By now, you’ve probably come across the same marketing trends posts and research studies that I have. You’ve seen that video content continues to dominate social media. You’ve heard that voice search is The Next Big Thing. You know that companies are starting to use chatbots and messaging apps to have more meaningful conversations with audiences and that AI/VR is shaking up brand experiences.
These are all important trends to keep on your radar, and it’d be a good idea for all of us to watch them closely as they evolve and continue testing them out ourselves.
Still, it’s important to note that all the technology and tools and tactics in the world mean next to nothing without a talented content marketing team behind the wheel.
Don’t get me wrong — content marketers wouldn’t be all that effective if they didn’t have the right technologies to help them. But at the end of the day, it’s a team of people that’s responsible for telling well-crafted, authentic stories that build communities and motivate audiences to take action.
Success in content marketing (in 2018 and for the foreseeable future) is achieved by having the right people with the right skills empowered by the right tools and processes. So rather than tell you what you already know about the rise of video, let’s explore four important content trends and what they tell us about the power of content marketing teams in 2018.
1. Top-performing content marketers value (and prioritize) creativity in their content production process.
A major part of breaking through the noise online is creating content that’s truly amazing — and that’s really hard to do if you’re not embracing the creative side of your content marketing brain. Thankfully, according to Content Marketing Institute, 74 percent of marketers (and 88 percent of high performers) say their organizations value that creativity.
No one wants to read the same boring “stories” served up by different brands. What audiences are looking for is a variety of original content that tells genuine, meaningful stories that they care about and can relate to.
And to tell those stories and resonate with the real human people in our audiences, we all need to get creative and think about engagement in new ways. This requires a team.
It doesn’t matter how ~creative~ you are, how skilled a content creator, or how willing you are to think outside the box — a team of people with diverse talents and ideas can be the difference between retelling a dull story and captivating the members of your audience with unique content they actually love.
That’s because a team of people can push one another to develop those new ideas into content that’s as compelling as it is effective. At a time when all of us could stand to get better at finding new ways to connect with our audiences, multifaceted content marketing teams are even more critical.
2. The average blog post takes more than three hours to write.
According to Orbit Media, content creators spent more time per post in 2017 than they did in previous years.
To a sole content creator with too much to do and too little time, that’s probably a shocking (if not kind of discouraging) finding. Three hours and 20 minutes is a lot of time! You could watch more than eight episodes of “30 Rock” in that time, and most people would probably consider you a pile of garbage for wasting so much time bingeing eight episodes of a show you’ve already seen four times.
Creating good content takes time. Creating exceptional content takes even more. And as it becomes harder to attract and maintain audience attention, the time it takes to craft great content will increase, too.
Now, it’s not impossible for one person to achieve this. As you’ve heard a million times, success is about content quality, not quantity. No need to set aside three-plus hours per article five times per week every week for the rest of your career.
Still, the fact that good content takes longer to create is a major signal that content support is a valuable investment. A team of people is more helpful in producing high-quality content consistently — no matter how frequently you choose to do so.
3. Content creators who use a formal editing process are more likely to be successful.
More and more content creators are working alongside editors, and those who have a formal process for editing content are 43 percent more likely to report strong results.
This is something our team sees year after year in our own research: Content that’s professionally written and edited performs much better than content that’s not.
That’s because unedited content is harmful to your efforts. Careless errors and typos reflect poorly on your brand and make it hard to get published. Plus, skipping straight from “Draft” to “Publish” makes it easy to overlook inconsistencies that weaken your content.
Editors strengthen and elevate content. They’re the ones who look at every piece with fresh eyes and new perspectives and uncover ways to make good content even better.
This is nearly impossible to do on your own.
At Influence & Co., every piece of content we create is edited at least twice: once by an editor who focuses on structure and strategy and once by an editor who polishes the piece and preps it for publication. These editors work closely with one another, with our network of freelance writers and designers, and with the thought leaders whose expert insights give content its teeth.
If you want your content to succeed, you need to invest in content creators and editors who can each focus on what they know best: developing and refining effective content.
4. The most effective marketers rely on a workflow to create content efficiently.
Seventy percent of top-performing marketers say their team’s project management during the creation process is excellent or very good, compared to 36 percent of all respondents and just 14 percent of the least successful marketers.
It’s no coincidence that high-performing teams report having more efficient production processes. That’s what a good editorial workflow does: It helps everyone do more of what they’re great at, which results in better work produced more efficiently.
The thing is, efficient production processes don’t just happen. They’re developed and refined and overseen by project managers.
That’s why content marketing teams composed of creators, editors, and — you guessed it — project managers are so valuable. Along with custom content software and publication relationships, teams like these are exactly how Influence & Co. services clients and how our internal marketing operates, too.
Now, unless you’re a textbook Type A who dreams about process documents, your workflow is not going to be the most exciting part of your content marketing. But if you value your time and your talents, then you need a process that maximizes both — and someone responsible for overseeing that process. (Bonus points if that person works directly with your strategists, creators, and editors.)
If these four trends indicate anything, it’s that effective content — content that genuinely engages an audience and drives impressive results for your company — requires a talented team of experts. May 2018 be the year of the content marketing team.