All of us have probably heard the phrase, “content is king” until we are ready to regurgitate. But think about it. What is the Internet other than content? It is where people go for information, to socialize, and to be educated, inspired and entertained.
Perhaps it would be better phrased as, “the Internet is king.” Because it is.
But all things change. And so it goes with content writing. While many of the same “rules” still apply, there are some trends and challenges that stand out for 2018. Which are you ready to embrace?
- Write for Your Audience, Not for Google
Always, always, always, your target audience comes first. Too many content writers are still trying to get in as many keywords as possible and to make them “sound” natural. They take away the relevance of the content, and most online customers recognize the strategy.
“Focus on creating the best content ever – content that engages and solves customers’ problems that entertain and inspire. The rest will flow naturally, even those keywords,” says Jodi Wright, TrustMyPaper senior copy editor.
Remember, Google has many more methods of indexing content than just keywords.
- Experiment with All Forms of Content
While the trend toward video content marketing is sure to remain popular, branch out to other forms too – illustrations, audio files, PowerPoints, graphics, e-books.
One form of content that is sure to have an uptick during 2018 will be AR and VR experiences. Already, clothing and eyeglasses retailers are giving customers the chance to virtually try on items before purchasing them. And other retailers are embedding videos on their labels telling the stories behind their products. There are now tools that make this type of content much easier to create, and content writers should be willing to experiment with them.
- Consider Integrated Approaches
Most content marketers already utilize email, blogs, social media, and video, even ebooks, podcasts, and webinars. Integrating all of these will allow cross-promotion. Thus, a marketer may have developed a white paper and offered it as an incentive for visitors to subscribe to his email list. Making this same offer on social media channels, with an opt-in feature, or incorporating a sign-up form at the end of an article. Add a video and webinar on the same topic and offer white paper as a free gift for attending.
The goal is to make the very most of each topic/piece of content that is created.
- Focus on Context
“What’s in it for me?” is the question that every visitor to every website and every reader/viewer of any content is asking themselves. And if that question is not answered early and satisfactorily, they are gone. Content must be meaningful, relevant, and solve a problem, while at the same time educating, entertaining, or inspiring. A tall order indeed, but with the escalating competition for consumer attention, these things are not optional.
- Mobile First Reigns
Google has already announced that it has now adopted “mobile first” indexing. This has big implications for content, especially now that the majority of searches are now conducted on mobile devices. The question that content writers must ask themselves is, “Is my content mobile friendly?” Am I using less text and more visuals/videos? Is text divided into very small chunks? Being mobile friendly is, of course, a design issue, but it is a content-structure issue too.
Put yourself in the head of a mobile user as you review your content prior to publishing.
- Format Priorities Remain
The same “rules” apply. Have an engaging headline that entices; keep it conversational and simple; keep paragraphs short; divide by sub-headings so readers can “snack;” use vocabulary that is equivalent to a 7th-grade reading level.
Make the beginning amazing. You only have seconds to grab reader/viewer attention.
- Using Analytics to Determine Popularity that Can Be Leveraged
Analytics is a given. Marketers have to know what is working and what is not. When analytics show that a piece of content is popular, turn it immediately into other forms and this includes into ads.
This goes for old content as well. Chances are those who read or viewed content developed a year ago are not the same readers/viewers of today. Resurrect that popular content and re-configure it.
- Getting a Bit Weird
Content does not always have to be serious. In fact, getting a bit weird makes content stand out, and most readers/viewers will appreciate being entertained. Take a look at the explainer video of Dollar Shave Club. It’s hilarious and a bit weird but so effective – 22 million views within a few weeks of its publishing.
- Incorporate News Whenever You Can
Big news items do not escape attention. If a marketer can incorporate them into his content, the interest level will be higher. A couple of years ago, the water crisis in Flint Michigan was huge news. Companies that stepped up to the plate and made donations (e.g., bottled water) or gave other kinds of help were able to leverage these activities in content. Not only did the content garner interest, but those brands endeared themselves to consumers.
This list of nine challenges is by no means comprehensive, but it will keep most content writers focused on what works. And writers should not be afraid to experiment – it’s hard to know exactly what will “strike a chord.