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Twitter and the Future of Distributed Media Publishing

While the rest of the industry will be talking about the NewFronts and Twitter’s earnings, we wanted to take a moment to step back and look at the trend of distributed publishing that’s changing the relationship between social networks and media companies.

With their introduction of a new analytics.twitter.com they slid in one quiet metric of profile visits that to us signals Twitter’s long-term ambitions to become more of a media hub for users no matter if they’re logged in or not. Now I’m not saying that this one metric is the end all be all, but surfacing the number of times people visit your profile, combined with the rest of their Twitter analytics can start to build a more complete profile that can help justify new publishing strategies.

While media companies should always be looking to grow their own audience the industry should get comfortable with publishing content natively on channels that aren’t always their own.

The ability to monetize content doesn’t live on one channel, but many, building a voice and brand that extends across the appropriate channels that the audience demands.

It’s not about driving people off of Twitter to get to your .com, it can be about getting them to consume your content, from your brand, on your social profiles.

In the new distributed publisher model, the brand is at the center, a departure from what we all know and love as media companies. That’s not to say your owned pages or sites aren’t extremely important, they’re just a component of your entire content ecosystem. The people from these social platforms who want to become more invested in your closer network will come to your site, app, and then you can convert them into a subscriber.

So then Twitter becomes another part of the ecosystem. Instead of trying to fight the deluge of content to take them away from Twitter, you can take advantage of the scale by publishing natively using the tools they provide and monetizing them:

  • Posts and Direct Messages allow for dialogue and for drawing audiences back to owned sites
  • Photos and Videos allow brands to share rich content, for media brands Amplify provides a way to monetize people watching premium publisher content.
  • Vines enable short-form storytelling for different creative outlets
  • Premium Content from partners like Niche enable star-powered content and built in audiences.
  • Livestreaming from Periscope, while early, could play an important part in the future of monetizing media companies, brands and a new breed of media creators.
  • eCommerce – Twitter made another acquisition of TellApart presumably to boost their Buy button and ad products team. Combined with their recent announcements of Twitter ads off of Twitter, there could be untapped potential here to drive lightweight commerce of content similar to the ways that companies like Gumroad or Are.io are doing.

As Alan Wolk said in his piece on Digiday:

“[Tools] can provide a complete 360 experience, including the talent to create and bring messages to life. That’s something television networks can’t do, and it gives Twitter a very powerful advantage in the coming war for eyeballs.”

Earlier this year CEO Jonah Peretti made headlines with his presentation at SXSW talking about their decision to invest more heavily in native social programming.

As he explained in his presentation, BuzzFeed says that in January, it received 420 million views via referrals from Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook and 18 billion impressions on those platforms. Credit to re/code for the nice gif below that demonstrates the above.


As people are more used to having multiple devices in front of them at all times, how and where they consume content is changing too. Why make it harder for people to go to another place to watch a video or see your photos when they really want to get in find what they want and get out.

It’s working, more and more brands are begging to work with Buzzfeed’s expanding portfolio of platforms to reach audiences on while they have the ability and the data to inform what to invest their resources in and what to throw in the can.

So while Twitter continues to slowly grow (they surpassed 300 million users as reported in their earnings report but disappointed investors) do more media companies take this route? The real value is in the audience and eyeballs, so if Twitter doesn’t continue to provide enough value for their users.


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