That the ecosystem of content is built on shifting sands is an understatement.
Just the last 30 days saw five major changes in how the world’s largest social network operates.
- Our default go-to for any sort of information – Google – has updated their algorithm nearly 100 times over the past five years.
- Apple launches a new version of its iOS operating system nearly once a month.
This means that any marketer engaged in promoting their business on Facebook, Google or on the App Store has had no chance to stop for even a short breath.
The relentless pace at which the demands of content ecosystems have been growing mean that watching for new developments and making adjustments for them are de rigueur components of a content marketer’s job.
These reforms in content strategy are not simply to keep up appearances, obviously. There are a host of reasons why continuous metamorphosis of content forms makes perfectly good sense, including the following.
Organically growing search rankings and search traffic
The regular search algorithm updates and tweaks made by Google and company mean that even the most complacent content marketer needs to revise the style of their content to match changing guidelines.
From dropping exact match domain names to avoiding inbound links from low authority sites, from removing duplicate content on your site to cleaning up your presence on local directories and listings, there are a million and one things that determine how high your site and content ranks on Google.
Better rankings mean more referral traffic from organic search. Win!
Managing organic social media engagement rates
The last couple of years have seen social media engagement rates take a sharp nosedive.
Besides the push from social networks across the board for businesses to pay to reach their fans and followers, the changes that are constantly made to users’ timelines and feeds mean that businesses have to tweak the type of posts they put up on social media to be even spotted by their fans occasionally.
This is where social media monitoring and management suites come in handy.
Oktopost is one such tool that can help you keep a watch on industry conversations in real time and get a better understanding of what drives your customers.
Oktopost also has a recommendation engine that can suggest types of content for you to share based on historic engagement and conversion rates.
By integrating your social media activity with CRM platforms like Salesforce, enterprise businesses are no longer at the mercy of changing social media rules.
Businesses can now engage one on one with users on other platforms like email using the insights that they gain from social media.
Establishing and maintaining credibility
Imagine a high schooler showing up to class sporting a mullet and a varsity jacket. So unbearably 1980s, right?
Well, just as no high school kid would be caught dead in fashion that is not on the bleeding edge, make sure you’re not spouting yesterday’s style with content and strategy.
A website that sports contemporary styling and offers content that speaks to your users’ current problems hits the right notes and will attract more viewers.
Offering content that your audience values builds your reputation and helps position your business far above your competition.
Keeping up with the Joneses
Finally, however much we may want to deny it, being flexible with one’s content strategy is also about appearances.
When your competition is flexing its digital muscle by offering users content in the forms they appreciate most, on the channels and platforms that they’re flocking to, you risk getting left behind if you don’t adapt quickly as well.
Consider it as a necessary rite of passage and get on with that long overdue content makeover.
Now that we have a handle on how critical it is to have a flexible content marketing strategy, it’s probably a good idea to look at what changes to expect in the year ahead and how we can gear up for them.
Mobile will continue to dominate
2014 was the year mobile finally overtook desktop browsing as the primary means of internet access worldwide.
2015 was when Google unleashed its Mobilegeddon update in response to this fact.
2016 will see businesses falling in line with the diktats of Google and not just building mobile optimized websites, but also developing content that is mobile first.
This includes using responsive images in content marketing, creating mobile friendly forms, using larger fonts, being generous with white space, and avoiding Flash and focusing on HTML5 instead for each piece of content created.
Video will become more important
We saw the beginnings of a video revolution in 2015.
Apps like Periscope and Meerkat took social media by storm and suddenly there was a glut of video content – real-time, user-generated as well as brand driven.
This trend will step up in the year ahead.
With Instagram’s new Vine-like video app Boomerang, Facebook’s new tweaks to video content and YouTube going paid with YouTube Red, the video content scene is where all the action will be.
Personalization will take center stage
For the last few years, we’ve been hearing about how vital personalization is and how deeply it can impact a potential sale.
Unfortunately, we still haven’t seen the needle move in terms of actual adoption of personalized content by businesses.
Over 70% of brands fail to personalize even that simplest of platforms – email. Some major reasons for this shortcoming are the difficulties of harvesting targeted lists, creating accurate user profiles and segments across devices, and connecting with them by applying actionable information mined from the data overload that businesses are crushed under.
However, 2016 will see all of that change.
Big data is now not so big and scary anymore.
With features like User ID in Google Analytics, it is now possible to track individual users across multiple devices and channels.
The data from this feature can inform new marketing decisions that can target individual behaviors and extract the maximum bang for each buck spent.
Social media will be more ROI driven
So far, we were happy engaging with our fans and followers on social media.
For many businesses, this engagement and conversation became an end in itself. However, a large majority of for-profit brands have struggled to show the impact of all that social media engagement on bottom line numbers.
This struggle combined with a steady push towards commercialization by social networks themselves means that the balance of paid vs. organic content will now tilt to the former.
Businesses realize that paid ads on social media offer them a level of granular customer data that no other platform can match.
The results are further proof that social advertising works.
Another development that brands need to gear up for in the times ahead is selling directly on social media. Instead of creating content to drive traffic back to one’s website, businesses can now entice buyers to seal the deal on social media itself.
To Sum Up
Jack Welch famously said, “Change before you have to.”
If nothing else, keep that in mind when you work on your content strategy today, and you’ll be alright.
What changes are you facing with your content marketing strategy? Share with us in the comments below!
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