Predicting The Future Ain’t Easy
In 1989, Back to the Future Part 2 was released. Some of the more memorable parts of the movie included scenes which depicted the year 2015. Predictions of the future featured in those scenes included self-lacing shoes, flying cars, hover (skate)boards, and an oven that could cook a pizza in seconds. The most notable “miss”, though, was the lack of cell phones. Not a single person in those 2015 scenes was carrying around the one device that 99% of us do today.
What does this illustrate? That we’re often bad at guessing what technology and trends are just around the corner.
Content marketing has changed a lot over the last few decades as phones, computers, and social media have completely transformed society. With that in mind, what developments can be expected over the next decade in the field? Let’s see if we can make some well-educated guesses regarding content marketing future trends. Even if most of these predictions turn out to be incorrect, it can't be more off than they were in Back to the Future part 2 as they also predicted Jaws part 19!
What is Content Marketing?
Before we start predicting the future of content marketing, let’s first define what it is. Content marketing is a particular type of marketing strategy that involves the creation and distribution of content that is valuable and relevant to a target audience. This is done through a variety of channels including, but not limited to, videos, social media, eBooks, case studies, email newsletters, webinars, and blog posts.
What separates a content marketing strategy from other marketing strategies is that the promotion of products and services is not the only goal; content marketers also strive to build trust, credibility, and long-term relationships with their audience.
When it comes to measuring success, content marketing employs a data-driven approach to continually optimize and improve metrics such as website traffic, engagement, social media shares, leads generated, conversions, and revenue.
What is the Future of Content Marketing?
The question is not if content marketing will change, but how. Time to play “Back to the Future: The 2030 edition”...
Increased use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning
Ok, not really going out on much of a limb with this first one. Things in this realm are going to progress so quickly that ChatGPT will soon become the rotary phone of the AI world. Here’s a few ways AI and machine learning may impact the world of content marketing in the future:
Enhanced (Hyper) Personalization
The ability to create highly personalized content certainly exists today, but as AI and machine learning algorithms become even more sophisticated, they will be able to analyze increasingly complex data sets. In the future, most content creation will likely be based on psychographic (a person’s values and attitudes), location, and even weather data.
Voice Search Optimization
Voice search optimization will become more prevalent in the future, and as voice assistants continue to advance they will be able to better understand natural language queries. As a result, content will need to be more conversational, use everyday language, and have the ability to be read aloud by voice assistants.
Also, as voice search becomes more popular with mobile devices, more emphasis will be placed on localization. This means that businesses will need to focus on optimizing their content for local search queries and tailor their content to specific regions.
When’s the optimal time to post on social media: is it 8 am for the early risers or 2 pm to grab the attention of people after lunch? Taking into account factors such as user behavior and platform algorithm, AI and machine learning will be used to identify the best time to post on social media or to suggest worthwhile ad targeting options.
This process will eventually be fully automated as AI and machine learning will be able to analyze large amounts of data to identify patterns and trends that may not be immediately apparent to humans. Also, it can help ensure the quality of curated content by analyzing and filtering out low-quality or irrelevant content.
More Emphasis on Immersive and Interactive Content
If writing blogs is your life, then this one might hurt your feelings. It’s a pretty safe bet that as time goes on, the act of simply reading written words will decline as people will crave more engaging content and interactive experiences.
New Skill Sets
In the past, a hallmark of great content marketers was the ability to write well. In the future, though, more specialized skills, such as 3D modeling and game design, will be sought after as virtual and augmented reality experiences will be in high demand.
How Customers Buy
The lines between physical and digital retail will become almost indistinguishable as virtual and augmented reality will be more seamless and integrated into the consumer's overall shopping experience.
The future will bring about a stronger connection between brands and their audience due to more immersive and emotionally impactful narratives.
For example, virtual reality will enable customers to interact with products in a fully immersive manner, allowing them to see and experience products in a simulated environment before making a purchase. Augmented reality will allow customers to see virtual images superimposed onto the real world.
More Video Content
Video content will continue to dominate as the preferred form of content among customers, leading to an increase in the number of businesses investing in video marketing.
Basically, the content marketing version of “I’d rather watch the movie than read the book.”
A few quick predictions:
Younger audiences will shun the idea of reading an 8 minute blog. Short-form video content (e.g. Instagram Reels) will allow brands to reach younger audiences, cater to shorter attention spans, and showcase their personality.
Customers will heavily value having a sense of community and, as a result, live streaming will become more commonplace. This will enable brands to interact with their audience in real time.
Desktop devices have been dying a slow death, but it will likely speed up in the future. As a result, brands will need to focus on creating video content that is optimized for mobile devices. This will also include prioritizing accessibility in video content (i.e. ensuring that captions and transcripts are available).
The Rise of the Micro-Influencer
Influencer marketing has recently made its presence known in the content marketing world, but the future will likely see smaller influencers take center stage.
Influencers are expensive. In fact, the more “influential” they are, the more it’s going to cost a company to employ their services. While the benefits can sometimes outweigh those costs, they don’t always.
Micro-influencers, on the other hand, offer a more cost-effective solution of reaching niche audiences with targeted messaging. The definition of micro-influencers varies, but generally they can be thought of as someone with 1,000-100,000 followers on any number of platforms, and in the future they will play a more prominent role in content marketing.
As businesses in the future attempt to offer more inclusion in their marketing campaigns, brands will need to work with micro-influencers who can represent and speak to a diverse range of communities. Micro-influencers who are from underrepresented or historically marginalized backgrounds, or who advocate for social causes, will likely become more sought after.
It’s safe to say the future of content marketing trends is not white papers, eBooks, and blogs.
But here’s what it might be…
(a micro one)