To help you plan ahead and get your content marketing program in tip-top shape, columnist Rachel Lindteigen predicts the changes you can expect to see next year.
We’re in the end of 2017, cruising into the all-important holiday season, and you’re probably focused on closing out the year on a strong note. However, have you started thinking about your 2018 program? How are you changing your content marketing program next year?
It’s important to review, reflect and strategize based on this year’s results. If you stick with the same program or plan from year to year, you may miss an opportunity to grow. What do you think is coming? And how will you change your approach to content marketing next year?
How is content changing for 2018?
Here are the changes I predict we’ll see in the new year.
Video is required now
Video content is huge, and it’s going to keep getting bigger. Video is more engaging than standard text, or even images. Video catches attention and increases engagement significantly.
If you’re not already producing video for your business, you’re very likely behind the competition. It’s time to add video to the content marketing mix.
Video works great on social media. From Facebook and YouTube live feeds to Instagram Stories or Instagram Live to produced video for any of the channels… it all helps. There are over a billion users on YouTube. And it’s reportedly the second-largest search engine, behind only Google.
It’s manageable and easier than before
Even a few years ago, video marketing was still overwhelming for many. The cost and necessary technology were a barrier to entry for some smaller businesses. They felt like they couldn’t compete because they didn’t have huge production budgets.
However, the reality is, huge production budgets aren’t necessary. You can shoot video on a cell phone today. There are many affordable accessories, and the video quality on today’s new cell phones is fantastic.
There are easy ways to use video from one channel on another. Did you know you can download a Facebook Live video, save it and upload it to your YouTube channel? You can.
You also can use the native tools to add captions and edit the caption files to ensure the message is correct. You should have some content that’s unique to each channel, but you can share other pieces and use that to help build your audience on both. You can link to your Facebook page from your YouTube channel and vice versa.
What type of video do you need?
Live video is favored in the Facebook algorithm right now, and that’s important because organic reach for most Facebook business pages is down a lot. Many business page owners are frustrated by the lack of organic reach.
With the Explore Feed test that Facebook has conducted in six countries, there’s been a lot of discussion about organic reach dropping even more if the test is rolled out systemwide. As of right now, Facebook says they don’t intend to roll it out any further than they have. However, that could change at any moment.
I personally see about a five-to-10x increase in engagement and reach on my weekly Facebook Live Marketing Training over any other content I share on Facebook. My videos also perform significantly better than images, blog posts, links or industry updates. I do a mix of produced training and tip videos and a weekly Marketing Training session via Facebook Live for my followers.
You can do live or produced video — either is good, and both is better. Share your videos on multiple channels to meet your audience where they spend most of their time.
SEO is going to increase in importance again
Many business owners have focused heavily on social media over the past few years and have seen success in building their brands and growing their audiences. However, with the changes we’re experiencing in social media reach, I predict a return to SEO. As people grow weary of putting so much effort into channels they don’t own, they’ll begin to reflect on their websites and blogs and put more focus on them.
SEO efforts are a long-term investment, but they can pay dividends for years to come. One great post that’s well-optimized and ranks high can drive traffic to your site for years.
Building a site’s authority through content development and link attraction has been proven to drive more leads and to increase keyword rankings and traffic for websites. I’ve personally seen clients experience 100 percent or greater year-over-year increases in organic traffic when they implemented consistent, strong SEO strategies.
Consistent content production will be the focus
We’re seeing a big focus on creating better content, and I think that will continue. People may create slightly less content overall but focus on better storytelling. Consistency is the key to success with content marketing.
I tell my clients to think like a publisher, because that’s what content marketers are today. When someone signs up for a magazine subscription, they know when they’ll receive each issue. As content marketers, it needs to be the same. Your audience should know what to expect from you and when they’ll receive the next video, podcast or blog post.
Cross-channel integration is necessary
As we move into 2018, there’s a ton of content being produced every day. However, one of the biggest challenges I see across the board is the lack of an integrated, cross-channel content strategy.
I love doing a competitive content review for my clients and really digging in to see what’s happening in their industry. And most times, there are so few examples of a well-executed integrated cross-channel content strategy that it’s a quick win for the client.
Your fans and followers spend their time in different places on the web. It’s up to you to provide a cohesive message across all channels. It should be easy to tell who the message is from and what it’s about whether it’s consumed on Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, your blog, your website, an email campaign, your podcast or another channel of your choice.
Having a unified message helps your consumer feel connected and know what to expect from you.
Less will be more
In many ways, I think shiny object syndrome has hurt content marketers the past few years. People hear about a new social channel and jump on it because they want to be there. Sometimes their audience is there. Sometimes they’re not.
A few years ago, it was Google+ — as SEOs, we were recommending people be on G+ simply for the potential SEO benefit. We knew there wasn’t traffic there, but it was suspected that the +1s on posts increased your keyword rankings. Once we found out that it really didn’t impact our rankings and the audience wasn’t there, the recommendations stopped.
Today, there are so many social channels. I see some business owners trying to be everywhere and spreading themselves so thin that they’re not able to focus as much as they should on their core channels.
It seems like a new channel becomes the darling of the social media world for a little while, and then the enthusiasm quickly dies off. I saw this a few months ago with a channel called Anchor.fm. I saw it start to bubble up, and people were jumping to it, creating their channels and suddenly promoting Anchor.fm — and then, almost as quickly as they started, they stopped.
The thing is, you don’t have to be on every social channel. Honestly, I don’t think you should. I think you should look at your analytics and see where your traffic comes from.
Find out where your audience spends their time and focus on those channels. Maybe you find that Twitter isn’t driving traffic for you anymore but Instagram and Pinterest are driving tons. Then it’s time to re-evaluate where you focus your efforts.
I’m in the midst of evaluating my website, blog and social media performance for this year and determining where my focus will be for 2018. I know there will be more emphasis on video for me.
I recently invested in a great video production setup because it’s working for my business. I’m making a few changes to my social media marketing plans and will be focusing more heavily on some channels than others.
This year, I launched a new side to the business that includes a marketing training program, and that means I need to re-evaluate everything, as I now have two different businesses to support with my website, blog and social media marketing efforts.
What changes will you make?
Think about where you are today and where you want to go in the future. It’s a good time to start planning for the future. Is it time to align your departments internally? Are your SEO, social media and content marketing still being run by different people or even different agencies? (It happens a lot.)
If so, I encourage you to find a way to bring everything together, under one central umbrella, and create a cohesive content strategy that’s the core of everything you do. To succeed in content marketing, those three teams need to function as one.
What changes do you need to make to be more successful? Are you ready to make them for 2018?
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.