As content continues to become an ever-important staple for businesses of all shapes and sizes, I thought it’d be interesting to share some thoughts on what the future of content might look like.
However, instead of sharing just my own thoughts, I wanted to bring you what the future of content looks like for some of the folks I look up to and respect in this space.
This mini-series will bring you some of the web’s most critical thinkers when it comes to content – hopefully you’ll enjoy reading as much as I did, and these thoughts will spark ideas of your own on what the future of this thing we call content looks like.
The Future of Content Marketing Isn’t in Marketing Content
When most marketing professionals think about content, they think in terms that have grown all too familiar. They want to produce consumable content that is considered valuable, shareable, and drives measurable action.
It doesn’t matter what form the content takes as long as it meets those three criteria. Social media, articles, electronic newsletters, case studies, white papers, videos, webcasts, photos, and other content are all part of the marketing mix.
Sure, most marketers prefer some tactics over others, which is largely based upon budgets, production capabilities, content trends, and self-actualized outcomes.
When you boil it all down, however, content marketing is largely the same with an emphasis on brand attention over substance — short, punchy bits of data that marketers hope (emphasis on hope) will propel the public to do something, anything.
Like it or not, that is the model. It isn’t a very attractive model, but that is the model that has grown out of what some people branded a social media revolution.
They were partly right too. It changed marketing, just not necessarily for the better.
As the social media revolution continued, marketers created new barriers in that the only way most organizations think they can be heard is to increase production budgets and increase the volume of content as if spray and pray is a real strategy.
It all coincides with how marketing is perceived right now. But not for long.
Marketing is Ripe for Another Technological Shakeup
We are currently standing at the edge of the next technological leap forward and most marketers are largely unaware and unprepared for it. But once the right piece of hardware is introduced, the term ‘medium’ will be given up for multimedia with an increasingly immersive participant experience.
What is the right piece of hardware? The writing is on the wall, but not everyone sees it.
The next generation device will be whatever technology provides a portable processor strong enough to allow a participant access to all of their applications and data (desktop or mobile) and then project any number of them onto relevant screens or display panels with the wave of a hand or voice command.
We’re this close to it.
The next generation smart watch will likely provide enough processing power to enable access to desktop-tablet-mobile applications and content and then direct this data to the most appropriate interactive display device — whether it is function-specific tech like a motorcycle helmet, handheld like a tablet, desktop screen and keyboard, table- or wall-mounted flat screen, or full room virtual reality display.
So whatever desktop you sit down in front of will become your desktop. Whatever presentation is in the room will become your presentation screen.
Whatever table- or wall-mounted flat screen is within proximity can become your gaming access pass or set up a tabletop game with a touch screen interface. No wires needed.
The functionality will be dynamic enough that people will be able to simultaneously interact with content in different ways on more than one screen, enable shared interactive features on demand, and enjoy an increasing array of creatively interactive touch displays. Interactive paper and notebooks are not too far off in the future.
A portable processor would likely bring them to market sooner.
What Will Content Marketing Look Like in Such a World?
While some of the specifics are only as limited as your imagination, there are some core concepts that have some universal benefits in such a world. As an introduction to an exploratory of what is possible, here are four key components to the future of content and content marketing.
While some people bank on content marketing becoming more visual, they are neglecting that not all people consume information the same way. As educators know, people can be visual (see), auditory (told), kinesthetic (touch), or language (read/write) learners.
This suggests that the content of the future needs to be more malleable, catering to each learning style, or more multimodal, catering to all styles at once.
To accommodate, marketers may have to be more effective in creating multimedia presentations that reach people in whatever way they are most comfortable, including content that might augment big screen presentations with small screen definitions, graphics, or exercises.
As a natural extension to multimodal content, information will become increasing nonlinear. Linear communication can be effective in many instances, but isn’t always the most efficient means of communication as it relies on sequential data.
Nonlinear data opens up a scalable communication experience whereby every piece of data can be attached to additional bits of increasingly in-depth data.
For example, a reference to a battle during World War II might lead to a non-sequential array of data about that battle or about the politics of the war or about the individual combatants. In short, the participant drives the direction of the data, helping fill in details they might not have.
A nonlinear communication array doesn’t necessarily have to be tied to pre-existing data. It can just as easily provide participants with a seamless choice of communication options, thereby allowing them to move from data sources to messaging platforms to one-on-one calls to town hall video conferences.
Imagine, for example, the effectiveness of Twitter if participants could move from typing to talking to video chat or from one-on-one to one-to-some or one-to-all communication simply by directing the application to a suitable display.
In short, people can pick what style of communication makes the most sense without changing applications or devices much like social media managers do today but without the need for a middle man application.
By giving people the power to choose what they learn, how they learn, and by what degree of intimacy they communicate, technology really could change everything about content.
It would provide people with the ability to learn about a product or service, focus on details that are important to them, provide outside opinions, and contact live customer service representatives on demand.
When all of these factors are brought together with varying degrees of interactivity among people as well as people and their proximity within an environment, anything is possible. This can be via visors or glasses or googles (without the added bulk of technology on your face) to activating full-room virtual reality simulations.
Technology is Still the Best Bet for Form to Fit Function
In biology, it is commonly accepted that form fits function. This means that things take on designs and shapes based upon their function. It’s why nature works.
The Internet is designed in reverse. Sites are given a form and participants are required to adapt to it. In essence, form dictates function.
The next technological leap, with a nonlinear, multimodal, interactive form that accommodates personal choice is the first step in realigning the space as it was meant to be experienced, with form fitting function on the screen and in our day-to-day environments.
But you don’t have to wait. Function-first content can be now.
About Richard Becker: Richard R. Becker (Rich) is an American writer, journalist, communication strategist, educator, and entrepreneur. He is best known as an accredited business communicator and president of Copywrite, Ink., a strategic communication and writing services firm with experience on more than 1,000 accounts, including BlogCatalog, City of Henderson, Fidelity Investments, McDonald’s, National Emergency Number Association (NENA), U.S. Air Force, and Volkswagen.
In addition to this position, he currently serves as a city council-appointed commissioner on the Las Vegas Parks And Recreation Advisory Commission, social media director for AIGA Las Vegas and the Vegas Valley Book Festival, and is a co-founder of BloggersUnite.org. He has also assisted more than 60 nonprofit and professional organizations as a consultant and/or board member. This includes nine years of service as a governor-appointed state commissioner for Nevada Volunteers (AmeriCorps) and a decade as an examiner for the IABC International Accreditation Board.
Other posts in this series: