Blogging has seen quite a ride, hasn’t it?
In the past 20 years or so, it’s gone from online diaries to personal communication tools to marketing machines leveraged by businesses large and small.
Blogs are pretty unrecognizable from what they used to be just five years ago. And five years from now, they’ll have changed again.
With millions of blogs out there, and more being created every day, the blogging space is influenced by more trends and more individuals than ever before. That means new things emerge more often, and trends change more quickly.
Other marketing platforms can pop up and become an instant obsessive craze, only to be totally forgotten in a few months (Ello, anyone?). But blogging stays strong.
Sure, it evolves and adapts to what readers want at the time, but blogging will be part of your content marketing strategy for awhile.
But what exactly will it look like? What’s about to change and what might get left in the dust? Here are a few thoughts from expert content marketers, based on what they’re seeing and doing now.
Both you and your audience will have increasing options
First, both you and your readers have a lot more options than you used to in terms of displaying and consuming information. This is both a blessing and a curse.
On one hand, everyone can get what they want. You can create content and approach topics according to your own strengths and your customers’ needs. Years ago, a blog post without text would be weird. Now there are so many other blogging formats that it’s the norm.
“While I firmly believe in building your own playground at your blog (instead of posting solely to other, un-owned platforms). But I do believe in incorporating different forms of media — video, infographics, audio, and more — on your blog. In a random group of 10 people, I can pretty much guarantee that every other person [prefers to] consumes content in a different way.”
With such a high demand for content, and everyone on your marketing team offering different skills, this gives you the opportunity to get a lot more creative. You’re going to see a lot more brand branching out from traditional text posts to include more video, visuals, and interactive content.
For example, take Crew’s calculator for developers to estimate how much it will cost to build an app:
They could have written a blog post about the costs involved in building an app, and the end result for the audience would have been the same. But that would have been generic and required more work and thinking for the reader.
See the cool stuff teams build when they’re not limited?
But on the other hand, consumers having so many choices means they don’t need your content. Whereas at one point, people would deal with a slow website or poor user experience to get the information they needed, that’s not necessary anymore.
They can get the information elsewhere, so you need to give people a reason to choose you. “These days you need to have valuable and actionable content in order to keep readers coming back. Sites that are stuck in the old format, with tons of ads, distracting sidebars and popup newsletter boxes will continue their trend downward,” says freelance writer and small business consultant Carrie Smith.
Multimedia will become better integrated with written content
Let’s face it: people don’t like to read. And because of everything we just discussed, they don’t really have to anymore.
Right now, a lot of brands’ multimedia content is separate from their blog. They post videos to YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram but never post them on their website. They have a podcast with a separate name and brand. They design engaging graphics just for Instagram and Twitter.
Frankly, those are a bunch of missed opportunities.
But we’re starting to see bloggers and marketers start to use their multimedia content more strategically. Marketers are devoting more and more time to it, and as they do, they’re discovering new ways to use it and integrate it with other channels.
In fact, according to a 2015 Ascend2 study, 43% of marketers think video marketing’s effectiveness is increasing significantly, with 44% saying it’s just increasing marginally. But that’s still an improvement that marketers should celebrate.
A Social Media Examiner report also found that 70% of marketers plan to increase their use of video in the next year. That content isn’t just going to live on YouTube. Think of popular video topics: tutorials, screen shares, interviews. They naturally lend themselves to blog content.
Need more proof multimedia is about to be everywhere? Just look at all the platforms adding video and interactive capabilities.
“Live streaming has already taken the blogosphere by storm, and as Facebook and other platforms increase the capabilities of what we can do with live video, I see it as a really important way to add to and promote what we’re talking about on our blogs,” says Frandina.
Long-form and snackable content reach a better balance
One of the constant challenges of blogging is balancing the needs of real people with that of technology. I don’t think you see a better example of this than with the “long content vs. short content” debate.
In one side of the boxing ring, you have influencers like Neil Patel telling you to publish posts of 3,000 words or more. On the other, you’re seeing shortened attention spans as all the social networks focused on short stuff – 10-second snaps, quick, scannable images – rise faster and faster.
Lately, marketers have been trying to decide which side will win. Thankfully, that’s about to end.
If you’re constantly trying to bang out 3,000-word masterpieces, you quickly realize there’s a point of diminishing return in terms of your time. But when you’re only sharing tiny content, it can take longer to build connections and conversions.
Any marketer who supports one side and one side only will quickly learn that the best content strategies have balance. They’ll alternate in-depth, lengthy pieces with more snackable, broken down topics.
As entrepreneur Sujan Patel explained, “I think we’ll see a shift away from the idea that long-form content is the only kind of content that converts. This idea rose up a few years ago when data showed that it’s shared and backlinked to more frequently, but in my opinion, that was more a correlation than causation (more effort was put into longer articles, which meant they were better).
As we continue to get better at tracking hard-to-measure activities like content marketing, I think we’ll see that shorter, punchy content can be just as effective, and more companies will start trying that.”
Borrowing audiences will win out
Influencer marketing was one of the most popular tactics of 2015 and 2016. But the specific activities have hit a bit of a wall.
For example, if you looked in your inbox right now, how many emails would there be from people asking you to share or link to their new blog post?
The reason influencer marketing works is because it establishes trust and memorability. That’s no longer the case when you’re doing the same thing as everyone else, and the endorsements start to look obviously forced.
The key to adapting to influencer marketing’s tenure is to stand out and do things that haven’t been done. Move beyond expert roundups and AMAs.
A great example of this is Sol Orwell’s way of connecting with new people and getting publicity at the same time.
As influencer marketing expert Jason Quey of The Storyteller Marketer explains, “Sol Orwell built relationships through the #cookielife. He’s built such a raving fan club, he’s got people delivering him cookies. On the surface, this may seem trite. But deep down, he’s building stronger relationships than anyone I’ve seen as he connects on a human level.”
Sol’s tactic may not include a viral blog post or a bunch of high authority backlinks, but it stays true to what the point of influencer marketing really is: trust and relationships.
Repurposing will become essential
Now, this post has talked about lots of new content tactics so far. But the most important change to blogging is that marketers won’t new tactics all the time.
It’s a shame how much great content brands produce that doesn’t get used to its full potential. Only 29% of leading marketers systematically reuse and repurpose content, according to Curata. That’s a sad amount of content lying around on stale web pages.
Instead, marketers are constantly cranking out entirely new pieces, using the information once, and starting the process over again. It’s ineffective, and a waste of time.
Thankfully, more marketers and bloggers will soon realize that.
As they try to juggle their existing blogs with new strategies – adding videos, learning how to podcast, creating content for influencer partnerships, publishing original content for social – they’ll be forced to start making content last longer.
That means transcribing videos into blog posts, embedding social content in new articles, repurposing long-form posts into series of shorter ones, and other ways to make all the research, writing, and producing your team does work harder.
Conclusion: blogging is here to stay, it’s just changing
You’ve just seen five ways blogging is going to look different, and several of those involved content other than blog posts.
Is this more fuel for the “blogging is dead” fire? Of course not.
Blogging is still the most popular content marketing tactic, with 65% of marketers using it according to the B2B content marketing report from LinkedIn Technology Marketing Community.
As new content marketing tactics come and go, it can be easy to get distracted by what’s new and shiny, letting evergreen strategies with more long-term benefits go neglected.
Don’t be a marketer that falls into that trap. Be prepared on how to make new strategies work with your blog instead of as a replacement for it.