Content Marketing in Age of Mistrust

Welcome to 2017.  It sure has been an interesting start.

For B2B and B2C marketers, one thing also is for sure – Content Marketing remains on track to be a major force in the year ahead.  The statistics tell the story.  According to LinkedIn, 4.6 billion pieces of content are produced daily while Worldometers’ live tracker indicates that more than 2 million blog posts are written every day.

Regardless, evolving market dynamics will affect content marketing, the kind of content you produce, and how you distribute it in the upcoming year.  As we say, content matters, and looking ahead, the focus on quality content will matter that much more.

Here are two clear reasons why:

First, in an article in OpenView Labs (1), they point out that one of the big content marketing trends in 2017 will be longer form pieces. “There is an arms race of sorts among content marketers when it comes to producing ‘big content.’ Where once marketers  were happy to write  500-word articles on one topic, we now see increasingly in-depth content with interactive graphs, infographics and multiple sections, chapters, or hub-and-spoke series.”

From an SEO perspective, this stands to reason. OpenView Labs reports that the average top-ranking page in 2016 was 2,000 words long. Even posts that were 250 words shorter ranked far lower (in tenth position).  Social sharing also improves with longer posts. A study by BuzzSumo (2) found that long-form content gets more social shares than short-form content, creating greater incentive for content creators to write longer, more in-depth articles.

4a0fd3d0-3a76-4f8c-93b3-45b9508b4455So, while content is expected to be even longer and more detailed in 2017, it’s equally important to consider that Google’s Search Quality Rating handbook rates websites and pages based on what is referred to as its E.A.T. Principle:  Expertise, Authority and Trustworthiness.

It is this last point that leads us to our second reason for why quality content is essential in 2017 – the increased focus on trust.

iMedia (3) recently reported the current environment is colored by skepticism-driven buzzwords such as “fake news” and “untruths” that have made an already skeptical public that much more suspicious of the media and information they consume.  iMedia’s view is that trust is scarcer than ever, making it an increasingly valuable commodity.

This view is further confirmed by The Edelman Trust Barometer, an annual trust and credibility survey now in its 17th year. (4)  The most recent survey, conducted in October and November of 2016, revealed the largest ever drop in trust, on a year-over-year basis, across the institutions of government, business, media and NGOs. Of note, among those uncertain about whether the system is working for them, business is the institution they trust the most.

This presents both a challenge and an opportunity.  If the goal of content marketing is to provide smart insights and helpful information to position your company as a credible and leading resource for your products and services, then you need to make sure your content is of the utmost quality:  it must meet the E.A.T. principle AND overcome public perceptions that it might be self-serving, factually inaccurate or misleading.

To achieve this, here are a few basic guidelines:

  • Be thoughtful and purposeful: Provide your audience with new information or a new perspective on a topic relevant to your area of expertise yet reflecting your customers’ business needs. Choose subject matter for which you offer a clear point of view and are firmly committed, whether new market intelligence or a visionary perspective on an impending trend.
  • Be forthright:  Adopt a style that is short on flowery language and long on “getting to the point.” This helps to ensure you communicate with the kind of confidence and clarity often associated with integrity.
  • Reference credible sources: Cite notable experts and recognized influencers, as well as provide statistics from outside research that support your own proprietary research and views. Be sure to reference sources at the conclusion of your work.
  • Be relatable: Connect your ideas to real world examples so your audience will quickly understand what you are discussing. Providing relatable information also creates the opportunity to personalize your content to specific users (this is another important content marketing trend for 2017).

Like we said, the start of 2017 has been nothing short of interesting. For content marketers, let’s make it impactful.

For more information, reach out to Maria Lilly at mjlilly@mjlilly.com or Joan Spivak at joan@spivakconsultinggroup.com. We’d love to speak with you.

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1.  Siu, Eric. “5 Content Marketing Trends that will Dominate Marketing in 2017.” OpenViewLabs. November 29, 2016.  (OpenViewLabsis a publication of OpenView, is an editorial site and collective of software experts dedicated to providing original research and cutting edge advice and insights on a range of topics that matter most to early and expansion stage software entrepreneurs.)

2. BuzzSumo Content Marketing Volume Study, September 2016. (BuzzSumo is a platform for content marketing and SEO agencies to discover engaging content and outreach opportunities, including a focus  on identifying what type of content resonates on the social web)

3. iMedia, “Welcome to the Age of Skepticism”, January 24, 2017

4. 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer is the firm’s 17th annual trust and credibility survey.  It reflects the views of more than 33,000 respondents around the world.