Most of us are guilty of wondering about future. We have come a long way from speculating about a Jetsons-inspired epoch to disenchantment with present-day technology as it interferes with our mental health and happiness.
When it comes to the future of content marketing, we have come a long way too. We have seen constant evolution in the field of content right from planning, creation, delivery, through to broadcasting. For instance, mass mails have been replaced by bite-sized messages delivered in 140 characters or less.
However, not all is roses and sunshine with content. The threat of content saturation is real, and marketers are desperately trying to find new content creation and distribution strategies that are less intrusive and more impactful. In this article, we will go down a few safe pathways that can help you survive the ever-changing content space.
Steer Clear of Pigeonholes
Present-day B2B and B2C content strategies often overlap as you can see manufacturing firms using light, non-traditional content formats such as video clips on social media as well as FMCG firms churning out serious content like case studies. The new-age mantra for content is “F*** the rules!” as content strategists are looking at disruptive ideas and breaking age-old practices and processes. We are already seeing breakthrough ideas such as cross-platform content upcycling and guerrilla video marketing.
How is this futuristic?
When you try new ideas, you create a shock value, which helps your audience retain content in their memory for a longer time. This is a futuristic strategy because nothing less than shock will get your audience to lower their apathy towards the constant content barrage that they’re weighed under.
Also, content packaged in new ways is a break from monotony. For instance, the first picture of a cake will tempt you, the second will make you crave for it, the third would make you do something rash (like ordering it), but by the time you reach the hundredth picture of cake, you would be indifferent towards the lure of cake. Breakthrough or disruptive content is something that will get your interest again after the hundredth picture.
Remember, the best ideas are those that are so crazy they might just work! Come 2017, step out of whatever boundaries you have built around your content strategies. Be curious and nurture curiosity among content creators. When publishing content, publish only out-of-the-box, refreshing, and honest content, or else don’t publish at all. We have enough bad content as it is.
Deliver Highly-Targeted Content
Another key area where you can improve content reach is targeting. A highly targeted marketing campaign allows you to connect with customers at crucial points without inundating them with messages and irritating them in the process. Good content needs to be personalized with timing, context and relevance.
This is where marketing automation comes in. Veteran email marketing suite and landing page solution GetResponse now has a full-fledged workflow-based marketing automation platform, which allows businesses to realize the benefits of content targeting at each touchpoint along the customer’s journey, through traffic scoring, filtering tagging, and segmentation based on profile data and behavior. This helps you deliver tailored content and keeps your audience from feeling overwhelmed.
But how is micro futuristic, aren’t we micro targeting our audience with personas, segments and cohorts already?
Yes, and no. Many brands have embraced marketing automation tools that allow them to deliver content that targets customers at each stage of the sales funnel, but the vast majority of these are Fortune 500 companies or enterprises that have big bucks. Not many small and medium businesses have adopted marketing tools and technology yet.
Only when every content marketer has access to data, targeting capabilities and behavioral analytics, can we hope for a respite from information overload. Until then, they will continue to spray content blindly over the internet.
Go from Ghost Writing to Bot Writing
The most common advice you hear from content veterans is you need to create “unique” content for each channel or platform. However, that’s easier said than done, what with the increasing number of channels and the crazy amount of content your competitors churn out. Content repurposing is also fraught with many limitations.
At present, content marketers are trying to solve the problem by automating certain content processes such as content audits and analyses. For instance, the Content Analysis Tool (CAT) audits content of all types, including text, image, video and metadata, allowing you to minimize errors on effort-intensive tasks and enhance content performance.
CAT does its job particularly well, but to be able to meet the challenges of future, marketers need more advanced automation technology that goes beyond just content auditing, curation, scheduling, and other mundane tasks.
And the answer could be content bots.
Could it, really? At the moment, chat bots are facing the heat, as AI technology is still in its infancy. However, we will see bots that can power a lot of content processes in the very near future. For instance, Outbrain, the content recommendation engine, has engineered a bot that pushes publishers’ content in a text format to users over messaging platforms like Slack, Telegram, Kik, and Facebook Messenger.
Moving a step further, we are also seeing some increasingly intelligent and sophisticated content bots. Sverker Johansson, a wiki contributor, has 10,000 articles to his credit, thanks to the Lsjbot that gathers information from credible sources, unjumbles all the information, and forms a short but coherent stub entry, like this one:
Apart from bots, many content creators are seeing the future in virtual reality too. As Shane Smith, Co-Founder and CEO of Vice Media, puts it, “Somebody is going to come up with the iPhone of VR.” Shane plans to be ready when that happens, which is why he is already building a library of content tailored to VR. That’s future-proofing content strategy for you.
To cut the long story short, the future of content is more innovative, more responsible, and more automated. If you have a legion of writers, visualizers, and social media execs churning out content (not like this one, of course), creating little or no value, start worrying. Examine your content strategy and revisit your goals. The doom of bad content is not a distant and vague possibility because readers, viewers, editors and even content creators are cracking the whip on what we call “shitty” content!