Marketing moves fast, and working in this industry means you've got to get comfortable with change. At the drop of a hat, new marketing tools can change how we create and distribute our messaging, emerging technologies change how we track ROI, and trends can impact our decision-making processes.
Earlier this year, I made my own predictions for some of the biggest social media trends and content marketing trends brands should prepare for in 2018. To help us all get a more thorough understanding of what the future holds for content marketing, my team and I reached out to 11 marketing leaders for their predictions about the biggest trends in content in 2018:
1. Audience experience will become more important than ever.
"As we move toward 2018, now is the time to look at where your content lives, your site structure, your reader journey, etc. When someone arrives at your site or content hub, do they need to search to find what they're looking for? If they do find it (and hopefully consume it), where do you want them to go next? Is it easy for them to get there? Is it a good experience for them? Building an audience in 2018 is about more than just telling a better story than you did in 2017. Make sure the actual experience of reading or watching it is better, too." -- Andrew Grinch, content director at Woodruff
2. High-quality content clusters are the future of search.
"Your content should be all about quality, not quantity. Recent changes to search engine algorithms still value fresh site content, but that doesn't mean you should just churn out blog article after blog article -- your time is better spent creating more targeted content in more pleasing, easier-to-digest formats. And as search engines continue to display content based on a searcher's intent rather than a string of keywords, creating content clusters centered around targeted topics is going to be the best way to spend your time." -- Doug Fowler, president at Waypost Marketing
3. Content strategies will expand.
"As consumer trust in brand-controlled messaging continues to deteriorate, it matters less what a brand says about itself and more that those claims are mirrored by what people are saying about it online. 2018 will see a pronounced expansion of the scope of a brand's content strategy, extending beyond brand-owned properties to include the facilitation of favorable content published on third-party websites. The most impactful content will be authored by authentic, influential voices in relevant communities where customers are looking for unbiased opinions and recommendations at critical points in the customer journey." -- Angela Brooks, VP of brand strategy at Terakeet
4. Channel experimentation will be critical to reaching your audience.
"Reuse has always been a key part of content marketing, given how long good content takes to produce. However, the mediums have changed. Converting your whitepaper into a blog post and slide show has given way to podcasts and video stories on Instagram. Don't be afraid to try these new channels to see what works for your content. Maybe your mailing list is still the secret weapon, but you won't know unless you keep testing these new opportunities." -- Ash Rust, managing partner at Sterling Road
5. Brands will need to think like media companies.
"2018 will be the battle for time. The opportunity to secure uninterrupted and focused time with consumers will still exist, but it's going to be more challenging than ever to act upon. In order to capture hearts, minds, and -- ultimately -- wallets, the smartest brands will realize that they must stop thinking like advertisers and start thinking like media companies, giving core audiences value beyond just the products and services they provide." -- Jesse Greenberg, chief strategy officer at Ackerman McQueen
6. Dynamic content will continue rising.
"There's a growing prevalence of live and dynamic content, as opposed to static content, in social media, like an Instagram story or live story versus a static post. A growing number of brands are using this to tell a more authentic story via social media and connect with a base of Millennial consumers on a more personal level to create trust and offer a kind of 'behind the scenes' look, if you will." -- Sebastian Bryers, CTO at Ora Organic, a client of ours
7. Highly relevant stories will be crucial for driving action.
"With the ever-increasing clutter and noise online, it will be crucial for brands to focus on reaching their desired audience with thought-provoking material that elicits a clear action at each step. I would encourage brands to build a foundation of content based on flagship stories they are telling. Focus on diving deep into key customer trends, needs, and solutions, and build a portfolio of highly relevant stories for your markets. High-impact value and continuity will be key to upholding a consistent message in the content avalanche facing your audience." -- Raj Kumar Munusamy, VP, content and messaging, global marketing at Schneider Electric
8. There will be a greater focus on building an audience.
"In 2017, much of our focus as marketing professionals had been on native advertising, which remains an important factor in a content marketing strategy. Moving into 2018, however, there will be a greater focus on building a loyal audience that will give those trusted content brands multiple options to monetize that content." -- Alexandra Miscevich, director of marketing at Citadel Servicing Corporation
9. Increasing use of ad blockers will challenge your traffic analytics.
"Besides blocking ads, ad-block extensions block all tracking scripts running on any site, including Google Analytics, Facebook, etc. In 2018, ad-block use is predicted to double. Look at your server-side analytics from whoever you are hosting with, and compare those traffic numbers to your Google Analytics traffic numbers. Install a service such as GoAccess.io, which can pull more accurate traffic and data numbers from your server and help you improve your marketing decision-making."-- Dmitry Dragilev, founder of Criminally Prolific
10. Video will be nonnegotiable.
"Video is here to stay, and you won't be able to compete without it. Facebook and other ad platforms are showing preferences on organic and paid placements because the engagement rates are higher with video content. Hire a video agency, tell your story, and let consumers fall in love with your brand." -- Brian Rauschenbach, head of industry at Add3, a partner of ours
11. Snackable, searchable content will be key to reaching younger consumers.
"As consumers continue to be more forensic in their efforts to discern the best products for them, readily available and easily digestible content will continue to be an important part of the marketing mix. For marketers, this means more short-form content and better search and mobile strategies. Millennial and Gen Z consumers expect to find what they want, when they want with just a few touches on their mobile phone -- their life's command and control center." -- Brad Harrison, VP of marketing at ECOS
What do you think about these predictions? Are there any other trends you're planning for that I didn't include? Let me know your recommendations in the comments.