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Digital Doughnut Contributor
Digital Doughnut Contributor 11 November 2016

What is the Future of Content Marketing? Threats and Opportunities

What is the future of content marketing? What are the predictions? What threats – and what opportunities – are waiting ahead to be tackled and taken?

The general assumption is that – through the means of increasing brand awareness and establishing user communities – content marketing is soon going to become one of the most important techniques of marketing in general (and online marketing in particular). Though it is not the first such assumption in the history of advertising, there are reasons to believe that this time it is true: that this prediction will, in fact, turn out to be correct.

What are these reasons? What is their importance? Read on to find out!

A New Mean To An Old End... Or Is It?

Some people believe that content marketing is a new mean to achieving an old end. The truth is, however, that there is nothing new to this “new mean,” that – in fact – it has been in use for decades now, with the exact scope and range of its usage impossible to determine. What is new, though, is the actual application. The times are changing – and so is content marketing.

For someone who is not into content marketing, it might sure sound surprising that the technique was in use since the beginning of the printed press. Some trace its beginnings to the first issue of Michelin Guide (1900) or John Deere’s magazine “The Furrow” (1895). As for the term, it has entered the use in 1990’s, though it’s impossible to determine who was the first to use it. That being said, it’s not that important. As of now, it’s one of the most widespread marketing terms, one of these a person has to know.

And no wonder. As of 2014, Forbes Magazine’s contributor J. DeMers had pointed out that “a whopping 93% of B2B marketers now use content marketing as part of their overall marketing plan,” indicating a rapid growth since 2013 (when the percentage was oscillating somewhere around 60). “Marketers are seeing firsthand how social media and content marketing are inextricably linked,” the contributor concludes, “and are understanding the importance of having a content plan: in fact, 44% of B2B marketers now report having a documented content strategy in place.”

The list of the companies keen of using content marketing includes the biggest of the biggest, with Google, Microsoft, Mint.com, RedBull, Yelp, and YouTube leading the stake.

What Lies Ahead?

The future is bright for content marketing. But isn’t the bubble going to burst? Isn’t it a bad sign that there’s no dark cloud on the horizon, no dark cloud whatsoever?

A lot of research has been done that prove that the demand for good content will increase even more. There’s a lot to back it up with – this prediction. If it is a bubble indeed, it is still growing. According to the researchers, its potential is larger than we have thought. With some of the studies stating that the demand for content will grow with the social media, it seems like there’s nothing to be afraid of… for now. The burst of the content marketing bubble – if it’s ever going to happen – will come as a result of the burst of social media’s one.

So. What are the predictions?

  • The demand for content creators will increase. This one needs no explanation.
  • Content creators will become more and more specialized – to the point of becoming a self-taught experts in their field. Sometime soon, it is possible that we will find their content discussed and quoted by academic scholars – as an important input to the academic debates. This specialization will be the result of the growing demand for more detailed, technical content – one that will help users with solving their problems.
  • Companies will spend even more on hiring experts to guest-produce content for them.
  • Based on the current social media trends and other related factors, the demand will be shifting from the written to the graphic and/or video content (and then back to the beginning) repeatedly (as a result of the fact that the market for content is still unstable).
  • Content will become less and less related and dependent on the companies’ actual business niche – and more independent and standalone. It will become more like professional journalism. The examples of such content can be found here: on Starting Things Up or on this blog.
  • The demand for geo-aware, location-specific content marketing is going to increase. (As a result, the content that is going to pop up on Your mobile devices is soon going to become even more relevant to the location You’re in.)
  • Another prediction – one that is actually proving to be true now – is that there’s no mean for companies to automate their content production. What it means is that the demand for content creators is not going to lower. Some companies have tried – and failed – to automate the process of content creation, but, as for now, such goal seems impossible to achieve. Furthermore, one can argue that the drive to automate it is, in fact, nothing more but a result of unrealistic expectations as to what content marketing can look like and do for You. Although some aspects of the process can be automated, others cannot – and that’s how it’s going to stay. At least for now.
  • The list of tools used to deliver content will grow longer. (Content itself will also become more varied.)

These eight predictions are the basics, but there is more. People predict that, as the content marketing develops, it will also spawn numerous connected disciplines. And – since it has already become a topic of academic studies – it is also certain to become a matter of much more widespread debate soon: one that is almost sure to result in additional law regulations to limit the extent of content marketing’s seemingly limitless reach. Which means that it will be more susceptible to various lobbies and other kinds of pressure.

These are both the threats and opportunities waiting ahead of content marketing. The rest is…

Well – it’s up to us.

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