3 Trends, 3 Ideas and 3 Predictions for 2022

You heard it here first: Stay ahead of the conversations we expect will shape an exciting year in content, creativity and business.

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We’re already a month into the year, but better late than never when it comes to content marketing trends, ideas and predictions, right? These are mine. Subscribe to The Spark, our newsletter, and follow us on LinkedIn to join in these conversations and more throughout the year.

3 Predictions for 2022

1. One big celebrity will launch their own cryptocurrency.

I believe that LeBron, T Swift and Beyonce are all looking very hard at crypto right now. Stars at that echelon are at the center of entire economies, from live events to merch to content (both owned and user-generated). The best way to monetize those financial ecosystems is to own the currency as well. As long as it’s legal (and it should be, if the celebrity’s enterprise accepts USD as well), then I expect SwiftCoin to arrive in a crypto wallet near you this year.

2. Meta will make a bid for Roblox.

This one seems like a layup, given that Microsoft is trying to acquire Activision. If Zuckerberg wants to be the king of the metaverse, he better buy an actual metaverse. Roblox looks like the cream of the crop right now, and it’s all the rage with Facebook’s favorite demographic: kids!

3. An AI will write a story.

If that was a layup, this is my half-court shot at the buzzer. The narrative (no pun intended) right now around AI seems to be: “Sure, it can write a basic financial article covering a stock’s movement over a given time period, but it can’t write a novel.” I’m betting that one day an AI will write a novel. I’m throwing one up and saying it happens this year.  

Content Marketing Ideas for 2022

1. Glance at the competition; don’t obsess over them.

An analysis of what your biggest competitors are doing can certainly inform your content strategy and reveal new content opportunities. However, it can be taken too far. I’ve seen companies that can’t so much as write a tweet before checking to see if it’s already been said by a competitor. My recommendation: Relax. Competitors are like bears. They’re often more scared of you than you are of them.

2. Create, measure and adapt; avoid strategy paralysis.

Data is great, but remember that it’s always looking backward in time. The best campaigns usually come from a hunch and great idea. So don’t let data hold you back from creating amazing, one-of-a-kind content. Instead, use data to measure the impact of those campaigns. Those signals can help you decide what to do more of, what to do less of and what to optimize and repurpose.

3. Add metrics within your control to your KPI list.

When we think of key performance indicators, it’s usually assumed that the performance part relates to our content and campaigns. But what about you and your team’s performance? We can measure that by tracking KPIs such as pieces of content published per month and content quality scores based on peer reviews. Try focusing on those KPIs within your team’s direct control, and you’ll likely see improvement across more traditional KPIs such as traffic, shares and conversions.

Content Marketing Trends for 2022

1. Content designers will be the cool kids of the digital world this year.

Just about every startup is integrating the discipline of content design into its systems, and at the same time everyone is still trying to figure out what exactly it entails. As a writer and content strategist who has always loved working closely with designers, it really warms my heart to see the words “content” and “design” so close to each other.

So why do content designers exist now, and what do they do?

A common mistake within organizations is when design teams and content teams operate too independently. A design team will create a wireframe and then toss it to the content team and say, “Here you go, fill in the words, please.” Or a content team will write a report and hand it to the designers and say, “Time to make this pretty and usable.” Both scenarios lead to grumbling and a poor user experience.

So the advent of the content designer is a recognition that this madness needs to stop. The content designer speaks the languages of content, design and user experience to help the whole team remain aligned and collaborative on the project at hand. They plan and advocate for content as products, processes and experiences are designed. They also help content creators see how their work will live within a larger design system once it’s in front of a user.

Content design can and often will intersect with an organization’s marketing function, but it’s not a replacement for content marketing. Nearly every organization will continue to need high-quality content that reaches and engages with its audiences to drive business results. Content design can help achieve that.

2. Video marketing will have its podcast moment.

As the popularity of podcasts has exploded over the past decade, more brands have been convinced of the medium’s power and launched podcasts of their own. I certainly believe in the power of high-quality audio content to help brands build a deep, authentic relationship with their audiences, and we’ve seen measurable results in the medium for clients like TD Ameritrade.

But while podcasts can still be impactful, the landscape is getting more crowded by the minute. Simply having a podcast doesn’t make your brand special. The content needs to be laser-focused on your audience, its distribution must be highly targeted, and it has to be optimized for discoverability.

Podcast-like video, however, offers a compelling opportunity for brand marketers who are willing to jump in early. So what do I mean by “podcast-like video”? Take your pick of the most common types of podcasts—conversations, interviews, narratives, monologues or news rundowns—and record them as videos.

These don’t have to be highly produced. If podcasts have taught us anything, it’s that audiences don’t care as much about production value as they do about the quality of the content (that is, what’s being said). Some of the most popular podcasts are simply people talking to one another unscripted and with minimal editing in post-production.

The pandemic has really made this opportunity clear. Even today, about two years since the first lockdowns, reporters and analysts are doing their jobs from their homes on major television networks. I’ve seen dogs join their pundit-owners while they’re broadcasting on CNBC, Tony Kornheiser is always streaming from his attic, and only recently has Andy Cohen started having guests into his studio. I will admit that the last example has made a huge difference in the quality of the show (likely because there’s a live audience), but in general, viewers do not seem to care. We’re all watching on screens in our living rooms and phones anyway, so what’s the difference?

With social platforms (especially LinkedIn—the most relevant platform for B2B) promoting video content over everything else, there will be a huge first-mover advantage for brands and thought leaders to share videos of themselves interviewing, monologuing and providing news and trend updates that are relevant to their audiences.

The biggest friction point holding people back from seizing this content opportunity, in my opinion, is that it simply isn’t easy to put yourself out there on video. Audio is easier—they can’t see your face! But those who can get over their (very understandable) digital stage fright will stand to benefit immensely in the form of authority, engagement and visibility with their highest value audiences.

3. Content creators will need to educate themselves in search engine optimization, and SEOs will need to be able to write.

If someone is to be effective in either area of expertise, these are no longer nice-to-haves. An effective content marketing program depends on both creativity and discoverability, and the skillset of those within the marketing function of any organization must reflect that new reality.

SEO experts will roll their eyes when a writer gets too cute with a headline and neglects to include a single keyword—let alone give the reader any indication of what the article is about. But rather than simply flag this fact for the writer, the SEO needs to be able to first take a stab at the headline before passing it back to the writer for fine-tuning. This is important for two reasons: First, it cuts the whole process down by a step, which keeps things moving at a good clip. Second, it helps ensure that any keyword recommendations from the SEO actually make sense. There’s nothing that takes the wind out of a writer’s sails like when they’re told to fit a long, awkward phrase into some copy.

Likewise, writers need to take responsibility for the optimization of their writing. Writing is a creative endeavor, sure, but there are best practices for making content easy to find online. Writers can’t completely ignore them and expect SEOs to come to their rescue every time.

The content marketing operations that do big numbers this year and outperform the competition will no doubt include A-level talent on the content and SEO side who can think like and perform the duties of the other at an intermediate level.

And that wraps up my content marketing trends, ideas and predictions for 2022! Hope you enjoyed it and that your year is off to a wonderful start. Join in the conversation by subscribing to our free, bi-weekly newsletter and following us on LinkedIn. 

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