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The folks at writtent were kind enough to include me when assembling their post, “25 Experts Share Top 3 Content Marketing Trends for 2017.”

If you would like to go straight to my incredible content marketing predictions, be my guest!

If, on the other hand, you would prefer a thoughtful synopsis of what the 25 experts had to say, read on!

Quality Trumps Quantity

Being given to cynicism from time to time, I predicted that crappy content would continue to pollute the highways and byways of the internet. Being more high-minded than me, many other experts predicted the rise of high quality content. As John Jantsch put it, “Longer, more in-depth content is the bar for entry now.”

The need for higher quality content will put a premium on high quality content creation. Many see things going in this direction with Joel Klettke calling it a “seller’s market” for capable content creators and Adrian Cordiner predicting higher rates for them. For his part, Chad Pollitt believes that content marketers will have their budgets grow and this will result in more competition between “agencies and publishers’s content studios.”

As a long-time content creator (and finding myself currently employed by one), this is music to my ears. At the same time, I’m skeptical. Content has never been a big money game (outside of Hollywood) and Kohlben Vodden points to the rise of AI journalism to suggest that at least some content in the near future will be generated not by venerable old humanists such as myself, but by bots.

Video, Rich Media, and VR

As one might expect, many of the experts were bullish on video. Indeed, Guy Kawasaki’s “three” trends were simply, “Live video, live video, and live video.” Donna Moritz, too, sees live video’s star rising.

Placing video in a broader media landscape, a number of the other experts predict the rise of “interactive content,” which Aaron Agius describes as, “Professionally designed and developed content that enables readers to choose different paths…” Others, such as Glen Gilmore, tells marketers to prepare to “dive into the rabbit hole of augmented (AR) and virtual reality (VR).”

Interestingly, Andrew Davis predicts that as video and visual content more broadly continue to gain in importance, “Social Media will be split into 2 areas, the visual web and the community focused web.”

In the same vein, Hana Abaza, says that there will be a greater emphasis in the future, not just on the content itself, but on the content experience. This may come in the form of “compelling content experiences,” as she writes, or in the form of things like events, as Andy Crestodina suggests.

Getting Niche-y

Finally, it turns out that I was not the only one who saw content getting more focused on specific communities or niches. Chris Garrett writes, for example, of going in a direction where he is “promoting to specific audiences for each piece of content, rather than try[ing] to find people who are interested in everything I write about.”

Similarly, Michael Brenner writes of the need for brands to “define a topic or niche that they can own – one that truly reflects their unique expertise and reason for being.” Adrian Corbinder even goes so far as to say that focusing on a specific niche will be the only way for smaller brands to survive in a world of bigger brands with bigger budgets .

Of course, the logical conclusion of going after a particular niche is personalization – that is, producing content that is intended for and tailored to an individual “niche of one.” This is tied to the increased ability to target content to individuals based on behaviors and preferences as well as the increasing potential for content that is dynamically (even machinically) generated. Brenner and others see growing personalization for content marketing in 2017

Final Thought: Is Content Marketing about Content or Marketing?

It was interesting to read the trends and predictions assembled by writtent, and I certainly look forward to the next generation of high quality, immersive content put out by evermore in-demand content creators.

Still, I keep coming back to the third trend that I identified: That it’s not really about the content.

Let’s face it, unless you sell content, content is purely “functionalized” – it must serve some purpose other than the content consumer’s enjoyment. This places an upward limit on the quality of any content that people produce and also tends to reduce content to its function (lead gen, for example).

As soon as that happens, commoditization wsets in, and with it, optimization, and even the total dehumanization of content (as the robots take over like Kohlben foresees).

Am I just being pessimistic?

Or am I just too idealistic when it comes to content?

What do you think?

Image Source (Creative Commons): mache.

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