Online content creation shows no signs of slowing down in 2013. Many companies planned to increase spending on content marketing this year, and who can blame them? Content marketing has a long history and, in digital times, cutting-edge significance.
After all, content is the cornerstone of your online presence. It’s the stuff visitors usually flock to the internet to consume, and if it’s created well enough, it will have visitors coming back for more.
Your presence online matters a lot in 2013. Active internet use continues to increase, encompassing huge segments of the population. 67 percent of adult internet users in the United States use social media. (And that figure hops to around 80 percent if you’re counting internet users younger than the age of 50). Even demographics once resistant to the internet are beginning to check email!
Increased interest in content-driven marketing tactics have meant that staggering amounts of online content is being produced, sometimes by companies and individuals that have never tried to be a publisher before.
What will that mean for online content creation throughout the rest of 2013 and beyond? Here are a few of my predictions.
In-depth content with longer word counts
Online, a lot of content creation trends toward brevity. 500-word blog posts.140-character status snippets. Videos under five minutes. Basically, formats that suggest: Get to the point; the visitor is about to leave.
But it turns out people don’t solely want short stuff. On the contrary, in-depth content tends to get more love in the form of links, “likes,” and social shares.
I am not saying writers will avoid succinct writing. Long content can be tight and precise. You just need plenty of substantive material to create it.
I also don’t believe that short content will fall by the wayside. In broad terms, producing fewer words can suit how internet users read, and not all audiences want to read 1,000+ words on a topic.
But overall I do think long-form, thoughtful contributions will be newly appreciated throughout this year and beyond. They will really stand out against all the thin contributions designed primarily to satiate Google’s hunger for fresh content.
Innovative micro content
While short stuff can be a culmination of laziness and haste, other times it’s a flash of carefully consolidated ideas whittled down to their best elements.
There are plenty of platforms designed to show off minimalist flair and some are attracting an audience. For example, more than 100,000 Vine videos were posted last month, which isn’t shabby when you consider the service had only been available for about three weeks.
When you give creative minds boundaries, it’s remarkable what they can create. Just have a look at something like Six Word Stories to see it in action.
I think we’re going to see a lot of interesting developments that appeal to some web users’ desire for snappy content while also revealing deep substance and creativity.
Pushing existing networks to bring in the new
With the web awash in content, it’s more difficult to get noticed, so many content creators will have to use existing platforms in interesting ways.
Take Instagram. Most use it for sharing images. The Plastics, a band from Mexico, went a step further. They applied Instagram filters to a string of snapshots that they then edited together to make a music video.
I predict that this kind of stuff will happen more often in online content creation. People will take existing practices — making a music video, stop motion video, using Instagram — and reconfigure them to create innovate, attention-grabbing things.
Content creation propelled by visitor context
As mobile technology continues to develop, questions about how to present digital content will have to entail Where? just as strongly as Why? And For whom?
We already know that content creators need to focus on essential content when writing for mobile users. But that’s one of those recommendations that’s easier said than done. What is the essential content? And how does the mobile user’s context help define it?
Some contexts are easier than others. For example, if you’re writing for a website that offers grocery coupons, it’s probably a good idea to have a mobile version that makes it really easy for in-the-moment shoppers to access those savings.
But some websites are murkier when it comes to pinpointing where the user may be and how that location affects their mobile experience. Content creators will have to continue perfecting the skill of figuring out that context and using it to establish what secondary content is and how best to defer (or cut) it.
Content that affects visitors in new ways
But it won’t only be mobile users — and their contexts — calling all the shots. Content creators will also have a hand in affecting the way users respond to content. And I’m not just talking about influencing their minds, either.
Take the free app released late last year by Scottish music artist Calvin Harris. It only plays while the listener is moving. The idea is to give people his new album for free, but they have to dance to experience the music.
My prediction is that we’ll see plenty more of those innovations in the future. And it’ll give content creators new tools for reaching out and affecting an audience.
Substantive visual content
Visual content is powerful. Videos attract more traffic, photos get the most “likes” and “shares” on Facebook, and infographics draw backlinks, likes, and tweets.
Understanding its influence, more people are creating visual content online. But that means there is more competition. And when people have tons of visual options to choose from, they’re not going to share stuff that looks like it was slapped together to meet a quota; more likely, they’ll share images that tell a compelling story.
As a result, visual content will have to be substantive and truly eye-catching in order to stand a chance of being shared or liked. Otherwise, it is likely to be shuffled aside.
Despite the fact I’m making predictions, I have to say, somewhat ironically, that I predict content creation will ultimately be guided by its general unpredictability.
After all, things change quickly on the internet. It is at the mercy of the whims of collective online forces around the globe. And the content created for it is not exempt from that force.