It’s 2017 and content marketing is maturing. No longer is it something to dabble in. For many organisations it has become the main game: the way they win new work, reinforce their brand and show off both their expertise and how they can improve their customers or clients’ lives.

So what can we expect from content marketing in 2017? Here are some of Antelope Media’s predictions based on what we’re seeing in industries like financial services, professional services and real estate.

1. The quality of content marketing will improve

In the last couple of years pretty much every business has jumped on the content marketing bandwagon. For some, it hasn’t really mattered what they were saying, or how they were saying it. Just saying anything was enough.

That’s all changing. There’s so much content out there that people are switching off. And that means those businesses who haven’t really bothered to do it right, or develop a content strategy, are starting to notice they’re getting a very poor return on their investment.

So here’s our prediction: 2017 will see the decline of the fluff piece, the cliched quote post, the pointless infographic and the article that says what everyone else says – only worse.  Instead, more and more businesses will lift their game and start producing quality content that actually provides something of value to readers.

Businesses will invest properly in content strategy, not just content.

And while we wish we could also say this will be the end of the cat pictures, unfortunately they’re probably here to stay…

2. Content will become more in depth and longer

When content marketing first became de rigeur the general consensus was that people’s attention spans were declining. This is the era of Twitter’s 140 characters after all. Surely no one reads any article longer than 500 words anymore?

Well, it turns out they do – especially if they’re engaged.

We’re all for brevity but sometimes there’s a place for detail in content marketing – especially when you’re speaking with authority on a topic your audience wants to hear about. And that becomes more important still when the product or service you’re selling is a serious investment. That’s why we find we’re now producing as many feature articles, ebooks and other complex pieces of content for businesses as we are short articles.

3. Content marketing data will be taken seriously

Effective data has always been central to effective content marketing. You can’t hope to refine and improve what you’re doing unless you know who’s reading, what they’re reading, how they’re reading and where they’re coming from. But it’s patently obvious that many businesses – some of them big ones – haven’t really been using and acting on this information, even though it’s easily (and often freely) available.

While there should always be room for creativity, those who just jump in and just post on a gut feel or a whim will increasingly find themselves being left behind by others who are taking data more seriously.  

So we predict 2017 will be the year when data becomes a more integral and critical part of the content creation journey.

4. LinkedIn publishing will continue to fade

Given that much of our content is in the B2B space, LinkedIn has been our very close friend. But it’s hard not to think it’s become something of a frenemy.

There was a time when you could rely on LinkedIn Pulse for interesting, topical and relevant reads. One look at your LinkedIn feed shows that’s no longer the case.

So long as LinkedIn publishing continues to be a rambly, disparate feed – and so long as it encourages people to post half-formed thoughts, spam, property alerts, plagiarised pieces and other guff – it will continue to become less and less useful and relevant as a content marketing tool. Something’s got to give.

5. Automated content marketing will take off

Remember in the early days when we were told content marketing would democratise marketing? That, so long as you had something valuable to say, so long as you could give readers what they want, you had the same chance to capture attention and your voice was equally valid – not matter whether you were a multinational or a one man band? Hmmm….

It’s a lovely thought, if only it were true.

Content marketing requires a substantial investment in time, money and resources. It’s not something you can do half-heartedly. And the reality is that many SMEs simply don’t have enough of these three things to be able to compete. That’s where automation will step in… Giving small businesses access to the same type of quality content, as well as the distribution and the strategy of bigger players but without the cost…

In fact, we’re so convinced of this trend that we’re putting our money where our mouth is and will be releasing our own automated content platform this year. But more on that later.

And that’s it…

Five trends that will believe will impact on content marketing this year. What do you think?

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