with your content after finding it while aimlessly scrolling through their news feed, or after their curiosity was peaked while they were already reading news on one of the web’s biggest properties?
Social media will continue to grow in popularity, and big sites will always have a presence on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and whatever comes next. But until those sites get a handle on the production and distribution of fake news, it will be beneficial for publishers to find ways of ensuring they have a particular subset of their readership who reliably comes to them via different channels.
2) Everyone wants viral content - but steady, consistent distribution is a better bet for long term sustainability
In a perfect world, the best content would always attract readers and then spread across the internet like wildfire. Unfortunately, pursuing viral hits can be elusive and time consuming, and unless you only write about Kardashians, or scandals, or you make up fake stories, you’re chasing a ghost.
A better strategy is to focus on writing relevant news stories, knowing that Ideal Media will get the word out for you. Advertising with Google, using social networks, and even email blasts can all be unreliable and expensive. But, if your content appears day in and day out on the internet’s best sites, you will always be getting free exposure. And because Ideal Media returns at least 20 percent more traffic than their partners send out, they help sites steadily grow.
This comes in especially handy when Google and Facebook change their algorithms, and all of a sudden everything you optimized for is no longer useful in attracting new readers. These sudden changes from the media giants have been happening with alarming frequency over the past few years.
3) The look and feel of your site will improve
As the oldest adage in economics goes, “there is no such thing as a free lunch.” Of course, in order to gain readers from Ideal Media you will have to install their widget on your site. You may be hesitant to do this, because real estate is precious.
That’s understandable, and it is with that concern in mind that Ideal Media builds a native widget that blends in perfectly with your existing design. And, most importantly, they only promote relevant, up to date news content from their premium partners. You won’t see sensationalist, made up stories on your site. Ever.
Adblock installations have skyrocketed because users despise having their reading experience degraded by gross images, misleading headlines, irrelevant marketing and bogus stories.
Ideal Media has been able to achieve tremendous growth by sidestepping all of that. Readers are happy to engage with their widget because it is providing them with new, interesting content that they might not have otherwise discovered.
Ideal Media deepens publishers relationships with their readers by building the trust, day after day, that all the content on their site is relevant and interesting.
The internet is going to continue to pump out memes, fake news, and cat videos. You can sink into the muck, or you can use a premium content exchange service to make sure you get the exposure you deserve without sacrificing your values. Ideal Media aims to be the service that helps real news outlets fight against the shallowness and fragmentation of the internet in order to let the best content shine through.