14 Content Marketing Predictions for 2017
At the start of the year, I asked my esteemed colleagues what they predicted would happen in 2016 within the world of content marketing. Many of these predictions turned out to be fairly accurate (go team!), with Google’s search algorithm continuing to get smarter, the rise of video, and the growth of 10x content to combat internet crowding and high competition.
With the end of the year fast approaching, we decided to ask around the office once again to gain insights into what 2017 may hold – you can never plan too early! Below are 14 content marketing predictions from our team, including content strategists, writers, business development managers and heads of department.
Content strategies essential to beat the competition
I’ve been saying this for awhile, but the launch of GoPro’s “Karma” has rekindled a mantra of mine: the barrier to entry for high-quality content is dropping.
If we look at video, professional level equipment is becoming both cheaper and more user-friendly. Look at GoPro’s new drone (starting at just $800), let alone the full Karma package including drone, new Hero5, and stabilizer (which goes for $1649.95), or DJI’s phantom 3 (now $999.00). Working these professional level tools is childs play, yet the resulting quality suggests a lifetime of videography experience.
While video capture is one easy area to highlight, the entire content landscape is seeing these barriers fall. Look at tools like Grammarly for editorial, Canva or Fiverr for graphics, or YouTube Director for Business for editing. All of these tools make high-quality content more and more accessible to businesses.
So my prediction is that the content marketing space becomes saturated far beyond what we have seen to date next year. What will be important, then? Strategy. It’s becoming easier and easier to produce great content, so the direction a content marketing plan takes and the analytics used to point that compass needle will be a key asset for businesses in 2017.
Rich video to change the way information is delivered
I predict that rich video will become the norm. Think Facebook Live and virtual reality. What will start with voyeurism and entertainment, such as experiencing a fire-fight from a soldier’s point of view, or plugging into a musician’s ‘feed’ at their concert, will change the way we learn and share info. Experience a CEO addressing the board, or learn conflict management through virtual role playing – it’ll all be out there. Content marketers will need to be fast and agile in helping their clients get their best information out to the masses.
Client collaboration on content production
Collaboration and customer service are going to become key priorities in 2017, particularly with clients that want to see a higher degree of specialisation and more depth in their content. We’re seeing this more and more at Castleford – contacts are willing – excited, even – to take on a larger role with certain features. Clients have the expert-level knowledge, while the writer / designer / producer has the skills and tools to communicate that knowledge in a way that grabs the users’ and search engines’ attention. With that in mind, content marketers will need to hone their client management skills to ensure a successful collaborative relationship that produces engaging and informative content.
Short form video will continue to boom
The way everything is going, we’re definitely looking at 2017 being the year of short-form video. Vine, Snap Inc. (RIP Snapchat!), Instagram, Facebook – they are all becoming hot battlegrounds for attention, which is pretty exciting for content marketers! 10X content is king for our editorial strategies, but when social media users just want a fun little video to silently watch while nipping to the bathroom, we’re going to need to be producing some awesome, shareable, 30-60-second videos. Probably about cats, because cats are always trendy.
This will be interesting for content marketing agencies like Castleford working with some traditionally non-social industries. Can you engage traffic with methods stereotypically reserved for Millennials, but with a target audience made out of older generations? It’s going to be a fun year of experimenting, researching and trying new things. Watch everybody’s animation and video departments boom.
Voice-driven search to surge
With Cortana, Siri, Google Now and Amazon Echo all established in the voice command realm, the next step will be for them to make themselves useful in our day to day lives. Expect voice searches to become much more useful and conversational – especially in your car and at home.
Streaming as a gateway to influencer marketing
I think 2017 will be the year of streaming. With the success of streaming platforms such as Netflix, YouTube Red, and Twitch, we’ll see many companies and individuals trying to use streaming as a way to connect with their audiences. The roll-out of Facebook’s new live stream feature will be a big player in the game as it’s very simple to use and is a place where companies already have established audiences.
There is a double-effect here as the more people that use and become aware of streaming services, the more we will see brands use them for influencer marketing. Here’s a great example where a professional poker player who streams his play on Twitch, streamed a session playing virtual reality poker – the first of its kind!
Make 10X content your bread and butter
As consumers are increasingly cynical of outbound marketing efforts, and social media networks are making it more and more difficult to organically promote content, the only options are either making better, more engaging content, or paying directly for page views. If a company goes down the paid route, they definitely need great content on their page in order to achieve their goals, whether that’s leads, sales, or just better brand loyalty. If they go down the organic route, any content they put out there has to be pretty good in order to cut through all the algorithms put in place to encourage companies to pay for social interaction. For competitive search terms, this may also be the case as websites either need to pay to be at the top of a stack of ads, or have something very good in order to rank well.
Either way you look at it, as Rand Fishkin points out, “good, unique content needs to die”. It’s now about exceptional, useful, and engaging content. This also means varied content is important, whether that be editorial, graphics, video, or a combination of all of this.
Using data to personalise your content
My prediction for 2017 is that content will become much more personalised. Content marketers can leverage valuable information about their users, such as geographic location, demographic, or page views, to created highly targeted content for their audience. By next year, I think that there will be less emphasis on increasing traffic to the site (although, that will always be important) and more concentration on existing traffic and personalising content to meet their interests.
Building consumer relationships with behind the scenes footage
I really believe video is going to take off – and in particular, the simpler type of videos that anyone can produce. This will involve authentic, behind-the-scenes clips from companies to show what’s going on in their business in order to communicate stories and show a more human side of their brand.
You only need to look at the success of Snap Inc. to understand the trend – it’s not successful because it’s a top-end video, it’s successful because it’s real. People will connect better with the raw and real parts of a brand’s image.
Increase in B2B influencer marketing
I expect to see an acceleration in B2B influencer marketing. Currently, B2B is lagging behind the B2C market but as they see the success in other markets and the close link to word of mouth marketing (which all businesses value) then this gap will close. With all of the content options out there, the value of putting a recognisable face alongside your product or service is still incredibly high. The key to success for businesses will be to clearly identify the audience they want to reach, selecting the right influencers and creating / maintaining strong relationships.
Pinterest to grow in popularity
I believe that 2017 will be the year of Pinterest. For one, there has been lots of chatter that they are gearing up to go public. There’s certainly some validity to that claim, as in the last month alone they have acquired Instapaper and have hired a new Head of Engineering who specialises in AI and image search for their new Seattle location. Another notable addition in the last 18 months was the introduction of Buyable Pins. This had a sizable impact on the Christmas shopping season of 2015, with the implications for 2016’s holiday season yet to be seen.
More and more brands are realising that Pinterest is no longer just about sharing cute home decor ideas or recipes. Now you’ll find every company from high-end home theatre speaker system makers to DIY alternative energy companies sharing pins, creating boards and interacting with their target audiences. I expect to see even more companies joining and using Pinterest for sales, marketing and overall brand awareness.
Virtual reality on the rise
I believe that with the rapid innovation and increased accessibility of virtual reality technology and ‘live’ content, companies have a great opportunity to get on board the virtual roller-coaster and find exciting ways to engage with their customers.
Whether it’s as simple as a real estate agent giving a virtual tour of a property, a marketing agency live streaming from a national marketing conference or something as abstract as a fashion label creating a full action-adventure style piece of branded virtual content, companies can really set themselves apart from their competitors by adopting new technology as much as possible into their digital strategies.
Most companies always focus on creating a great experience for their customers in person but now they can create great experiences for their customers from anywhere in the world.
Episodic video in B2B businesses
I believe 2017 is going to be the year of video (I know, I know, so many have said it before…but now it’s really happening!). More specifically I think we’re going to see more live streaming, episodic video marketing, VR and 360 videos. The movie industry is already capitalizing on the latter two between the Blair Witch Project’s 360 degree experience and Netflix’s Stranger things disturbing VR, but I think we’ll start seeing more B2B businesses leveraging video marketing using things like live streaming and episodic video marketing.
Out with the old, in with the new: content marketing with a human touch
I believe that content marketing will shake off the shackles that can come with being a relatively new medium, and really take the world by the proverbial storm. Marketing as a whole can sometimes be unfairly tagged as a faceless, corporate entity with zero empathy, connecting with people with the sole intention of making as much money as possible. Of course, marketing is all about generating revenue, but this doesn’t mean it needs to be cold and heartless as it does so.
Not that it always is – of course not! If the customer felt that they were being hoodwinked, they’d run 500 miles (and perhaps 500 more), so it’s of paramount importance that this situation doesn’t arise.
With this in mind, content marketing can really impress the world with a laid back, informal approach that isn’t afraid to break the rules, without losing authority or sense of professionalism. If content marketing is brave enough to break the binds that come with conforming to tired, old formulas, it has the power to create a new mold, all its own.