The digital landscape no longer resembles the exciting, rocket-fueled playground defined by startup media groups desperate for clicks.
One company that showed promise, an outfit called Mic that was targeted to millennial readers, is defunct, largely due to the algorithm changes from Facebook that limited the reach of so many online publishers. The company, once thought to be worth more than $90 million, was eventually sold to Bustle Media Group for $5 million.
The company’s fall had many hallmarks of the media bubbles faced by online content producers of the last decade. They were hamstrung by their dependence on Facebook. They were bamboozled by the “pivot to video.” They prioritized clicks and short-term gains over long-term investment.
However, the biggest lesson the company might teach content creators involves the nature of the content itself.
As many organizations have turned to brand journalism and self-publishing in response to the hollowing out of U.S. newsrooms and media companies, they have struggled to define success.
How should we measure the success of online storytelling?
The story of Mic is the cautionary tale of what happens when you prioritize vanity metrics like impressions and clicks and fail to evaluate your greater impact.
Mic was one of the media organizations that bet their very existence on shareability generally and specifically on Facebook. That business model would eventually steer content in specific ways.
It didn’t take long before it became clear that what resonated at Mic was left-leaning “social justice