Although it’s considered a “newer” form of marketing, content marketing has undergone several transformations by now. Once thought by some to be a glorified form of blogging, content marketing has proven to be much more.
But these endless metamorphoses tell us that content marketing isn’t going to be, well, content resting on its laurels. It’s going to continue changing, driven by shifts in the market and in consumer preferences, meaning these early changes were just harbingers of what’s to come.
What should we bet on? Today’s trends give us a few clues.
Content Marketing Trends That Are Here to Stay
COVID-19 has shaken everything up — sometimes for the better. Here’s what’s been shifting in the content marketing world and will likely become permanent:
1. Search and amplification will dictate strategy more.
With more people investing in digital, there will be more content than ever. (And let’s not kid ourselves that there was already a lot.) That means our focus will need to be on distribution.
Search and amplification are two of the best ways to get content discovered. Rather than aim to just create great content, the possibility for maximizing search and amplification will become an earlier part of the conversation. When we developed Calendar’s content strategy, we were heavily influenced by search and what people were wanting to educate themselves on. This approach has paid off, building an audience quickly in a crowded space.
2. Prepare for quick content pivots.
We face a very crazy year ahead, from the economy to the spread of the coronavirus. There will be a lot of timely news coming out, and the angles that different publications and organizations take will dictate — and quickly change — the conversation.
Some content departments will be too slow and miss the bus. Make sure your team is capable of remaining flexible so the content your company produces is as versatile and engaging as possible. Not only will this help you capitalize on getting content out there that addresses real problems, but it will also enable you to own the conversation in your industry, not simply react to others’ words.
3. Build up influence, then share it with others who have influence.
Influence is like currency these days, so build it and invest in it. Consistently reach out to people and companies with high-authority sites or influential channels. Content marketing — and marketing in general — allows you to borrow authority from others; this is a situation where the company you keep can boost your own reputation and visibility.
Build up your own valuable channel first. Whether it be via LinkedIn, an owned channel, or a podcast, focus intently on one channel. Then, take your success from those efforts and leverage them into opportunities with others.
4. Stay away from alienating audiences.
You may feel strongly about certain controversial topics, but limit your chances of alienating your readers. People are more on edge these days, and things you’ve seemingly presented in an informative manner could be taken the wrong way.
You can take a stance if something is really important to your company, but make sure you weigh the downfall before sending messages that could get you in trouble. Think through your mission as a company to determine what’s worth taking a stance on — remember that these messages affect your entire branding, so they need to be aligned. Individual voices can really impact a company’s image, so also make sure you issue clear guidelines across the company.
5. Authenticity and vulnerability are key to engaging others.
When I shared personal details in the past — like the fact that I enjoyed “The Notebook” or that I kept a stash of Sour Patch Kids handy — people would give me a strange look, even though I knew they liked those things, too. They just wouldn’t admit it for fear of being judged.
Nowadays, more people are embracing authenticity and vulnerability. More people are doing speeches with their kids playing in the background and sharing things about their personal life. As sad as this COVID world can be, I’ve enjoyed getting to see more realness with people and their content. People enjoy reading work from people they like, and it’s a lot easier to like someone you feel you know. Vulnerability is an engagement booster, not an engagement killer.
Content marketing is all about telling your story, but how you tell that story is defined by what’s going on around you. As the content marketing world endures change around every corner, keep an eye on what’s getting a more permanent foothold. That tells you how you’ll be telling your story next.