Viral is not a strategy
This amusing anecdote is perfect for drinks parties (if that’s your thing - heck, we tell it all the time), but it’s also a lively reminder of how important it is to stay in your publishing lane. It was on-brand and a great choice for njuz.net, but for everyone else that picked it up? Well, not so much. In the rush and gratification of ‘peak click’ it might be tempting to equate virality with success and deviate from your original purpose, but, as another of our founders, Ilija Susa, says: “viral is not a strategy”. And, we’d add, luck isn’t much of one either.
‘Viral’ is the antithesis of control, and control is surely something fairly central to any strategy, so building a plan around the notion is both nonsensical and ineffective. Those stories collect impressive numbers of page views to be sure, but that number gives little indication about the audience loyalty: those readers will be off chasing the next published sensation faster than you can say “basking sharks eat plankton, not people”. So, there’s that.
As it happened, around that time Dejan had been working out a way to pay his writers fairly, in line with their contributions and with the quality of their writing. The shark tale had demonstrated that virality, though entertaining, was not a reliable indicator of success for their purposes at njuz.net, and certainly not one for quality. Surely there had to be a better way of scoring articles based on quality measures of engagement beyond clicks, likes and hits? A way to measure success that also acted as waymarkers for how those writers might replicate their success and improve their performance along the way?
Value beyond page views
It led Dejan to seek out some analytics software that would reveal the true value of an article, beyond page views, because oversimplification teaches us nothing. The creation of an article score, he reasoned, was the transparent, fair and constructive solution: a way to see at a glance if articles perform well against others in their category.
As you might have guessed, he couldn’t find a solution either, so he set about building one: Content Insights. It calculated value on multiple stories, all depending on the business model and the strategy specific to each newsroom or publisher. Which proved to complement what Rutger and Erik were doing at SmartOcto...
- page views and massive exposure alone don’t do the trick
- don’t let a viral hit knock you off course, stick to your game plan
- off the shelf tools are limited in functionality