The content marketing universe is crowded. We know that. We were told that last year, and the year before. We’ve adapted. Brands have to be creative, innovative and unique to stand out.
So what’s going to be different for content writers and strategists who are looking to rule the realm this year?
The writers and strategists here at B3 have conferred and offered some answers, and we’ve peeked at what the folks over at the CMI have said. Consider this your content marketing 2017 prediction cheat sheet.
- Personalisation: Hello, I’m talking to you
Personalised content is going to come into its own. We started to dabble in 2016, and now it’s time to learn from our mistakes.
Brands need to approach their readers in the pub, buy them a drink and ask them about their weekend – but without exhaling beer-breath into their faces. Connect with readers while still maintaining a friendly distance.
This means using data to create content aimed at specific users without overstepping boundaries. It has to tap into their interests and worries and offer solutions, but only if it’s useful and relevant. Personalisation can provide a competitive edge, but it can also kill a relationship if you betray a reader’s trust.
Read our post about personalisation to learn which brands handled it well in 2016, and find out how you can get personal without being weird.
- Let’s get specific about distribution
We aim not to ramble, meander or generalise in our content. We know it’s important to speak to your audience and offer clear insights and expertise.
This year, it’s all about understanding the best channels for the best content – will you publish lighter content on a blog and have a more serious ‘guide’ or ‘advice’ section for more specific information? Is it better to post a video on social media or send an email?
Being specific and precise about where and when you disperse your content will help you find your audience amid the storm of content due to hit in 2017.
- IT is the key
We’re past “have you tried turning it off and on again?” I’m talking about the tech your grandmother thinks is basically magic. Back to the Future is now, and brands are determined to make the most of it with content that stretches beyond the written word to meet expectations of 2017’s tech-literate audience.
Brands are already jumping on the opportunity to use virtual reality (VR) in creative ways, like the way Expedia took its audience far, far away. We’ve been banging on about the value of video content for a while, and now VR has added 360 video. It’s now time to seriously start brainstorming brilliant VR ideas: you’d be wise to get a pair of giant goggles and put your thinking cap on (though you might look odd if you wear both at the same time).
- A new frontier, a new language: The internet speaks up
The Internet of Things has been humming in the background, getting louder with each new product launch. But with the rise of Alexa, Amazon’s leading lady, the new world we’ve been promised is starting to make serious noise. As If-This-Then-That (IFTT) products expand their platforms to allow for increased cross-collaboration via the Internet of Things, it’ll become easier to allow your life to connect all around you.
So what does this have to do with content marketers?
We have a whole new language to optimise for now. Finding content opportunities within the Internet of Things is unchartered territory that’s begging to be claimed. And that’s not all. As Mike Jeffs showed us, it’s not just Alexa people are talking to. Voice search is the new Mobilegeddon, and 2017 is when we’ve got to figure out how to make sure our content answers the call.
We pretty much know how to optimise for the screen, but users don’t speak the same way they type, and they don’t listen the same way they read. 2017 is the time to figure out how to cater long-tail search terms to suit voice search, and find ways to present users with useful, engaging content that they can access using IoT devices.
- Help, the robots are coming!
The conspiracy theorists out there have dark predictions for 2017… Predictions so dire, that if they’re correct, people like me could be out of a job.
Automated content machines exist, and their work is pretty convincing. So convincing, one study found some people couldn’t tell the difference between articles written by humans and robots.
But, it also revealed people still respond better to stuff fashioned by living, breathing humans who can create readable and interesting content in a way that cold, unfeeling robot minds haven’t quite mastered. Yet.
Depending on who you ask, the robots pose different levels of threat. However, we can pretty much agree that artificial intelligence is here to stay (right, Alexa?). With icy robot breath on our necks, we have to make the most of our organic skills and find ways to appeal to the humanity we share with our flesh-and-blood audience.
But completely pushing back against modern advancements will only put us behind. We need to continue to create unique and relevant content, and find new ways to use AI technology to make it even better. 2017 is the time when we better figure out how to work with the robots – or start sharpening our pickaxes.
These are a just a few of the things we think you might have to reckon with in 2017. Now go and create an incredibly engaging 360 VR video that Alexa can send to your user’s phone when they’re just about to be seduced into reading something that’s been concocted by an AI robot.
What are your content marketing predictions for 2017? Fill us in @Branded_3.