Last year around this time, I deemed 2013 the “year of content marketing” and I think I was right. Content marketing has existed for a lot longer than a year, but in 2013, this form of connecting with customers and promoting your business exploded. Today, it seems like every small business, large corporation, and even solo entrepreneur is talking about content strategy.
But the internet stands about as still as a troupe of river dancers. Let’s take a look at major trends in content marketing and what you need to know to succeed in 2014.
Trend #1: Mobile is where it’s at.
According to reports, 22% of the world’s population now owns a smartphone, up from just 5% in 2009. Of course, in many countries those rates are even higher; some companies even have an over 100% subscription rate, meaning that many people have more than one smart phone.
Admit it: you would break out in a cold sweat if you lost your phone. Actually, most of us would feel sick if we just forgot our phones at home. We live and die by our phones, sad as that may be.
So, if your content isn’t mobile-friendly, you’re missing out on a huge market. A huge, geeky, obsessed market. Do you have a responsive blog theme or a mobile website? What about an app? How do your readers interact with your content via their mobile devices?
Get ahead of the curve. Don’t just make your content mobile friendly. Customize it for the mobile audience to make the experience as good as possible for your mobile users. If you go above and beyond to provide a great user experience, you’ll outpace your competitors. The sad fact is, most content creators are still doing the bare minimum when it comes to creating mobile content.
Trend #2: Content curation is as important as content creation.
Over the past few months, one phrase has popped up on my radar more and more: Miley Cyrus
Just kidding. The phrase I’m really talking about is content curation.
No matter how big your content creation team, you can’t keep up with consumption. That’s where content curation comes in. Your audience doesn’t want to know you as just the person (or company) creating great content. They also want to know you as the person (or company) recommending great content.
If you’re afraid of promoting your “competitors,” you’re thinking about the situation incorrectly. When you share someone’s great content, you get some of the credit, even though you weren’t the creator. You build your brand as the expert in your niche/industry. You do have to be careful with what you promote (you don’t want to send customers away), but don’t be so scared that you only promote your own content. A true leader in content marketing curates as well as creates.
Trend #3: Having a Director of Content on your team is increasingly important.
As your business continues to create more and more content, it will become important to have someone on your team who will manage it all. Your Director of Content should have a diverse set of skills, in order to be able to both create content and come up with a strategy for your content that makes sense for your business goals. This person should also work closely with (if not oversee) your social media team and email marketing team, and they should have open lines of communication with all departments in your business. I recommend hiring someone with the ability to time travel if you can, but content marketing is a big, time-consuming job.
In 2014, I believe it will also become increasingly important to boost your Director of Content’s budget so they can pay for contributors and designers. I know a lot of businesses who aren’t spending much on content beyond their Director of Content’s salary. While there are sources of free content out there, the right Director of Content can stretch even a small budget to give you an amazing return.
Is your business too small for a Director of Content? Then you Director of Marketing better have a strong, strong grasp on content marketing.
Trend #4: Guest posting is bouncing back in new ways.
Over the last three years, guest posting went through some weird transitions. Three years ago, as a freelancer, I had clients knocking down my doors to pay me to publish guest posts on others’ sites on their behalf. Then, things changed. Too many low-quality writers inundated the blogosphere, and most bloggers couldn’t keep up with requests, most of which were for crap posts that didn’t add anything of value to the blog. On top of that, readers began to cry foul as some bloggers published more guest posts than posts of their own.
Many blogs locked down like Fort Knox, no longer accepting unsolicited guest posts. Some blogs decided not to accept guest posts at all. But in the last few months, I’ve seen a bit of a shift. Bloggers are not on guest post lock down like they have been in the past, but what they’re looking for is changing. It isn’t just about quality content anymore. It’s about filling a gap.
No blogger can be an expert on every topic in their niche. So, many bloggers are extremely receptive (and in some cases actively looking for) people who can write about topics where their own knowledge is weak. In my experiences, bloggers are even looking for monthly contributors, not just one-time guest posters. If you want to make guest posting part of your content marketing strategy for 2014, start looking for those gaps and pitch bloggers on filling them.
Trend #5: The best content is entertaining, not just educational.
In past, we’ve drawn lines in the sand. This content was entertaining. That content was educational. Increasingly, though, I think readers are demanding both.
Entertaining doesn’t mean your blog has to be ha-ha, laugh-out-loud funny, but it does mean that you have to have a little special sauce spread on your posts. Maybe you add some personal stories to help people understand a point. Maybe you improve your writing to add some clever phrases. Maybe it means that you aren’t afraid to be a little goofy sometimes.
I used to say “it depends on your niche” but I don’t think that’s the case any longer. I think your educational posts have to have a little pizazz. Boring content just isn’t cutting it anymore.
So there you have it, my top five trends for content marketing in 2014. What trends do you see for content marketing this year?
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