The content marketing field is changing. If you’d like me to spell out how, I only need two letters: AI.
The only thing that won’t change is the currency every brand and marketer fights for: attention. Whatever you call your audience — customers, followers, fans, subscribers — attention is what makes the content marketing world go ’round.
With the rapid rise of AI and new content platforms, it’s going to be increasingly difficult to own your audience for two reasons:
I started my content marketing company 13 years ago. Suffice it to say, there’s been a lot of change since then. When I see turbulent times on the horizon, I ask myself two questions:
I’m not pretending to be an enlightened know-it-all or a content marketing Buddha, but I do have some experience-based predictions I’d like to share.
When an overwhelming amount of the world’s (or the internet’s) information is readily available through a program like ChatGPT, the way people find information — any information — will change.
Does this statement light a fire under your butt? It should. Prepare for that change by building your brand (personal or company) like crazy.
How? Better question: where?
Your mind might go straight to social media, and that can definitely play a big role. But social media platforms are changing faster by the year. If you want a reliable audience you can forever send to your page on the latest, hottest social media site, you have to own that audience on one constant platform.
You have to own them on email.
“Wait!” you say. “I have thousands of followers on [insert preferred social media platform here]. Why do I need them to subscribe to my email newsletter?”
The truth is, you don’t own the audiences who follow your social media channels. You rent them. Your Instagram followers are Instagram’s followers first, and as we’ve seen many times throughout the past few years, they can be taken away overnight.
Remember Vine? MySpace? Or, more recently, Facebook making businesses pay to reach existing fans? And, of course, you have all the Google algorithm changes that affect SEO.
No one is immune to a sudden policy change, algorithm update, or platform shutdown — except those with email-based audiences.
I’d argue that a consistent email newsletter is the only place you can truly own an audience. While social media has been turbulent throughout the past 13 years, email has remained consistent. It’s the only platform where we don’t have to pay-to-play for access. Yes, you technically have to pay for email, but you don’t necessarily have to pay for every email you send.
When you own your audience on email, then no matter what happens with social platforms, your newsletter will still reach all those people you worked so hard to connect with.
The downside to email is it’s becoming more and more difficult to get someone’s attention once you reach their inbox. Inboxes are getting more crowded, and attention spans are getting shorter.
As AI enters the picture, owning an audience won’t get any easier. That’s why you need to foster an email-centric band of followers now.
You can’t lose anything by doing this. You can lose everything by not taking action on it.
This change may come as a shock to you, but personality-void, value-void content made solely for the sake of keyword ranking is done for.
Content that’s created solely to rank for keywords, rife with clickbaity titles and empty, bloated text (I’m looking at you, content mills) is going to get what it deserves: poor performance.
With the speed at which the industry is moving, the life of content marketing hacks will be cut in half at best. Effort and energy spent on small, exploitative measures will be less and less worth anyone’s time.
This creates a real opportunity. If you want to keep, engage, and own an audience, you need concise, interesting content that combines not only your knowledge and expertise, but also your personality.
At Fluxe, we firmly believe you can have your cake and eat it too. You can use a single piece of content to rank for targeted keywords and express your brand’s personality. We’ve proven this with the thousands of blog posts we’ve produced for our clients.
Of course, just because our model works today doesn’t mean it’ll work tomorrow — which is why we’re always looking around the bend at what’s next.
In a time of such turbulent change, how do you create interesting content that stays afloat?
Here’s what I’ve discovered: Content that prioritizes the reader will always be perceived as valuable.
Not all content needs to be keyword-focused, but all content needs to position the reader as its top priority. Before you sit down to write a blog post, a LinkedIn newsletter, or an email blast, ask yourself, “What need is this filling? What do I want the reader take away from this?”
Ensure all your content serves your readers’ needs. You aren’t the audience. They are.
According to the Collins English Dictionary, if something is in a state of flux, it’s perpetually changing. Thirteen years ago, this was the perfect name for my new content marketing agency. It’s even more apt today.
The only thing constant about the content marketing world is change. The future is not today. The future is yesterday, and to survive, you need to foster an audience in an untouchable place with valuable, reader-first content.
Does this excite you? Then I’m thrilled. Let’s fill the internet with content audiences actually like reading and businesses actually benefit from.
Joel Widmer is the Founder & CEO of Fluxe Digital Marketing—a content marketing shop that helps smart businesses create, produce and promote their content through a unique one-on-one interview process. When he’s not working, Joel can be found trying new restaurants with his wife, son, and daughter.