The State of Content Marketing in 2017

03
Jan 2017

State of Content Marketing in 2017

Happy New Year, y’all!

Welcome to the dawn of a new year. If 2016 was your best year yet, let’s figure out how to keep that momentum going. And if it wasn’t as good as you’d hoped, well, the good news is it’s time to make a fresh start.

Ever heard of the Chinese curse “May you live in interesting times?” As content marketers, we eat “interesting times” for breakfast every single day. Between changes in SEO, shifts in the social media landscape, new technologies, and morphing consumer preferences, “change” is the content marketer’s “normal.” (Tweet this) The year that just passed was no exception in terms of the changes it brought to our landscape, so before we get too far into this 2017 thing, let’s look at where we are today and how developments over the last 12 months have shaped — and re-shaped — the content marketer’s world.

1. Live Rules

In 2016, we took another step back from edited, polished, committee-approved, Photoshopped messaging and one step closer to the anything-goes world of shared live moments. Hard to believe it was nearly two years ago that Meerkat (remember them?) first whetted our collective appetite for live video. Then came Periscope (still kicking), Blab (may it rest in peace), and finally the 800-pound gorilla, Facebook Live.

How big is Facebook Live? Well …

  • 78 percent of online audiences watch video on Facebook Live (source)
  • Between January and September 2016, companies’ use of Facebook Live increased by 47 percent (source)
  • Users spend three times more time watching Facebook Live videos than watching recorded Facebook videos (source)

The State of Content Marketing in 2017

(Source: Socialbakers)

And then there’s the rise of Snapchat, the ultimate in-the-moment social platform. For must of us Average Joe Snapchatters, there is no “upload” button — we snap and share in the moment or we don’t share at all. We can pretty our snaps up with lenses, filters, and stickers, but the image itself remains. For many brands, this can be a scary proposition. No straightening photos, no color-correcting video, no watermarking every visual with your logo. And no getting next week’s snaps pre-approved by the Powers That Be.

For brands who consider themselves, to borrow a term from a TV ad, “control enthusiasts” when it comes to their marketing, this brave new world of live experiences demands a new approach. We have to loosen up. We have to be authentic. We have to throw away the script, the storyboard, the shot list and show our audiences who we really are — live and in person.

Our Challenge for 2017: Get really, really good at “the live thing.” Learn to thrive in a world where there’s no post-production. Create a set of standards around live video, Snapchat, and other live-experience platforms, get your team on board, and then let them create. The results may surprise you.

2. “Good Enough” Is the New Crap

Recently I was perusing some projects on LinkedIn ProFinder when one in particular caught my attention. It was posted by a law firm looking for a writer to create in-depth, engaging, insightful content for their blog on an ongoing basis.

And they’re willing to pay a whopping $25 per post.

I’m sure they’ll find someone to produce … well, something at that rate. But in-depth, engaging, and insightful content? Doubtful.

You know, I first rebranded my company as Resonance Content Marketing in 2012 … and nobody knew what the hell I was talking about. (“Content management? You mean, like SharePoint — so you’re in IT?”) Fast-forward to 2017 and content marketing has become an integral part of the mainstream marketing landscape. The good news is that people now know what we’re talking about. The bad news is that, as more brands jump on the bandwagon, we’re seeing a huge and growing sea of medium- to low-quality content that’s of no real use to anyone, including the brands who publish it.

Folks, if we’re going to rise above the riffraff in the year that stands before us, we have to up our quality game in 2017. Two years ago, I started the year with a post called “Crap Content Is Dead. Long Live Quality,” and it’s even more relevant today than it was back then. I’m still waiting for the day when the crap-content producers throw up their hands and huff “this stuff [i.e. content marketing] doesn’t work!” Apparently they’ll have to limp along a bit longer before that day comes.

So here’s our paradox: We need to create higher-quality content in an environment where it’s more challenging than ever to get attention. Where it takes longer to build a loyal audience. Where consumers are suffering from shiny-object overload.

We need to be a nourishing, well-balanced meal in a Pop-Rock world. (Tweet this)

Our Challenge for 2017: So, what can we do to raise the bar for our own content? We can be more discerning in our choice of topics, opting for issues that will resonate with our specific audiences over those that will simply generate more traffic. We can dive deeper into those topics and conduct more thorough research. And we can wrap it all up in superbly written, journalistic-quality content that keeps visitors enthralled from beginning to end.

3. The Return of Owned Channels

Take a moment and listen closely. Can you hear it? Listen again. Can you hear it now?

It’s the worldwide grinding of teeth as marketers look at the results — or lack thereof — from their organic content on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, and other social platforms. My own modest Facebook page has a few hundred followers, and seeing single digits in those “people reached” lines has become routine. YouTube superstar PewDiePie, who boasts an audience of millions, has floated the idea of deleting his channel when he claimed a change in the network’s algorithm had savaged his organic traffic.

Recently I was reading Joe Pulizzi’s post on “Five Content Marketing Trends to Watch in 2017” when the following statement stopped me in my tracks:

“As I travel the globe talking to enterprises about this issue, frustration is at the highest level I’ve seen. In 2017, I believe two things will happen — there will be more advertising on social media platforms and less organic publishing. The case can be made that a brand does not need to publish organic content on any social platform and instead can opt for an owned platform (website) plus paid promotion to create and grow an audience. Of course, social media sharing can happen, but the brand doesn’t need to be present on that platform for sharing to happen.”

This is huge, folks. We just can’t rely on social networks for engagement with our followers anymore. It’s rented property, and the landlord has changed the terms on us. While many brands are keeping their leases, they won’t be spending quite as much time there.

Where will all this content go? To the property we own: our websites. In 2017, I believe we’re going to see a renaissance of website marketing that incorporates the interactivity and fun we used to see from social media.

Our Challenge for 2017: Look at your website and start brainstorming ways to make it more interactive, more engaging, more fun — and not just on your blog page. Find innovative new ways to incorporate video, interactive experiences like quizzes and polls, and opportunities for conversation.

4. Retro Is the New New

As frustration with the overcrowded ocean that is online and social content, I’m seeing renewed interest in two old, familiar friends: email and, believe it or not, print.

Remember the early days of social media when all the gurus were saying “email is dead?” Nothing could be further from the truth. Given the choice between the two, would you prefer to spend time and effort on (a) a Facebook post that might be seen by 1 percent of your audience, or (b) an email that will show up in the inbox of everyone on your list?

I’ve been saying it from the beginning, and I’ll say it again: your email list is one of your greatest assets. Those folks have given you permission to, in a virtual sense, to come into their homes and share your ideas with them. Email accomplishes what no social platform can, and as organic social reach craters, it’s our surest method of engagement.

And then there’s print. Pulizzi predicts that in 2017, more brands will follow Airbnb’s lead and publish print magazines, which they will integrate with complementary online experiences. Just before the holidays, I kicked off a content repurposing project with a client that includes a strong print component. As consumers are inundated with thousands of online messages every day, there’s something about a beautiful print piece that can’t help but grab attention, and smart brands are catching on.

Our Challenge for 2017: Look for new and innovative ways to leverage email and print marketing. Think small scale (quick tips, trade show handouts) as well as large scale (newsletters, magazines), and see how you can leverage the content you’ve already created into beautiful email and print assets.

How I’m Raising the Bar

So, what will you do to adapt to this brave new world in 2017? For myself, I’m going to devote more attention to all three of these areas, with a special focus on #2.

I feel the need to raise my own bar for the content on this blog, which means more in-depth, well-researched content that offers unique insights into the issues my audience cares about. Now, sticking to that promise with our current editorial schedule would be near impossible … so I’m going to publish less often.

For the first quarter of 2017, I’ll be publishing longer, meatier posts, but only twice a month. I know this will mean breaking a rule I’ve preached over the years — “publish once a week or don’t bother” — but that was then, this is now. Brave new worlds require bold moves, and we’ll see how this one works out.

Okay, your turn. What will you do differently in 2017 to keep up with the current trends in our industry?


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About the Author

Rachel Parker, Founder & CEO of Resonance Content Marketing

A self-described geek who can recite entire episodes of South Park by heart, Rachel Parker has had a passion for content ever since she was old enough to hold a crayon (purple, please).

As Founder and CEO of Resonance, Rachel helps businesses publish content that connects with their audience … and converts those followers into customers. She’s also the host of the Content Marketing Podcast and author of the book The Content Marketing Coach: Everything You Need to Get in the Game … and WIN!
content_marketing_50 BizSugar Featured Author on Business 2 Community

Our Clients Are Saying

  • Social Media Ranking Better Than Ever!

    We are so happy to have hired Resonance for our social media needs. We spend most of our time serving our clients and studying our field so we can provide the highest quality possible. We no longer worry about our social media, as we have total confidence in the wonderful work Rachel and her team have accomplished.

    Our social media is active, promoted, and is ranking better than ever! People often comment about what they see on our Facebook page. Resonance has added a creative, and artistic twist to our social media that is appealing and captivating to our audience. This has allowed me more time to work with my team and clients, so I can focus on service towards the people that help our business grow.

    I know there will be wonderful content on Facebook, and that Rachel will answer to posts, comments and questions as soon as a comment arrives. I am often impressed at how quickly she responds! Thank you Resonance! I highly endorse Resonance and encourage companies who need social media strategies to work with Resonance! You won’t regret it! 

  • Event Sold Out Two Years In A Row!

    Rachel worked with me on creating a content marketing calendar and content for the Big Social Media Summit (Big SMS) three years in a row. She is very organized and knows just the right amount of posts on social, email newsletters and content to send.  Her content marketing efforts helping us sell out our event three years in a row!  I am expecting the same for October 2014.

    Rachel was hired to write content for our email newsletter and content for our social platforms. In addition, she had a budget to do advertising on social media. She participated in the event live and after the fact to assure buzz was created before, during and after the event. As a result, our event sold out.

    When I work with Rachel, I have total peace of mind.  I know that she is on target, on time, reliable and delivers over and above the results I expect.

    I trust Rachel totally with her ideas on strategy, marketing and the content used to not only promote our events, but also post on my behalf on social networks. I have been doing social media for 8 years, and I hire Resonance to post on some of my social sites as it saves me time, and keeps my social sites relevant and current. They always post great, engaging content that gets my social properties likes, comments and shares.

     

  • Added 5 figures to my business in less than 4 weeks

    Rachel took the overwhelm and stress out of writing content for my marketing campaign! When I approached Rachel, I was really concerned that I wouldn’t have the time to focus on writing copy for a lengthy marketing campaign that included sales pages, solo emails, newsletters and social media updates. Well, let’s just say I’m glad I hired Rachel because I couldn’t have done it without her support and expertise. I loved how she used my voice and words to craft content that helped me reach and attract my ideal client. As a result of working with Rachel, I added 5 figures to my business in less than 4 weeks, hundreds of new social media followers and exceeded my sales and list building goals! You know your marketing copy is working when you hear someone say, “I see you everywhere”. Thank you Rachel for helping me not only get seen by my ideal clients but get paid!

  • Produced ROI Result

    Form.io needed someone who could grasp the complexities of our product, capture the subtlety of our differentiating value propositions, and convey them in the right voice for an exacting customer audience…. Resonance delivered, by crafting a multi-faceted online content marketing strategy that drove traffic and conversion, producing the ROI result we were looking for….

  • Increased our likes and interaction rates

    Working with Rachel was a delight. Not only does she communicate very well, but she provided valuable insight about our social media platforms and followers. We have much better engagement with our fans and followers, which increased our likes and interaction rates.

     

  • Professionalism and Sincere Desire to Help

    I just didn’t seem to be able to find the time or the right words to explain what I offer and how my company helps people accomplish their goals. Rachel was able to ask me some questions, do some research and capture my voice while writing my website copy exactly as I needed it to be written.  Now, the copy on my website is much more professional than what I would have created and having this task handled by Rachel and Resonance freed up my time to complete other tasks I am better suited to do.

    It was a joy to work with Rachel. Her professionalism and sincere desire to help was apparent from the first communication until the final delivery. I will definitely use Resonance again and highly recommend their services.

  • Increased website traffic, New Lead Generation

    We were experiencing a lack of internal resources to consistently maintain the Ustream blog. So we turned to Resonance Content Marketing to write blog posts on current industry topics while maintaining a consistent tone with the brand. The result is increased website traffic, new lead generation from gated assets on blog, and better educated/qualified leads. And I now have more time to spend on marketing strategy with the confidence that the content we push out is extremely well written and engaging.

    Rachel is an amazing writer and has really managed to create engaging and relevant blog material on topics that aren’t always super interesting. On many occasions, she has been able to quickly turn around one-off requests and the results are always top-notch. She has also helped guide our content strategy based on her expertise in content marketing, which has been a huge asset to our team.

  • One of the best “vendor” relationships I’ve ever had.

    My company had little or no time to spend on social media. Our needs were to ensure a steady stream of posts across three platforms (Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter) by harvesting and re-purposing content from our own site and news streams. So I contacted Rachel Parker of Resonance Content Marketing.

    The result was two-fold. Not only did our ranks of followers grew steadily, the steady drip, drip, drip of content helped us train our personnel and direct their own individual social media efforts.

    Rachel and her team are extremely organized and open to discussion and new ideas. They deliver a rapid response to new opportunities — and an overall feeling of being on the same team. One of the best “vendor” relationships I’ve ever had.

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