Predictable. Not a word I’d use to describe 2016, but I managed to nail a few content predictions last year. (Humble. Not a word I’d use to describe that last sentence.) In particular, I witnessed growing interest in content intelligence and analysis, bridging silos with user journeys, and dynamic personalization at complex companies. And though they haven’t necessarily stated this, I personally attribute the growing success of Capital One’s content strategy and design team to a collaborative content vision.
What about next year? Pour a little Jameson in your pumpkin spice coffee, kick back, and pontificate on these ideas.
With the demand for dynamic, personalized content intensifying, organizations will face more pressure to offer the right content for the right person, exasperating their content capacity gaps.
Many analysts tout the benefits of personalization
Now, the content marketing community says that if you can’t commit to doing content well, don’t do content at all. That’s a nice sentiment, but the reality is companies do not have a choice about whether to do content. Why? Because content covers much more than marketing. As every business function goes digital, content does those functions—sales, service, support, public relations, human resources, and much more. Content has many important jobs to do. If your organization is just dabbling in content, it will miss a big opportunity—and possibly feel a lot of pain—in 2017.
To assess your company’s level of content maturity and, consequently, understand the potential capacity gaps, don’t miss these resources:
Fake news. Enough said.
The Denver Post felt it must point out that the Denver Guardian doesn’t exist since so many people had shared a fake news story from the Denver Guardian
But I’ll say a little more.
Earlier this spring, I caught a fascinating and scary presentation by Jeffrey Grant, Senior Vice President of Research at TBS, about dealing with disruption and the young media consumer. He explored the differences between millennials and plurals. I summarize the differences drawing on his research and my experience like this:
At the time, I felt a wave of excitement and concern when I saw that plurals care less about the content source. The upside? Organizations with a longstanding history or reputation will no longer be able to coast on that credibility. Those organizations will be accountable for offering relevant, meaningful content if they want to reach plurals. The downside? Being duped by fake news.
So, 2017 will bring a serious reality check not only about credible news but credibility for other kinds of content, too. We’re already seeing a well-deserved backlash against content discovery tools such as Outbrain, which for a variety of reasons tend to favor clickbait over substantive content. Even Upworthy, which applied sensationalism to deep topics with controversial success, has started to move away from manipulative techniques.
Speaking of content intelligence, in 2017 I predict we will see three specialties emerge. These specialties will work toward better understanding content consumption and content perception—what people do with and think about content—so we can make more informed content decisions.
The need to understand content consumption and perception will drive new specializations
This content intelligence focus is all about understanding the voice of your user or customer about your content. Wouldn’t it be nice to know answers to questions like these…
This content intelligence specialization goes beyond whether people visit a page, add to cart, share a link, or download a file. Content microengagement analytics explore answers to questions such as:
If you guessed this area of focus brings big data together with content data to drive personalized, relevant content, you guessed correctly. Marketing will drive much interest in big content, but I see it as useful for every business function. Though Gartner actually started talking about big content in 2015, 2017 is when we’ll see this specialization catch on.
These specializations are great news for those of us who embrace data-informed content decisions. I personally can’t wait to see what insights we gain from these additions to content intelligence.
I recently reviewed the fundamentals of auditing with an eager group at our Content Strategy Essentials workshop, and that rekindled my enthusiasm for the content audit. Even the most well-intentioned companies and organizations can find themselves with an unwieldy proliferation of content assets that:
I see this as an intense need for organizations in 2017 who started content marketing a few years ago. Need inspiration? Don’t miss these two articles:
Another driver for this prediction? More companies will be changing their content technology or platform and, consequently, have to migrate their content. Smart organizations will not do the “lift and shift” approach, where you mindlessly migrate the good, bad, and everything in between into your new content management system. Smart companies will audit their content first and migrate only the good.
Auditing is a great fix when your content assets seem to have multiplied faster than gremlins in water. But how do you prevent the problem from happening again? One key is automation.
(One day I will do a study of how many content strategists have at least one parent who was an engineer. My hypothesis is A LOT.)
Content automation is key to executing many of the above predictions. For example, after you audit your content and get rid of outdated assets, you might wonder how you can prevent outdated content from proliferating like gremlins in water. One way is to automate archiving your content based on criteria such as date published. In content management speak, that means defining the lifecycle of your content and telling the system when to consider the content expired.
Automation also is essential to predictions 1 and 2. And, the Internet of Things makes delivering content to refrigerators, bathrooms, glasses, watches, and more possible, further intensifying the need for content automation. Now when it comes to the question of how, I’m not a DITA diva; I see a variety of ways to automate content delivery and even creation. But two elements are key to success: metadata and modeling. Learn more with:
When it comes to content, 2017 will be anything but boring. I promise to engage with you even more next year in sharing the lessons Content Science is learning here in this magazine, at our workshops and training, and at conferences and events around the world. And I invite you to contribute your lessons learned.
To your content success in the new year!
Share your content predictions and ask questions on Twitter with #ContentScience.
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