Four marketing mega trends nobody’s talking about

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By Mark Schaefer

This is the time of year people post their prognostications for the next year. The predictions will be … predictable: More video! More Snapchat! More podcasts!

Well, OK. It’s pretty easy to make a prediction based on what’s already happening. But there are less obvious tectonic forces rumbling through our marketplace. Here’s a view of some of the underlying shifts, the marketing mega trends, you need be considering in 2017:

1. Content Marketing Re-constructed

If you are operating under the idea that what worked in content marketing last year will work this year, it’s time to update the perspective. The world of 2017 will look nothing like the marketing world of 2015. These trends will be forcing dramatic change:

Information density — You have undoubtedly seen the dizzying statistics about the amount of content flooding the web. Finding an unsaturated niche is becoming more difficult and competing in a successful way will be more expensive. That is the fundamental idea behind the concept of Content Shock.

A failure to launch — The 80-80-80 statistics are simply too bad to ignore. About 80 percent of marketers are not satisfied with the value they are receiving from content marketing. 80 percent of the content we publish is never even seen. And yet, 80 percent of all busineses say they are still increasing their budgets for content. That does not seem sustainable, does it?

Right now, marketers are pumping out content because they’re afraid not to. But at some point there has to be a financial reckoning. Probably 2018?

The social media dead-endFacebook, LinkedIn and the others don’t want links any more. They want the content because they want eyeballs dwelling on their site, not yours. This cuts at the heart of the inbound model. Today, content goes in, but nothing comes out.

Bot writingAutomated content is here. If you thought there’s a lot of crap content on the web now, you ain’t seen nothing yet. But over time the quality of automated writing will increase, the costs will continue to drop and within 2-3 years we will have content rivaling anything created by a human, produced nearly for free. The market will be analyzed automatically, populated with content automatically, and monetized automatically. Three years from now, a lot of people in the content marketing business will be out of jobs.

2. The rise of the private networks

For the first time in history, the number of people posting on private networks like Messenger, WhatsApp and Snapchat exceed what is being posted on public social networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

People are tired of putting everything out in public for commentary and criticism. They want to connect in a more private and intimate way. But that poses new challenges for marketers.

First the bad news: All this public social data and engagement is going behind a privacy wall.

Now the good news: A lot of private information that used to be in text messaging is now in the hands of the Facebook overlords. If they decide to share that data with us, marketing will be revolutionized.

This is an enormous shift in how and where people communicate but not a lot of marketers are talking about this yet.

3. The Influence Crunch

In 2012, influence marketing was not much of a thing but I predicted in the book Return On Influence that it would become a mainstream marketing activity. That’s one prediction I got right! The reason behind the trend is simple. Nobody sees ads on TV, the internet, mobile, or traditional publishing like they used to. We are moving toward an ad-free society. Where are marketers going to place their ad spend?

Influencers. You can’t block ’em. You can’t ignore ’em. And they have legions of passionate fans they can activate. What’s not to like?

Here’s the problem. There are only so many influencers to go around. Tying up an influencer for your brand can create an unusual strategic advantage. So we will be facing an influence crunch. Prices will be going up which will finally force companies to think rationally about what they’re doing in this space. One young lady was paid $30,000 for one Snapchat story. Do you think influence marketing is a thing?

The trend toward influence marketing combined with a limited number of effective influencers will provide a crunch for marketers.

4. Content in the cloud

One of the most powerful mantras in this digital space is to never build your house on rented land. Meaning, keep all your content on your website.

Today all content is moving to the cloud. It’s time to give up and surrender to Facebook. They want the content, you’ll have to give them the content. Seriously. It’s time to surrender.

People don’t want to visit your website any more. They don’t even want your app. They want all their information in their newstream. This means we will be optimizing for Facebook — as well as Google  — instead of optimizing for people. Yuck. But that’s the world we live in, so let’s deal with it.

This trend is creating enormous problems for publishers. How do you monetize when Facebook and Apple own your audience?

So those are a few thoughts on the coming year. What’s your view?

Mark Schaefer is the chief blogger for this site, executive director of Schaefer Marketing Solutions, and the author of several best-selling digital marketing books. He is an acclaimed keynote speaker, college educator, and business consultant. The Marketing Companion podcast is among the top business podcasts in the world. Contact Mark to have him speak to your company event or conference soon.

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