Content marketing has taken some surprising turns over the past five years, and most marketers won’t disagree with the aphorism, “content is king.” But in 2018, that’s only half of the story. Content really is king, but marketers are starting to learn that what type of content, and where it is placed, is far more important than the older volume-based strategies.
In 2018, content marketers will have to learn some new tricks, abandon some old ones, and come to the realization that how they define “content marketing” will have to change. Here are five predictions that every content marketer will have to know in the coming year.
- It’s time to let content spam die. Content spam – quick and dirty articles written by non-professionals for a few dollars each which offer no value to readers – will continue to exist, unfortunately. The returns on this type of content are minimal, and low-quality content makes you look bad, but far too many web publishers simply don’t have a clue about what this business is really about, and should look for something else. But the promise of quick riches is compelling, and poor-quality articles will continue to fill the Internet.
- Publishers are getting greedy. Web publishers are running scared, afraid that the constantly-changing Google algorithm will punish them. As a result, they are not sharing the love. Publishers want free content, and content marketers are happy to provide it, but increasingly, publishers are offering nothing in return. “Yes, we want your content, but we’re not going to pay for it,” they say. That’s acceptable, because content marketers work by offering articles in exchange for a link or the opportunity to include a brand mention. But increasingly, the addendum to that statement is “And you don’t get any links, either, even if your articles are journalist-quality and reflect a high level of thought leadership.” Everybody loses out in this strategy, and content marketers will find it increasingly difficult to find legitimate third-party media outlets on which to place content.
- 2018 will be the year of brand journalism. Faced with this increasing dilemma, content marketers will embrace brand journalism. Already, several high-profile brands have created their own in-house editorial departments, launching full-fledged online publications with good old-fashioned editorial oversight, copyediting, and everything that print newspapers used to do. In 2018, if you want your content published, you need to think about publishing it yourself. But brand journalism isn’t spam – brand journalism, simply put, is high quality content which contains real value for readers, written by professional writers and journalists, and published in an attractive, well-thought out online publication. It takes time and money, and it takes some talent – brand journalism articles aren’t written by “content providers,” they are written by real writers, many of which have degrees in journalism and experience in newspapers and magazines with excellent reputations.
- Every company will need a managing editor. Everyone is focusing on producing content, whether it’s for their own company website, a secondary brand journalism website, or to place in third-party sites. But the problem here is that your company isn’t in the business of journalism. Let’s say you manufacture Styrofoam cups. You’re good at it, you have all the right equipment, and you have a good salesforce. But your staffers aren’t writers. You assign the task of producing content to the marketing department, but they aren’t writers, either. The need for high quality content is obvious, and as more marketers realize that the spammy two-dollar-an-article pieces aren’t cutting it for them, they will soon realize that they need a managing editor, with some real publishing chops and experience in the publishing industry, at the helm. And even more importantly, that managing editor will have a staff of creatives – not marketers – doing the actual creation.