Creative, compelling content is more important than ever to marketers, and trends in content marketing bear that out. A market once dominated by volume has shifted into one that prioritizes knowledge and relevance with more long-form and in-depth content. Neither is content restricted to a handful of channels; it’s inter-connected, leading the people interacting with it from video to blogs to email in a seamless flow of content.
Aggregate and crowd-sourced content has already shaped some industries, as Yelp and UrbanSpoon have proven. Expect that trend to continue with review sites, aggregated content, and social media channels giving users the power to create and organize content. Sites such as Reddit and Pinterest that put users in control of content and let them choose the topics and forms they prefer are increasingly popular, representing a continuing shift away from top-down marketing. Marketers who want to take advantage of this user-driven trend need to focus on producing content with enough value to be worth reading, viewing, and sharing on its own merits.
Rise of the Robots
Automation isn’t just for building cars and computer components anymore. Some systems are intelligent enough to put together readable text. While these tools aren’t going to pass a Turing test on their own anytime soon, they can fill sites with brief SEO content. Currently, the software that lets computers do the work of freelance writers isn’t sophisticated enough to do much more than generate a couple of paragraphs on a few narrow topics that reuse words frequently, such as sports and weather forecasts, but expect that to change. As more companies look for inexpensive automated solutions for content, marketers who still invest in human writers will differentiate themselves not only in the substance of their content but also its unique voice. Now is the time to find talented content creators and set your company apart from the approaching robot horde.
While long-form content is a winner for content marketers, there’s a counter-trend toward concise capsule content meant for mobile readers. Users no longer even need to type in a search query to get answers; they just talk into their phones and get information. To get their content delivered to mobile users, marketers must make it compact yet informative. That’s where omni-channel content will become increasingly important as it allows readers to encounter content in short form via Twitter or YouTube, then move to longer formats on company websites and blogs.
Expanded Social Media Publishing
Social media has typically acted as the gateway to content rather than the source of content itself, but that’s changing as social media platforms are giving users more publishing options. Facebook, for example, now has Instant Articles, a way for content creators to publish straight to Facebook instead of linking to articles elsewhere. This system ensures that authors get all the traffic their content merits and lets readers see full articles without having to click through to find the information they want.
The Power of the Written Word
For years, prognosticators have talked about the increasing importance of video, but smart marketers know there’s a resurgence of the written word. Audiences are becoming increasingly impatient with content that demands a set amount of time to interact with it, instead opting for written content that lets them move through it at their own pace. The average speaker talks at a rate of 150 words a minute, and the average reader gets through about 300 words a minute. Marketers who supply content to both readers and viewers so they can choose the format they prefer earn far more attention from their audiences.