Content marketing would be much easier if it somehow existed in a vacuum; a strategy that works well today could be assured to work five years from now, and if you keep tweaking and refining for long enough, you’d eventually stumble upon the “perfect” strategy. For better or worse, content marketing doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It is constantly shaped and forced to evolve with new technologies, new platforms, and morphing the consumer demands.
The only way to remain effective as a content marketer is to proactively anticipate these changes, and adjust your strategy to accommodate them. The next five years should prove to be interesting, challenging, and exciting for content marketers everywhere, and at the center of that transition will be these seven major changes:
- Content-generating algorithms. Content writing algorithms are already in regular use—in fact, by some estimates, if you read content on the web regularly, it’s inevitable that you’ve already read at least one article written by a machine. Does that mean that as a content marketer, your job is about to become obsolete? Not necessarily. Inevitably, these algorithms will grow more complex, eventually to the point where they’re indistinguishable from human writers, but that just means your role as a content marketer will have to change. Think of these algorithms as new tools to improve the efficiency of your work, rather than surrogates to replace you entirely. This may also lead to a push for new mediums and new forms of content, which won’t be capable of algorithmic generation.
- Greater demand for video. Demand for video is already at an all-time high, and that demand is only going to keep increasing. As Internet speeds and accessibility rise, so does the ease and convenience of watching videos over reading written content. Platforms like Twitter and Facebook are already integrating more video-friendly features like auto-playing videos in newsfeeds, and video exclusive platforms like Periscope and Meerkat are exploding in terms of popularity. Expect demand for video content to continue outpacing demand for written content, and start sharpening up your video editing skills accordingly.
- Virtual reality integration. The next year looks to offer the next big breakthrough in virtual reality technology. Oculus Rift, one of the most anticipated VR technologies, is set to release along with dozens of other competitors sponsored by social media brands, computer tech companies, and video game publishers. Oculus Rift itself is owned by Facebook, so it’s almost certain that, together, they have something big in the works. Should the technology garner any reasonable level of reception, it’s almost certain that VR-powered social media posts and content will quickly become the new norm. How that will manifest for content marketers remains to be seen, but expect it to make waves.
- New publishing expectations. For the past several years, the standard approach to content publishing involved posting a new article (or alternative medium) on a central blog or website. At that point, it could be shared socially and syndicated using other means. Over the course of the next five years, you’ll need to anticipate new kinds of publishing, some of which might seem foreign to you. As a current example, Facebook currently offers an opportunity called Instant Articles for select publishers—this allows publishers to post material directly on the social platform without ever posting it to a site. As user preferences grow to favor apps over websites, expect more app-based publishing opportunities to develop as well.
- Higher quality standards. Currently, the gap between “great” content and “average” content is enormous. Thanks to a huge surplus of content (brought on by the popularity of content marketing), users have millions of pieces of content at their fingertips, and only a finite amount of time to spend reading and consuming it. That means it’s harder than ever to get noticed, and to differentiate yourself, you truly have to write something amazing. In the next five years, this gap will only widen as more and more content is produced and user expectations continue to grow.
- More interactive elements. Today’s average web user is understandably selfish; they’re used to search results that are custom-picked based on their previous searches, social newsfeeds that are customized based on past behaviors and requests, and other forms of personalized experiences that cater to an individual. Within the next five years, new mediums and technologies will make it easier for content marketers to produce and publish content that somehow adapts itself to the individual reading it, and users will no longer tolerate “mass-produced” content.
- Significant user curation. Some brands make it a point to curate content from their users via video contests or requests for testimonials. But the future will offer more significant forms of user curated content. For example, consider the new Twitter feature Moments, which aggregates posts, images, and videos from various users about a certain event or occasion. There’s no shortage of user-produced content on the web (especially on social media platforms), so don’t be surprised if you see more features like this come to fruition—it would be a real threat to content marketing as we know it, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be harnessed for your own benefit.
Keep watch for these seven significant content changes as we move into 2020. If you want to stay relevant and effective as a content marketer, it’s your job to incorporate these new expectations and mediums into your strategy as seamlessly and as quickly as possible. As always, content marketing will remain a game of experimentation; you’ll have to be bold and try new things if you want a chance at finding out what works. Still, knowing the changes around the corner will give you an edge over your competition, and inevitably, more eyes and traffic for your material.