Popular culture loves nothing more than to tear down that which it has only just built up. People who analyze business trends are no different, and content has been a hot topic for years. No sooner than I started to see the phrase “content is king” everywhere, I was already hearing whispers that “content is dead.”
So, where does content stand now? And where is it going next?
I’ve been working in various roles in content for seven years. Watching its evolution has felt like watching a time-lapse video of fog moving over the Golden Gate Bridge. It builds slowly, moves fast, and leaves the frame before you know it. The thing is, as inundated as the web is with content nowadays, I don’t believe it’s going to dissipate like a fog. However, it might change form, and I’m curious about what that means for the future of content.
I used to be good at seeing ahead of the curve, which is why it’s been difficult for me to handle this new feeling of uncertainty. At the same time, I know I’m the one to blame for my uncertainty. I can’t see the future of content anymore because I’ve gotten comfortable — I’ve stopped participating.
For example, I never saw Snapchat coming. Not only that, I couldn’t figure out how to use it when I finally did give it a try. I can understand its appeal, but I can’t immerse myself in how it works. The trend simply passed me by — and once you miss one trend, it’s that much harder to understand what it will lead to next.
Because I’ve lost interest in learning about new social media platforms, such as Snapchat, I don’t know where they will go next. That might seem irrelevant, but social media trends are a great predictor of content trends. It’s all about how people prefer to consume information.
In the world of internet marketing, you can’t spot a trend unless you live it. There’s no watching from the bleachers here — you can do that to analyze current trends and see what’s dying out and what’s doing well, but good luck seeing what’s coming next before everyone else does.
I’ve not only just been hanging out in the bleachers in social media, I’ve been doing the same for content. As I’ve changed my professional focus from content marketing to full-time writing, I’ve been doing a lot more content creation than content consumption. I’m adding to the field, but I’m not truly participating in it. Therefore, I don’t have the same bird’s eye view of it that I used to have.
If you want to see where the trends are going, you have to be a part of them. It’s that simple. But us writers tend to prefer to sit back and observe. Some like to jump in the fray — reporters are great at this — but those of us who feel writing to be more of an art than a way to nose out a story tend to keep to ourselves. I fall into the latter camp.
So, I don’t know where content is going next. I’ll never give up the fight for quality content, but I can’t say I understand how it can win and be seen more effectively in the future.
The only way I’ll even get close to finding out is to put myself back in the game I’ve stepped back from over the years — and keep an open mind to ideas and platforms that I don’t initially understand. Maybe then I’ll be able to spot the trend before it comes rather than after it’s already here. In the end, it’s a worthwhile effort if it means finding a way for good, useful, impactful work to rise to the top.