Originally at https://searchenginewatch.com/2016/06/17/should-publishers-and-content-marketers-be-playing-the-platform-game/

The early 2000s saw the advent of platforms on the web: somewhere that bloggers and publishers could host their content without having to worry about the back end, while still maintaining control over their own outlets and what they posted.

More than a decade later, and many of the social media platforms of today are starting to suspiciously resemble blogging platforms, becoming a place for users to publish content instead of just share links and brief updates. At the same time, huge companies like Facebook and Google have developed native publishing platforms aimed at providing a superior user experience for an increasingly mobile audience.

We have a wider choice of platforms to publish to than ever before, and each is promising the fastest, shiniest interfaces that will put our content directly in front of huge audiences we can’t reach through other means.

But how can we manage to spread ourselves between so many different outlets, and what are the drawbacks of these platforms? Veteran digital journalist and university lecturer Adam Tinworth gave a presentation at CMA’s most recent Digital Breakfast on ‘playing the platform game’ which looked at what this plethora of new tools – and gatekeepers – means for online content.

Social publishers and walled gardens

In 2015, we reached a watershed moment: in June, Facebook surpassed Google as the top referring site to publishers, according to Parse.ly. Clearly, we are now living in a very different internet age, in which social publishers dominate over search engines as a means of distribution and referral.

Tinworth remarked in a panel discussion later in the Digital Breakfast that social networks have taken over from search engines in the role of “finding something to read” online, leaving search engines to fill more of an “answer engine” role. This has huge ramifications for both SEO and social publishing, some of which are already being felt, and others which wi…

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