Content marketing is subject to trends the same way everything else in life is. Different groups of people latch on to new ideas, run with them, and eventually drop them when the next big thing hits. Some trends evolve into long-term best practices that stick around indefinitely, while others are fleeting, only staying top of mind for a few months.
As a content marketer, it can be difficult to know which is which, and even more difficult to try and predict which trends will spike in popularity in the future. Predict correctly and you’ll reap the rewards of a spike in readers; predict incorrectly and you’ll waste time on a fleeting trend.
Today, there are dozens of current trends circulating about, amidst rumors of how technologies will develop and how consumer tastes will change. Some of these are throwaways, but these seven are more than worth pursuing—they’re simply too important to ignore:
Most content marketers realize the secret to writing content that gets found on search engines. All you have to do is write answers to the questions that people are asking. If you come up with the best answer for a common question, you’ll see a surge in traffic as your answer gets more visibility and therefore more hits. This fundamental principle is going to remain, but with one key difference: Google is going to start providing its own answers to as many questions as possible. By using the Knowledge Graph, Google is already providing simple answers to simple questions, meaning you have virtually no hope of getting traffic from those queries. As a result, many content marketers are turning to answer more specific, more complicated queries.
Up until recently, specifically structured sentences featuring keywords have been the dominant trend in content language. Google’s Hummingbird update, which introduced the process of “semantic search,” eliminated the relevance of keywords, instead looking for semantic clues to understand the intention and meaning behind long phrases of language. Now, as more users start to rely on digital assistants and voice search, more conversational, semantic queries will start becoming the norm, and content marketers will be forced to include more conversational, colloquial language. The closer your content resembles natural human speech, the more likely it will be to get picked up.
The hyper-competitive landscape of the Internet is only going to get more competitive in the near future. That means if you want to get any visibility at all, you’ll have to find new ways to differentiate yourself. You’ll have to drill down even deeper into your niche and cover even more specific topics, and do more competitive research to ensure what you’re saying hasn’t been said before. This is also important because of Google’s encroachment on general answers to general questions—the more specific your content is, the less competition you’ll face from the Knowledge Graph.
This is a trend that’s been around in some form for the past several years. Companies that include images and videos as part of their content marketing strategy tend to see better results than those who rely on written text alone. But the idea of “multimedia” is related to the diversity and integration of different mediums—that means using a lot of different applications, not just one or two, and making sure they tie together in some way. That could mean including a podcast interview alongside a written transcript, or an infographic summary of a video—the trick is to use multiple mediums to carry a single message.This will give you the widest possible reach and allow you to reach the greatest number of possible consumers.
Users love to feel involved with the content they consume, and their demand for such interactivity will only increase as technologies become more capable of allowing it. Your blogs will need to speak directly to people and compel them to engage. You’ll need to sponsor user participation through promotions and invitations. You’ll need to include functional participation features like surveys and quizzes. Make it personally inviting, and get your readers actively involved.
Wearable devices like the Apple Watch and Google Glass are just now beginning to emerge, but in a matter of years—maybe even months—they’ll start dominating the mobile device scene. When they do, the geographic relevance of user queries will skyrocket in importance. That means you’ll need to do more to tie your content to your city and your neighborhood, and offer interactive ways to digitally engage with a physical audience. Innovation here could establish you as a landmark thought leader for a revolutionary new technology.
One major trend in content that has stuck around as a long-term best practice is the art of storytelling. If you can communicate your message or your idea in story form, you’ll be far more effective in compelling an audience. Social media tends to be dominated by the now—whoever has the most compelling idea in the present tends to win out. The future of social content is therefore a marriage of these two principles: getting your users to tell real-time stories about your brand. The path you take to get there is up to you.
These seven content marketing trends are going to shape the next era of inbound marketing and consumer-brand relationships. Search, wearable technology, user experience demands, and demographics are all undergoing a significant evolution, and if you want to stay ahead of the competition, you’ll have to start acting now to adapt.
Want more information on content marketing? Head over to our comprehensive guide on content marketing here: The All-in-One Guide to Planning and Launching a Content Marketing Strategy.