Back in 2013, more than 60% of marketers reported they were creating at least one piece of content every day. Flash forward to 2017, and the internet has become a minefield where content explodes in our faces at every turn.
As marketers, our most valuable currency is attention, and for years we’ve been clawing desperately to gain it from would-be customers on the internet. But what if that effort is at times—dare I say— futile?
In just sixty seconds, millions of Facebook posts, shows, blog posts, and stories surge through the wireless and fiber networks into our homes, offices, ears, and eyeballs. As Mark Schaefer aptly pointed out in 2014, we’re living through an age of content shock; there’s simply more content than is humanly possible to consume.
So what can we do about it?
Incorporate video? Get savvy with interactive content? Build the next Pokemon Go? Maybe.
As we enter a new year, and the web becomes awash with 2018 marketing predictions, we’d like to add a fat, hairy, lofty, shotgun-toting prediction of our own.
The smartest content marketers will realize in 2018 that success will not come in the form of a new tactic. Rather, success or failure in content this year will come from what we don’t do, what we make room for, and what we terminate. Smarter content strategy and planning are paramount.
In the following paragraphs we offer three lessons from The Terminator himself to improve your content marketing this year.
Now, bust out your best Austrian accent and get ready to say, “hasta la vista” to all that marketing crap that doesn’t work for you anymore.
#1: Terminate Bad Projects, Faster
In Terminator 2: Judgement Day, it took The Terminator a full five brutal encounters with the technologically superior T-1000 to finally destroy it. The fallout from these fights and gun battles was intense, to say the least.
Ever sent an email promotion hoping, “third time’s a charm” logic will apply? Or increased your Facebook ad spend in response to low engagement? Or pumped out yet another insanely long blog post in response to low organic search engine ranking?
As marketers, we often need multiple encounters with bad results before we Terminate the tactics that aren’t working. Because hey, something that worked last time around should always be repeated, right? Wrong. Our media landscape is shifting fast. Yesterday’s tactics won’t work tomorrow.
Take a page out of the Terminator’s book; if it doesn’t work, kill it. Don’t put more money behind it. Don’t do more of the same. Kill. It. Now. Ask your audience for feedback, put on your Terminator glasses, and try something else.
#2: Less Really Is More
Shakespeare said it best: “Brevity is the soul of wit.” The Terminator seemingly took this sentiment to heart, as he was a machine of few words. Nonetheless, he got his point across quite effectively.
Perform a few Google searches on the topic of content length, and you’ll quickly realize how hotly this topic is debated. Should every blog post be two-thousand words? Or are we supposed to create content to satisfy the attention span of a goldfish?
Take it from Rand Fishkin, Wizard of Moz, who recently produced a whiteboard friday on the topic titled, “The Perfect Blog Post Length and Publishing Frequency is B?!!$#÷x.”
Your audience is insanely distracted. Entertain, educate, and chill out on all the lengthy content.
It was true in Shakespeare’s time. It was true in 1984. It’s true in 2018. Less is more.
#3: Recognize When You’re The Problem
When The Terminator realized he must be destroyed in order for future generations to be safe from his technology, Sarah Connor reluctantly lowered him into molten lava. With a thumbs up, The Terminator met his end.
In no scenario should you lower yourself into molten lava, professionally or literally. But, as leaders in our industry, we should look in the mirror and get honest about what we see. As our audiences demand new content experiences, our talent, approach, skills, and beliefs must shift too. Don’t get in your own way.
Here are three areas in content that need changing in 2018:
As channels and tactics change at light speed, leaders must be more willing to embrace failure, change, or an evolution in process. If marketing leaders of the past look like an overly confident Don Draper, the leaders of 2018 will appear more like Benedict Cumberbatch from Sherlock Holmes; insanely driven, willing to admit mistakes, and able to trust what the data is telling them.
The traditional writer, blogger, and maker must adapt, or die trying. Far too many content creators are stuck using communication methods and tactics that might have worked five years ago, but show little promise down the line. While you don’t have to become a graphics wizard overnight, embracing the fact that the visual arts may soon overtake the written word is a good first step. Don’t fret. Films need scripts. Design requires a concept or theme. Words still matter.
As more data is available, analytics reporting plays an integral role in content marketing. Numbers gurus of the past spent their time reporting, “here’s what the data means,” but the most successful in 2018 will be prepared to recommend experiments and strategies that show how to influence the data. Understanding how to apply real-time, data-driven insights will be key this year. Marketing data results can do us no good once the campaign is over, after all.
A Final Word: Stay Calm, Robots Aren’t Terminating You
All this Terminator talk might have you worried that machines will one day replace marketers. While AI and robots have made significant advancements, rest assured human marketers are still very much in need, and will be for decades to come. As we desperately try to keep up with algorithms, robots, and AI, remember that the more automation dominates content marketing, the more your oh-so-human creativity will be needed. And isn’t making highly creative, amazing work why we all got into content marketing in the first place?
I believe Sarah Connor said it best: “If a machine can learn the value of human life, maybe we can too.”
For more content marketing tips from Marty McFly and Doc Brown check out Back to the Future: Insights and Tips for Content Strategy, Planning and Measurement.