Sometimes, having too many options is not good. Content marketing can be a perfect example. How many channels and platforms offer customers an experience to engage with content? Social networks, blogs, and websites are only a few. There are streaming platforms, podcasting platforms, webinars, email — all kinds of different ways to serve content.
Then, the content itself offers plenty of options. What type of content should marketers make? What’s the ideal length of a blog post? How long should a video be? What should the content be about? It’s too easy to get lost in all these questions. And the answers you had just a year ago might not be working today. But here are four trends that might help you find your bearings in the year ahead.
Even More Personalization
The ability to deliver a personalized and engaging experience has been a major contributor to successful marketing for a while now. By the looks of it, 2018 isn’t going to be the year when personalization loses its importance. On the contrary, it might become more important, and smarter, than ever.
In the past, we’ve seen various automation tools become commonplace in marketing and sales, from systems that automate email marketing for any type of business, to highly specialized customer relationship management suites. These tools are also commonly used to gather consumer data. In 2018, the year when AI becomes a business necessity, the data gathered by these tools will be more important than ever for development of content. For example, a real estate agency can feed data gathered by a top real estate CRM into an AI that will determine how and when to distribute what type of content, and to whom.
Social Media Distribution Changes
In the social media sphere, the year started with a bang. Mark Zuckerberg wrote a post on his Facebook profile explaining how the social media behemoth is changing its ways. The new name of the game will be enabling meaningful social interaction, according to Zuckerberg. Serving people relevant content will not be a priority anymore.
While every publisher rushed to give their own view of the announced changes, it was easy to overlook that Facebook has been experimenting with the separation of user-generated content from publisher content for months. It turned out that publishers weren’t too happy with the experiment. If the changes Facebook rolls out resemble what the company has been experimenting with in countries including Bolivia, Slovakia, and Serbia, Facebook might not be the best channel to use for content distribution in 2018.
On the other hand, other social networks might finally get more attention. Twitter is in dire need of some, and Instagram, Snapchat, and even LinkedIn can serve as powerful content distribution channels. Search engine marketing might be worthy of more attention to offset the losses of traffic from Facebook. And email as a content delivery system is looking really good.
Video Becomes Even More Important
Throughout 2017, we’ve been seeing strong indicators that video is one of the hottest content marketing trends. We’ve seen live video, 360-degree video, and successful use of video-first platforms like YouTube for everything from instructional videos to storytelling.
In 2018, we’ll see more of the same. The costs of producing high-quality video are getting lower by the day. It’s possible to produce a decent video with a good smartphone. Most social media platforms have incorporated video in some way. And statistics show that people like to watch video, whether it’s for fun or to gather information before purchasing a product. Simply put, marketers who think that the content game has stopped at text plus maybe infographics will have to adapt to a new reality. A reality that includes moving pictures.
Emphasis on Meaningful, Long-Form, Quality Content
Content marketing has never been about writing the next Great American Novel. It is satisfying to create content that is useful, well-written, informational, and entertaining. But the goal of content marketing is to get results. If short, 100-words long posts are what gets results, then that’s the type of content that gets produced. However, 2018 might be the year that long-form content makes a grand re-entry to the stage, along with some other significant changes.
The length of a typical blog post has been steadily increasing over the past few years.
In 2014, it was 808 words.
In 2018, it was 1142 words.
In the same time period, the number of bloggers who write content shorter than 500 words has halved,
while the number of bloggers who write content longer than 2000 words had a sixfold increase.
And these are only some of the statistics that point towards long-form content gaining importance.
The same statistics show that the frequency of posting is slowing down. The times of hyperproduction of content is behind us, as are the times of posting content just because. In 2018, content will need to be much more deliberately planned, put together, and published. Brands will need a reason to post content, and they’ll also need a way to make the content relevant locally.
If you would say that 2018 will be the year of change in content marketing, you would be correct. But then again, which year hasn’t been the year of change? Still, we’ll be seeing some really big movements in the field this year. Movements that will create more change than we’ve seen in the last couple of years. If you’re a content marketer, you should get ready. It’s bound to be an interesting ride.