You’re right, and 2017 is shaping up to be a big year for content marketing, but as fast as technology develops, it still takes a few years for trends to really take form. Google Glass seemed like a big deal at the time—until it wasn’t, and smart watches never grew to become the market dominators they were once forecasted to be.
At the same time, I remember seeing the flurry of posts calling for the death of SEO at the arrival of the Panda and Penguin updates, which played a major role in shaping SEO (but never came close to killing it).
So rather than taking a stab at the immediate repercussions and developments that may tweak your content marketing strategy this year, I want to look further into the future, where these trends and technologies will have had more time to manifest, so you can prepare for the bigger disruptions to come:
Augmented reality interactions
Augmented reality had a big year in 2016, with Oculus Rift, Pokemon Go, and the announcement of Snapchat Spectacles (among other tech developments). But it’s still not popular or widespread enough for it to be categorized as a viable medium for conte
nt marketing. But now, all doubts about the technology’s future have been squashed, and brands will be racing to be among the first to leverage this new medium for their own purposes, whether that’s interactive advertising or new experiences for in-person customers.
A reshaping of SEO.
Unless you’ve been centering your business on an Amazon store or a similar eCommerce platform, most of your SEO efforts revolve around your website. This seems both intuitive and obvious; search engine results pages (SERPs) are basically giant lists of web pages, so the more visibility you get there, the better. However, we’re starting to see different kinds of entries in SERPs, and less exposure for websites in general. Knowledge Graph entries and rich answers are replacing traditional site entries, apps (including streaming app content) are rising in relevance, and of course, our digital assistants are parroting answers to us, eliminating the need to review an SERP. As these trends develop, users will still rely on search, but they’ll use it in entirely new ways—and the importance of website-specific optimization will begin to decline in favor of things like app SEO and optimization for rich answers.
Live video dominance.
Live video’s popularity isn’t exactly a secret, but there’s one thing holding it back from being a dominant form of content on the web: participation. Live videos, when available, attract a lot of user attention, but not enough brands have jumped on the trend. Part of this is due to the amount of planning necessary for a “successful” feed, and mobile data plans and Wi-Fi reliability may also enter into the equation. But by 2020, my guess is live video will stabilize as an available means of communication, and we’ll see it in higher demand and in more places—including search results.
A native advertising surge.
People hate advertisements. They’re tired of being bombarded with ad messages, they don’t like the idea of being persuaded, and they resent the big businesses that are trying to take their money. That’s why native advertising, which I view as a hybrid of traditional advertising and content marketing, is likely to constitute the majority of ad revenue online by 2020. Even traditional forms of advertising will work harder to “blend in” with the type of content that users expect to see in a given medium.
Content length extremes.
Currently, there’s a wide range of different-length content that can become popular. Short, medium, and long posts all have advantages and disadvantages, with long posts attracting more links, and short posts spreading faster and requiring less investment. By 2020, I imagine we’ll see more polarization toward content extremes; people who want deep, long content will want the deepest, longest content they can find, while anyone who wants a fast read will only consume content in bite-sized chunks. This will force most content marketers to rethink their direction, optimizing for one style over the other.
Higher social value.
We’ll also see a spike in the social value associated with the content we produce and share. Authorship is currently important, and influencer marketing yields fantastic results, but as corporate distrust grows and internet accessibility widens, it’s going to be even more important to know—personally—who you’re getting your content from. Individual personalities are going to make or break brands, and the value of a post can increase exponentially based on who writes or shares it.
Personal device interactions.
Voice search has exploded in popularity over the past five years or so, mostly because algorithms became good enough to actually understand what we’re saying. But we’re now starting to interact with our devices in new and uncharted ways; we’re having real, back-and-forth conversations with them, eliminating the need for screen-based or type-based interactions. By 2020, I believe this will give rise to new types of content that aren’t screen-based; podcasts are an interesting start, but in the future, more conversational, interactive forms of content will be in demand.
Though some of these predictions are speculative, the majority of them are end-game visions of trends that have already begun. If you have a good rhythm, it’s a good idea to maintain it; there’s no use scrapping your strategy and rebuilding from scratch for concepts that are only now coming into fruition.
Still, it pays to think ahead; the most successful content marketers tend to be the ones who beat their competitors to market, so there’s definitely a value in early adoption.