Q: What is the future of content marketing?
A: More often than not, when I’m in New York City, journalists complain about the overwhelming amount of content they need to produce each day. Whether it is to feed their social-media channels or website, it’s a burden to produce the volume needed to satisfy the click-throughs to get the biggest slice of the advertising dollars that propel that industry forward.
In business the need to create “cool” content, likewise, employs lots of expensive marketers who produce a huge amount of content in the hope of getting one piece that will "go viral."
Content marketing is unsustainable and will require a cultural shift and a corporate structure change to make it sustainable. The future of content marketing is high quality content created by people who are not employed within companies. The future of content marketing, I write in my book and am adamant about, is influencer marketing.
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Brands, in a study by LinkedIn, claimed they have five big content marketing challenges:
- Lack of time and bandwidth (51%)
- Producing enough variety in content (50%)
- Producing engaging content (42%)
- Measuring effectiveness (38%)
- Developing consistent content (34%)
There’s only going to be one response: We need to make less click-bait content and more high quality content. We need to learn to tell fewer stories but to tell them better. Doing so will ensure they are impactful when they happen. Finally, we need to turn to content creators to generate these stories.
Right now there are hundreds of thousands of professional content creators online who are looking to make money. These social-media influencers have built followings out of their ability to create content. Businesses are paying them to post about the business in one-off transactional engagements. The one-off model isn’t working for anyone: Businesses are unsatisfied with the majority of the results and influencers are constantly having to hustle to manage their business and create compelling content.
The future of content marketing is going to require a change in these transactional relationships. Doing so will improve both business content performance success and social media influencers financial well-being and curatorial focus. Here’s how you can get ahead of the curve:
Acknowledge you are not the world’s greatest content maker.
Your company is likely producing bad or ineffective content on most of its channels. The people running your content development teams are not natural content creators. They are marketers and your brand is not interesting enough to have a 24/7 news cycle.
Realize there are great content creators out there.
There are millions of social-media influencers who are great content creators for your niche audience. Hire five to seven of them to sit on a virtual team for your brand. Look on Trackr or Klout to see who is considered influenctial in your market. Educate them on your brand consistently: invite them to meetings, share your latest products, allow them to meet your executives.
Pay them a base salary and ask for RFPs.
Pay them a base salary, so that they will be constantly thinking about how to improve your brand and tell your story online. Tell them that you want to see two request for proposal (RFP) from them a year on creative ideas to differentiate your brand on the web. Remember, they are the experts and constantly online.
Trust them to be your content creators.
Accept their RFPs and believe in their ability to execute on your businesses content needs. If you have trained them the right way and given them the right access, they will be experts on your brand but at half the cost of an in-house team and with twice the experience. Worried that they don’t know how to translate business goals to content creation? You can teach them that too.
This is the future model:
- Brands create less content.
- Brands trust natural and proven content creators to act on their behalf.
- Brands pay them on retainer.
- Influencers rep only a limited number of brands because they can now afford to do so.
- Brands reduce their social media footprint and instead rely on ambassador/content creator influencers to push their stories.
If we don’t make this change, we will continue to inundate the world with dumbed down content that does not deliver in the way our businesses need. Instead, we need to create a new model of content marketing that demonstrates real ROI.