In this guest post, Lauren Quaintance (pictured below) from content marketing firm Storyation, passes a curious eye over industry figures who made bold New Year media predictions this time last year to see how well they fared…
It’s that time of year when your social feed is full of predictions for what the next 12 months will bring. Call me curious, but I always wonder what happened to the best guesses from the previous year. Of course, some predictions about the future of content marketing are obvious or just plain self-serving (like when an SEO consultant suggests SEO will be the biggest trend – surprise!) So we’ve reviewed some of the more interesting projections made by respected commentators in 2016 to see whether, with the benefit of hindsight, they’ve proved true or false.
Brands Will Buy Media Platforms
Who said it? Joe Pulizzi, Founder of the Content Marketing Institute said that instead of taking the slow road of building an audience on their own platforms, brands will acquire niche websites and media platforms to acquire an audience for their content.
So what happened? To Joe Pulizzi’s credit he’s humble enough to say that his predictions could well be wrong and this hasn’t come to pass yet – not in Australia at least. The closest we’ve come is brands underwriting publisher sites such as Qantas’ sponsorship of the youth site AWOL.
Our take It is a thought-provoking idea and one that might work for brands that are prepared to drop the sales pitch and focus on useful, audience-first content that aligns with their brand values. If they can’t do this, they will quickly alienate the site’s existing audience.
Video Will Win Out Over Text
Who said it? Jay Baer, a New York Times best-selling author who has consulted to brands including Nike, predicted 2016 would be the year that video becomes the primary focus for B2C and B2B brands.
So what happened? Where Facebook goes brands follow and since the mega social platform has tweaked its algorithm to prioritise video, consumption has increased dramatically reaching 8 billion daily video views. Then again, if the Content Marketing Institute’s annual Benchmarks study is to be believed Australian marketers’ use of video as a tactic has decreased in the last 12 months from 78 per cent to 64 per cent.
Our take The video revolution has been upon us for some time, but local marketers have been grappling with how to do video in a repeatable and scalable way that delivers a tangible return on their investment
Content Will Rise to the C-Suite
Who said it? Well-known American content marketing commentator Rebecca Lieb said brands would start to appoint senior executives to oversee content initiatives. “Content is not a channel, it’s related to all advertising, marketing and communications initiatives… It requires senior, strategic oversight – something companies are coming to recognise.”
So what happened? While this is undoubtedly a trend in the US where there are high-profile chief content officer roles that report directly to the CEO, it hasn’t happened in Australia – yet.
Our take While we understand the logic, content marketing in Australia is less mature than the US and having a senior content marketing manager who reports to the CMO feels like a good start for most brands.
Content for People – Not Search Engines
Who said it? Reading the e-newsletter from Business 2 Community is a daily habit for many content marketers, and one of the site’s top picks for 2016 was that digital marketers would put more value on creating content for people instead of search engines.
So what happened? Business 2 Community cited a study that 82 per cent of US marketers now say they prioritize creating content for their target audience rather than simply to drive search results.
Our take Search remains incredibly important but smart marketers are using keywords and search insights to inform their content rather than letting SEO dictate the style and tone of their content (although that might also have something to do with Google’s changes to its algorithms that mean you can no longer game the system with keyword stuffing.)
There’s no such thing as a crystal ball of course but I think that my main take-out is that most trends take longer to come to pass than you imagine – especially in Australia which is still two years behind the US.
Lauren Quaintance is Head of Content for Sydney content agency Storyation www.storyation.com