Have you noticed how every. single. article about “marketing trends in 2017” says the exact same thing?
And that the message is: “In 2017, expect more of the same.”
- “People will choose visual media over text-based media.”
- “Millennials will…” fill in the blank with one of their absolutely horrifying consumption habits (sarcasm)
- “People will be increasingly overwhelmed with the amount of content.”
- “People will only tighten their death grip on their mobile devices.”
My reaction is always: “Really…more than they do now? Is that possible?”
Rant over, time for my very real forecasted marketing trends in 2017. We’re going to count these down like it’s Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve.
#5: Content marketers will keep creating empty-calorie pieces of content
Let’s get this one out of the way and get to the good stuff ASAP.
In 2017 expect more content that breaks no new ground. Really. An utterly depressing yet admittedly eye-opening article on BuzzSumo argues convincingly that the future of content is more content and that quality is not important. So here’s what we can expect more of:
- Podcast interviews where the guests compliment each other more than they discuss anything meaningful in depth
- Blog posts that astound us with astonishing claims that brands should be human on social media and that being helpful is the new marketing
- Infographics with dizzying statistics that you can’t actually verfiy
But take heart..
#4: People will keep calling bullsh*t on empty content and read less of it #stopclickbait
Because one of our clients is an IKEA kitchen design agency, I read a lot about IKEA and a lot about kitchens. So for the past 4 years I’ve read The Kitchn on the regular and I can tell you they run a lot of “Change your dinner game with this one magical ingredient” kinds of posts. Just tell me the ingredient so I can figure out if I want to read your article!
I have a perverse fascination with social media comments and how terrible they are so I’d been reading them anyway. I discovered: people hate clickbait and are actively undermining it the comments section.
#stopclickbait is something I agree with as a human and something I wrestle with as a marketer.
As a marketer, it’s hard not to write it. As a marketer, I want to rouse your curiosity so you read my post. Which sounds pathetic but on the other hand if I didn't think it was worth reading, I wouldn't have written it.
Side note: I sound like one of those “nice guys” who's upset the ladies don't pay attention to him. Am I the “nice guy” of content marketing? Do I need to buy a fedora now?
But as a human, I feel bombarded by those grabs for attention. As a human I believe:
- You have to earn my attention and keep it.
- Merely piquing my curiosity is not enough to get my attention.
- I’m no more of a prima donna than anyone else; I’m just busy and I’m on an attention diet where I don’t want to use up my calories on empty content.
Walking the talk – but is it worth it?
I'm trying to walk the talk: be the kind of marketer that I, as a human, would not stab. So what does that look like? With a Facebook post – sorry for my laser-like elderly focus on Facebook – we all have access to the same tools inside a post:
- Title of the content piece
- Meta-description (but not on mobile)
The right words in the headline combined with the right ones in the title + the right image = you'll pique curiosity and give your reader enough to know what they're getting so they want to click through for more.
(I guess I’m like 1960s Batman over here, handing down lessons to the criminals I’m taking down.)
However, the BuzzSumo article talks about how business success lies in more content, quality be damned. Lowering production costs for this content is paramount. Which means, am I thought-leading myself out of a job?
I don’t think so. The metric for success used in the article is social media shares, not revenue. Social media shares are a good indication of Awareness, the first step in any buyer journey. Businesses that can fill up the top of their marketing funnel with Awareness are doing the right thing however it’s only the first step in a sales process kind of like baby sea turtles making their way to the ocean: some make it, but most get eaten by alligators.
#3: Content marketers will discover gearing their content strategy toward newbies is a mistake
By the end of 2017 the smelling salts being shoved under the noses of content marketers will wake up 30 percent of us. We’ll know where we’ve been screwing up. Or as my fellow Swedes might say, du har skit i det blå skåpet!
We’re taking the easy route of creating content for beginners, always.
All that sameness I complained about? It’s the result of all us teaching the 101 course and not moving up into the 300 or 400 levels.
Content marketers who want to be relevant need to stop writing for newbies. The newbies are covered, I think. Write for those of us who want to level up.
Albeit they’re in my niche. What about your niche? Are you offering the 101 “The 5 Steps to Organizing Your Closet” or the 301 “Step-by-Step Instructions for Installing a Pull-Out Shoe Rack that Keeps Your Louboutins Scratch-Free” ?
Don't just call it 301. Your content has to BE 301 in 2017
On Tuesday I was trying in vain, yet again, to find an app that would batch resize photos on my laptop.
I stumbled on this article and discovered that the words I needed were compression (duh, right?) and lossless. Better yet, the author had tested the different options and reviewed them. Hallelujah! Just what I needed!
Using my new search terms I found a Mashable article I foolishly believed would be better. Nope. It in no way helped me weigh my options. Let’s compare, shall we?
Mashable had this to say about ImageOptim:
Whereas Creative Bloq had this to say:
Creative Bloq’s thoroughness is what content marketers need to get on board with, now. This is what their content did that Mashable most definitely did not:
- Told me it wouldn't work for me. It’s only for Macs. I’m a Windows user. The way Mashable words it, I’d think that I can use this app just not that one feature.
- Put in terms I could understand. “It cuts file sizes…but at least you don’t have to worry about any loss in image quality.” That’s exactly what I need out of my compression app, dogg! Instead Mashable says “it optimizes images by blah blah blah.” Yes, I’m a newbie who doesn’t understand what “unnecessary color profiles are” and didn’t I just say we should stop writing for newbies? I sure did. Which leads me to the next point…
- Actually tried the product themselves. “The end results were…” Author Mike Williams went far enough to try this out for me to tell me how well it would perform. Even if I was some digital photo pro, I’m confident I’d appreciate the honest review over the morning attendance list from the Image Compression Apps Homeroom.
It’s not lost on me that Mashable is probably more financially successful than Creative Bloq just based on name recognition alone
I mean, I went straight for that article based on the name.
So maybe Mashable’s content sucks, but their strategy is good and they’re making money so who cares?
Maybe not. Mashable laid off 30 people in March of last year and, more damningly:
More on Mashable layoffs: In meeting, Mashable exec says site is “moving away from harder news” and toward an “entertaining digital culture”
— Dylan Byers (@DylanByers) April 7, 2016
Translation: Mashable is now in the business of emulating Buzzfeed. No wonder that article was so unhelpful.
#2: Millennials are going to save us all – really – because they hate advertising so much
I’m outspoken about my support of millennials AKA the most complained-about generation.
Millennials really hate advertising. We all hate it, but millennials are actually doing something about it.* They’re voting with their feet and opting out of social networks like Facebook that just relentlessly advertise toward them. They’re moving toward closed social networks (Snapchat etc) where they can ‘be’ with their friends without someone trying to sell them mouthwash.
I’ve been fascinated with how this is tipping our culture. Network television exists because of advertising; now people know they can get information elsewhere, or binge shows on Hulu. How will networks be profitable if they can’t demonstrate a meaningful ROI to their advertisers?
Part of the solution has been more ads which is so heinous. Two years ago I was watching some horrible kids’ show with my stepson and we counted 15 ads during a commercial break. FIFTEEN. That level of interruption appalls me. Didn’t any of them read Seth Godin? I never!
*Granted, this revolution started with TiVo, whose founders were born in the 50s. I'd still like to credit my generation for driving the mass adoption of this wonderful technology.
The other solution is everyone is trying to be Geico: weird, entertaining, shocking, expensive. It’s like it’s the #BrandBowl all the time. Yes some of them are entertaining. But did I buy? NOPE.
I see 2 very different impacts of the ‘don’t market to me, bro’ mindset
- The financial and technical barriers to escaping advertising could be insurmountable for many. I’m tempted to say there will be a class divide: those who can afford to pay for the services (Netflix streaming subscription, Amazon Prime) and hardware (Roku box, Apple TV) you need to escape the network and cable ad deluge. You have to know how to set up your television with a Roku so you can stream Netflix shows or Hulu. And, you have to be willing to give up ESPN as my husband discovered. Advertising has always been affected by its viewership. How will this drastic shift in eyeball availability change advertiser strategy? I’m interested.
- Millennials are forcing advertisers to up their game. TV ads are, as I said, increasing in number and wackiness in order to get our attention. Millennials created Facebook and then ditched it for many reasons one of which was “all these brands joined and it started to suck.” What I’ve noticed about millennial entrepreneurs who advertise on Facebook is that they understand all of the trends I’ve written about here work together. I’m just going to leave this NERD skincare ad here and see if you can piece together how all of it works. (Don't be fooled by the view count. On Facebook this video has been viewed 11 million times).
#1: Elon Musk will suddenly remember what the people want are flying cars, not self-driving cars, and he’ll come out with a prototype by 4Q17
I don’t want a self-driving car; if i did, I could just take the bus. What I want is a flying car. Ideally powered by a renewable energy source. C’mon Elon, make it happen for me.