Not quite a full blown rant, you know!

Well, the past two weeks have been absolutely fantastic!  I took a little vacation to the Grand Canyon (my first time) and then we had our company retreat in Kona, Hawaii.

I’ve had some time to think and brainstorm and research new ideas and codify my thoughts, and I thought I’d share (though this will probably turn into oversharing lol…)

I’m more than slightly out of sorts with Google and Facebook at the moment.  And here’s why –

There are two new walled gardens of content –

  1. Facebook Instant Articles
  2. Apple News

There’s a third one, LinkedIn Pulse, but that’s old news, I’m just mentioning it because it was their idea first, and I don’t want to leave anyone out, especially if they came up with this scheme first.

Then Google has a new delivery method – AMP – Accelerated Mobile Pages – which is not a walled garden concept but it does reward authors with extra SEO love, and you know that there are a ton of people that would sell their firstborn to get some of that.

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If you don’t publish any kind of relevant content on a regular basis for your marketing, then you can stop reading right now and go back to whatever you were doing.

If you’re already blogging your little heart out or sitting around making webinar outlines and SlideShares and trying to figure out how Google Hangouts is actually supposed to work, keep on reading.  This is for you.

So what the heck are they?

  1. LinkedIn Pulse is LinkedIn’s own little content well, where you can publish your own posts and they’ll circulate them to other LinkedIn folks – who might click through to your profile, your website, or some other link you’ve included if you write something that encourages them to do that and they feel like it.  Otherwise they just keep on reading other people’s Pulse posts in a linear fashion.
  2. Apple News.  Ah yes, just like the rest of the modern amenities, Apple hits the nail on the head.  Again.  They’re selectively allowing small publishers into their News program, and they choose when and what to feature (albeit with some input from you, dear publisher), and you can get some nice exposure.I also think you can get a decent bit of qualified traffic if you craft your articles properly, but that’s nearly the same no matter what.  If you’re running your site off a CMS, you can hook it up and after you manually submit your first article, they allow you to automatically submit going forward.This takes about 7 minutes to set up.  No, really, I couldn’t find the original .AI files for our logo and had to crack open Illustrator, find the fonts and remake our logo in order to complete the submission – that took longer than the rest of it combined.  And they only allow text mark logos, so I didn’t even have to deal with that little green world ball thing in our Domino Research graphics (additional points for Apple!).
  3. Facebook Instant Articles is the spawn of Satan most likely.  We’ve yet to see any stats (Insights) because they won’t load in the admin and support hasn’t answered our Feedback.It’s only taken weeks to get this approved because the plugin that has been created by Facebook and Automattic and like 8 other authors (I’m gauging this from the credits in WordPress.org) is likely the WORST plugin ever made.  It makes Hello, Dolly look good.  If you’re a CMS oriented person, you know exactly what I’m talking about.  If not, then do yourself a favor, pay someone to build your website and let them deal with Dolly.I finally had to send multiple scathing Feedback reports to Facebook to get approval, but how they could not know that their stupid plugin didn’t work properly and was causing their review staff no end of problems, issues, double and triple work load, it boggles the mind.

    Of course this will probably be the one with the BEST, MOST, RELEVANT TRAFFIC WILLING TO BUY THINGS, because it’s almost alway that way with Facebook these days.  Accept it and move on.  Unless you’re hawking online courses in the art of making sea glass jewelry items, in which case Pinterest is your bread and butter, you just can’t make it without FB traffic.

  4. Google Accelerated Mobile Pages – AMP for short.  Argh, what seemed on the surface to be the easiest, most simple thing in the world – install a little plugin, and maybe another if you want to customize the look of your output – has turned into a raging cacophony of email error notices, Search Console reminders to fix the errors, and in some cases, NO WAY TO CURE THE DAMN PROBLEMS, since it seems that Google is hating on itself more than anything.  Our biggest problem is with errors using the Google Analytics code.

I mean, seriously?  Google AMP, Google Analytics, one would truly think that this would be somewhat more easily managed.  But NO, NO, NO, NO…  errors, errors, more errors, and threats and warnings along with the errors.  

Just stop it already.  There’s no way to un-AMP at webmaster tools, unless you want to 404 all those AMP pages, you just know it would be that way.

While I do realize that anyone in the online world will do almost anything for free traffic, and in the light of that situation, companies with free traffic in quantity will make publishers do all manner of crazy things to get that traffic, this is insanity at its best.

Which brings me back to the reason, as yet unstated, about why these things are of any concern to anyone with a blog, a business that markets online, any sort of content marketing plan or social media marketing component to putting bread on their table.

If Facebook, Apple and LinkedIn can convince users to stay in their apps – never leaving their world, then they’ll have that traffic to pass around in perpetuity.  I can’t tell you how many older people never leave the comfort of their Facebook cocoon to venture out into the real internet already.  If Google makes it easy for mobile users to see certain content because of how its formatted, that is huge as well.

Mostly for mobile, yes.  We’ve reached a point where actually reading something on mobile is nearly impossible.  Too many popups, ads that cover the whole screen and can’t be shut off, data plan bleeding animated or video content that burns through allowed megabits and bytes in parts of the world where there is no unlimited, or giant sized, illusion of unlimited offers.

Mobile is also taking over the world of connected devices.  More people use a mobile device than a desktop device to access online content today.  And yesterday.  And for like the last 18 months or so.

Companies like Facebook, Apple, LinkedIn and Google, well they can’t have a bad user experience on mobile.  It doesn’t make them look good, people get annoyed, they change loyalties, they change brands, and they vote with their eyeballs.  Or else they simply stop consuming content outside of their comfort zone, such as Facebook or Twitter or Pinterest on mobile.

And that is too many dollars on the table to leave behind.   But it is still a two way street.  If they make it too hard for publishers to give them the free content that helps them generate these massive traffic aggregations, then publishers will go to the ones that work for them, just like running water finds the path of least resistance.