So, the funny thing is, I’m pretty sure the term “content marketing” was basically unheard of until around 2012. I checked Google trends, and until that year, it was barely mentioned. The term content marketing seemed to peak in early 2016 and has pretty much stayed up there since.
What is content marketing?
It’s all about using content (information, entertainment, etc) to promote something, usually instead of traditional marketing approaches like advertising.
10 years ago, the main forms of online content marketing were blogs (though these were still realising their potential) and email marketing. It’s pretty safe to say that the field has completely evolved over the last decade. All of the following common methods of content marketing were basically non-existent back then…
I signed up to Facebook fairly early on – about 2008. Although Facebook has been around for about a decade now, the way businesses and brands use it has completely changed. The platform has many more layers of complexity now and a huge array of options for promoting content organically and with advertising.
Instagram did not exist a decade ago. But it is now one of the top social networking sites. Perhaps the most visual-focused platform, Instagram has proven itself powerful for content marketers, particularly with product-based businesses. It's most popular among younger people... like yours truly. The most recent development is Instagram stories. It's sort of like snapchat, where users can upload a series of images/videos/filtered shots that disappear after 24 hours.
Pinterest is also less than a decade old, and now occupies a leading role in the content marketing world. Great for highly visual, product-based businesses, or businesses with attractive graphics and infographics, Pinterest is often an excellent source of traffic for blog posts and product pages. It's sort of like an image-based search engine cross a social network.
Ten years ago, Twitter was a fairly new player and was showing plenty of promise. It offered a way for brands to connect directly with audiences and one another in real time, with short text-based communication. These days, Twitter is still used to reach brands directly or follow local news/events, but isn’t used as widely by individuals or for personal communication. But it's still popular among some, and they've introduced a lot more features to make the platform more engaging, like images, gifs, and video.
Worth a mention, since MySpace was possibly one of the bigger players back in the day… MySpace is officially dead now. For a while, it was a great platform for bands (in particular) to share new music and connect with their fans on a more personal level, but as other social networks became available, users quickly lost interest.
LinkedIn remains a powerful career/work-specific platform. Perhaps the most notable change in the last couple of years is the option for long-form (blog-style) posts on individuals’ profiles to help them stand out from the crowd. I'll be honest. At first, LinkedIn seems a bit dry, stuffy, and boring. Maybe it's the Gen-yer in me. I dunno. But I'm quickly warming up to it... especially since it's a good source of new leads and relationships for my business. If you're in business-to-business... LinkedIn is going to be your top platform - I can almost guarantee it.
There's been an explosion of email marketing platforms over the last 10 years, from the simplest (and cheapest) through to some super complex options suitable for large enterprises. Email remains a content marketing leader, but faces problems like competing with social media for attention. It can be hard to get good open rates with the sheer volume of emails received by your audience. Ensuring high quality, engaging email content that understands the needs of your customers is the best way to get the most from your efforts in 2018.
Shift to Mobile
Of course, all of these changes are combined with the massive switch from desktop and larger computer screens towards tablets and smartphone devices. It's no surprise that very little content marketing has stayed the same.
It sometimes does my head in to think that the industry I work in barely looks the same after just a few years, let alone a decade. Fortunately, my area of greatest focus (blogging) has been quite stable for the most part. People who write quality, consistent blogs have always done well and will continue to do so. Social networks may come and go, but it looks like websites (and blogs on websites) are here to stay.
Get a firm foundation in place for your content marketing
But while their content and format might shift... I'm fairly confident that blogs, emails, and websites are here for the long-haul. So if you haven't already, I implore you to put your efforts into building a strong foundation for your business and content, with a GOOD website, quality blog content, and a growing email list. Don't ignore social media, but don't give it more time and attention than it deserves - at least not until you've got your foundation sorted!
Here’s to creating great (and exciting) content for the next 10 years and beyond… I can’t wait to see what that will look like! No doubt there will be twice as many social networks to keep up to date with, incredible multimedia technologies, and hopefully the ability to get by without sleeping ?.