Content Marketing in 2017: What has changed?

In 2008, entrepreneur and marketing maven Seth Godin declared that content marketing “is all the marketing that’s left”. Since then, inbound forms of marketing have become the sine qua non of any burgeoning business. In pursuit of the elusive SEO, we have become a nation of soft sellers, link-builders and – most pervasively – bloggers.

While it’s certainly true that content is everywhere, this doesn’t detract from its value as a marketing strategy. We merely have to be cleverer about the stuff we put out there.

In a market where every article you publish is lost in a mire of thousands more, how can current creatives make their work stand out from the crowd? There are ways, and those who make use of them will be the masters of 2017.

Stand Out

Got your SEO blinkers on? Everyone loves a backlink or two. But if you can’t answer the following question, you’re not getting the most out of your content creation:

What makes your content different to everything else that’s out there?

We live in a world were hundreds of companies clamour for the same gigs. Good content has a voice and a purpose. It speaks to its clientele and – most importantly – offers something that others don’t.

Offer content, too, that is not inherently copy-able. If a writer at a rival company could dash off a similar article to yours in two hours, your work isn’t being optimised.

Make the most of video…

Video is the future of content marketing. It drives social engagement, provides a visual reference for your business and connects marketers with the Millennial generation. And, with smart phones everywhere, it’s never been easier to get involved.

Whether it’s reviews, appeals or stupid Vines, snuggle up closer to your viewers. Exploit the possibilities of video content.

… or other shareable content

Social engagement is the raison d’être of social media marketers the Western world over. But what about content creators? Though their SEO benefits may be negligible in some cases, shares, likes and clicks remain a powerful asset to any content strategy. After all, the more people who read your content, the more will become familiar with your brand.

What content rules social media? It’s not plain ol’ text, that’s for sure – or even the beloved listicle. Infographics get plenty more attention than the written word, but it doesn’t need to even be that complicated. Set up polls, ask readers questions; you can even utilise the ever-pervasive meme if you’re confident in your Millenial know-how.

The secret to engaging with an audience is speaking in their language – and what is a conversation if it only goes one way?

Get your self-promotion right

Yes, I know: this old chestnut. Everyone hates an article that purports to be a discussion and turns out to be an advertisement; it’s more likely to turn you against a business than towards it. Content marketers have long known better than the self-promotional spiel native to outbound marketing. After all, that’s what makes their content a soft rather than hard sell.

Instead of flogging your company ‘subtly’ (read: very obviously) in the middle of a piece of content, keep things simple. Follow up your content with a direct call to action. This could be an invite to participate in the discussion via comment, or a simple: “Come to our site for more!” But make it clear, make it punchy and, most of all, make it inviting. Just like all that stellar content you’re producing!

Will 2017 be the death of content marketing? Not by a long shot. But the internet is moving on; soon, blogging won’t be enough. Business leaders who want to optimise their content marketing would do well to keep up.

This guest post was produced by Inspiring Interns, a graduate recruitment agency which specialises in sourcing candidates for marketing internship roles and giving out graduate careers advice.