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5 Predictions for Your Content in 2016 - 1/26/2016 -


Taylo

5 Predictions for Your Content in 2016

Whether you consider your organization a content marketer or not, these five predictions reveal where you need to be headed with content delivery to members and customers.

By Victoria Taylo

In the last couple years or so, the marketing industry has pushed hard for a bigger emphasis on content as a viable business strategy. As a result, we have seen an explosion of content — good and bad, static and dynamic, branded and otherwise. With this popularity comes certain challenges, but it mostly brings opportunity. Opportunity for associations and members to connect, engage, and convert.

Despite early reports that content marketing would be just another fad, I can say with confidence that it isn’t going away any time soon. So, where is content marketing going? Here are some predictions.

PREDICTION #1 — LONG-FORM CONTENT

We will see a lot more long-form content coming from brands, large and small. More and more marketers will hop on board as they recognize the data, which clearly shows that longer content is both popular with readers and prominent in search results, essentially killing two (very important) birds with one stone. For example, a NewsWhip study looked at the top 10 most-shared stories on Facebook from a range of publishers and found that the average word counts were over 1,000 words.

This is despite mobile devices and the increasing amount of content consumed on them. It seems that people do enjoy reading lengthy articles on their mobile phones, which may be the tipping point for content marketers still on the fence about the ROI of long-form content. The study found that one of the longest viral stories was a 3,535 word transcription of a lecture by Neil Gaiman on the importance of reading, posted by the Guardian. It has been shared over 497,000 times since being posted in October 2013.

You can also expect to see greater prominence of long-form content in search results. Previously, Google set aside space on its search results pages to highlight in-depth content, and studies have shown that length of content has a direct correlation to the ranking or positioning in search results. It is only a matter of time before content marketers convince upper management that more resources ought to be dedicated to churning out quality long-form content.

PREDICTION #2 — IMPROVED ANALYTICS

There is a huge need for measurement beyond mere clicks and shares. A clever campaign by Solve, an independent ad agency, may have set out to prove this point when it released a four-minute blank video through YouTube pre-roll ads. The video, to much surprise, drove 100,000 views. The investment was just $1,400 (that’s 1.4 cents per view) — for a video that was completely blank! The experiment shows just how far video engagement metrics still have to go. That extends to all engagement metrics, not just multimedia.

The future of content marketing will see better analytics that measure engagement through meaningful discussion, cross-platform/channel, and the actionable results of those discussions. According to one survey, [CK3]only 25 percent of marketers measure the ROI of their efforts down to the actual piece of content. Reasons being that it’s still too difficult and too time consuming, which is why you can expect to see major improvements in analytics tools.

Additionally, we will see a bigger reliance on data, so marketers can personalize content for highly targeted audiences to better reach and engage with them. In a HBR article titled, "Big Data Is The Next Big Thing in Content Marketing,” it states that "newspapers such as The Guardian and The New York Times have invested heavily in data journalism because they recognize that the world of big data offers opportunities to uncover new insights and to tell stories in newly compelling ways.” If none of that excites you, just think of all the infographic opportunities!

PREDICTION #3 — PERSONALIZED / CUSTOMIZED CONTENT

Related to the previous prediction, customized content relies on visitor data to deliver relevant content to viewers based on their specific interests and challenges (think: Amazon, Apple Music, Outbrain). Outbrain, for instance, is a content recommendation platform that serves those "RECOMMENDED FOR YOU” elements that appear at the bottom of blog posts or news articles. If you’ve never taken a close look, the recommended articles lead to external sites related to the content you’ve just read.

This content is usually based on topics or keywords, but as algorithms get smarter, suggestion boxes and even website results will become more and more customized to each user in the future. In a 2012 survey by Econsultancy and Adobe, half of surveyed marketers claimed to embrace the importance of content personalization in their digital strategies, yet only 32 percent said their content management systems accelerated content personalization. You can expect this will continue to change as time goes on. Since then, we’ve seen many personalized services gain momentum (Scoopinion, Evergage, Hootsuite Suggestions, etc.).

For example, if you install the Scoopinion browser extension, it will provide you with a list of articles you are likely to find interesting based on what you’ve already read. The results are amazingly accurate and an indicator of what will soon become commonplace in search results, social networks, websites, and almost anywhere you are searching and reading information. Mark Sherbin writes for Content Marketing Institute, "From placing cookies in a visitor’s browser to simply asking for visitor information, content marketers have a variety of options to help them get started with personalizing their content.”

PREDICTION #4 — AUDIO CONTENT

Podcasts have exploded in recent years, thanks to smartphones and Internet-enabled cars. Their quick rise to fame is an indicator that there are much more to come. Actually, ​in this fact sheet on podcasts, Nancy Vogt writes for Pew Research Center: "The increased reach and upward trend line of podcast consumption is evident in every available measure — the percentage of Americans who are listening to podcasts, the level of public awareness, and how many podcasts are being hosted and downloaded.”

With a higher number of commuters, a growing adoption of smartphones, and major advances in technology, it is no wonder audio has caught on. People need content variety. Furthermore, there are many cases where audio is the convenient choice, the better choice: in the car, walking to class, at the gym, etc. Overall, an estimated 46 million Americans over the age of 12 now listen to podcasts on a monthly basis — that’s 17 percent of the 12+ U.S. population, up from 12 percent in 2013. This number will continue to grow as people figure out (firsthand or second) what works and what doesn’t​.

Jordan Harbinger, talk show host and co-founder of The Art of Charm, predicts that everyone will have a podcast in the future. So if you’re thinking about starting one, you should probably start now. Harbinger points out that as more and more cars come equipped with Internet connectivity, podcasts will be in everyone’s car. At that point, podcasts won’t be podcasts anymore — it will just be the radio.

While many claimed 2015 would be the year of podcasts, brands haven’t caught on just yet. It’s a solid prediction that we will see more branded audio con​tent in the future.

PREDICTION #5 — VIRTUAL REALITY

We’ve already seen big moves with virtual reality in marketing (e.g., HBO fans have virtually scaled the icy wall from Game of Thrones; Marriott has provided people with virtual tours of Hawaii and London; and Lexus and Volvo have given customers virtual test drives of its cars). I predict there is much more to come. These examples illustrate but a small sample of what can be done with VR in marketing.

As for media organizations, The New York Times is already looking toward virtual reality as a new form of journalism, and Facebook is reportedly looking to bring VR to mobile devices with a 360-degree video app that would allow users to change viewing perspective by tilting their phones. Just imagine the video marketing possibilities with this technology.

In an article titled, "Virtual Reality: The Next Content Marketing Storyteller,” [CK10]Krystal Overmyer writes, "Content marketing that uses VR to tell better stories — stories that excite, teach, inform or entertain — will inspire consumers to keep coming back for more.” More brands and publishers will experiment with these technologies; VR in content is not as far away as one might think.

CONCLUSION

While we will never know for sure what the trends will be in the coming years, the current trends are a good indicator of what’s to come. We can’t be right every time, but we are excited to see what 2016 and beyond has in store for content.

Victoria Taylo is the content marketing manager at Readz and editor of the Readz Magazine. She creates content for marketers seeking guidance in the digital sphere.


 

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