Welcome back! I hope you enjoyed your festive break. We'll start slowly with a prediction sheet before diving into the brain busters next week. Sit back and settle in as I set out three of the biggest industry shifts changing the way we think about content in 2016. So, to answer your question...
…will content marketing change in 2016?
Of course it will. But we shouldn’t be afraid. I know, change is a divisive figure, nobody likes it and everybody can’t stop talking about it - one workers’ bogeyman is a wish granting wizard an office door down, but for better or worse, change makes us smarter, stronger and wiser. Let’s indulge in a little prediction addiction and chart how “normal” will be turned upside down in 2016.
Know Thyself… The Promoters are Coming
A lot of you have made peace with the content requirement - you need it. No ifs. Not buts. No maybes. You, your business and your customers benefit from a crafted piece of content. There’s a blog on your website now, you may even have a whitepaper in circulation but it’s not working… why isn’t it working? Unfortunately, content has never been a build it and they will come kind of deal.
Get their attention. Take a leaf out of the shameless self-promoters handbook and run a brand identity check - are you still relevant? What’s working and not working -design, messaging, delivery? Who are the disruptive brands in your industry? What are you saying and is it valuable?
Beware, if you hesistate to spend some time with your brand, theirs a special kind of professional unicorn on the loose and they will make the most of your uncertainty. Public relations professionals. They’re in-touch, they’re tapped-in but they’ve still got their eyes firmly on the prize - an audience. And they WILL almost certainly succeed. They re-energise campaigns, re-frame brands and generally put their best foot forward for a living. The public relations and publishing influencers are crashing the party, and unless you change up your rhythm and challenge the way you’ve always done things, you’ll be dancing two-step while the rest of us get down to Skrillex.
We Will Stop Planning the Crap Out of Everything
I am going to be courageous and say something controversial - traditional content strategies are almost obsolete. Sure, you may be paid big bucks to plan and implement a production schedule based on any number of things. Bosses ask for it, brands love them and companies have climbed on the bandwagon - control in an environment that defies control is tempting. I get it. I do. But…your findings have a shelf life. By the time you start writing, drafting or recording, your light-bulb moment has blinked out after reaching peak saturation.
Savvy publishers have an instinct for what works - sometimes it fails, sometimes it flies, sometimes what flew last week crashes the next. They aren’t intimidated by working day-to-day to stay ahead of trends and maybe lead a few if there's time. No more plug and play. No more packages. You can’t template inspired design, why would you try to do box in great content?
What to do… the best plan is not to plan. Read, research, keep up-to-date, sign up for a Pocket account and pay attention to your sentiment, social and content tools. Create a piece of content according to the needs and tastes of an audience and play with new distribution channels. Contently describes this process as a content methodology - produce often, experiment, distribute, optimise and evaluate. Of course, this requires your employer, your clients and yourself to trust in what you need to do to succeed. Like I said, change is a little terrifying sometimes.
Word Counts Will Sort the Wheat from the Chaff
“The smartest brands will publish less in 2016, putting more emphasis on larger editorial projects. Blog posts are just too ubiquitous at this point. It’s easy to write 600 words about the latest trending topic, but it’s better to write 2,000 words on something that will shake up your industry.”
Jordan Teicher, Senior Editor at Contently
As I’ve developed my content marketing clout, my number one frustration has been the following sentiment… short, sharp and pointed content gets it done. No exceptions. Nobody will read it, it’s just for SEO/exposure/to give us a boost/ to get an idea out there etc… despite the proof to the contrary.
Skimmers will always skim, and most of us don’t write for the skimmers of the world. They want something different out of a content piece - point form, infographics, short videos, bite and grab pieces - there are countless formats that appeal to people who admire extreme brevity to the point of sacrificing language, grammar and a bit of personality.
Stop developing content targeting only those people. If you’re not ready to let go of your short form pieces, don’t, but mix it up with some seriously incisive industry changers, in-depth how-to guides or a few extensive case studies. Yes, it requires more work, it will take longer, the research alone will clock up the hours, but at the end of the day, you’ve produced a piece of content that adds value to your readership. And that’s the point.
Need help getting a start on your content resolutions? Reach out here.