My 2018 content marketing prediction: More predictive analysis content!

Estimated read time: 3 minutes

Putting more structure around what content will take off will happen. Maybe even in 2018. Maybe 2019, but with 2018 just around the corner I’ll go with that as my one and only digital marketing prediction for 2018.

Content teams of course have done predictive analysis or guessing to a degree for a while – often it’s been low tech:

I remember U.S.-focused teams that would monitor international news and anticipate topics that would become relevant in the United States. Highly unscientific, of course, but this experience and gut feeling based approach can and has worked at times.

Gut feeling of course is hard to scale. So why not use a software tool that monitors what is about to start trending?

Certainly, some of you are already doing that. I have hardly dabbled and many teams still focus on responding to something that has just happened. Usually, this looks like this:

Event happens

Starts trending, etc.

An organization starts looking at how they should respond/insert themselves/etc.

Content creation starts

Distribution starts

The last 2-3 steps can take their time and – unless an organization moves fast – slowness can be the differentiator in not making it work.

Moving fast with relevance and useful content works. Of course, when we have wait for something to take off, there’s a build-in delay.

Similarly in the journalism world: Somebody releases a report and the journalist now is quickly trying to add context and put an interesting story together.

Of course, it’s much easier when journalists gets embargoed copies of the report: Basically, the releasing organization will send an advanced copy and let the journalist know when it can be published.

As long as all the journalists agree to the embargo this is a great way to slow down just a bit, get some less stressed quotes and add context. And then publish at the agreed-upon time.

Predictive analysis can do the same for the 2018 content marketer. In a perfect world:

Here’s what’s expected to start trending.

Here’s what’s unique to you.

Start unique and authentic content creation.

Start distribution.

Now, do we have to wait with distribution until the content starts trending. It depends on the topic, I would say. There could be disadvantages to being too far ahead of the curve for some sensitive topics.

For others being ahead of the curve might end up ranking quicker and higher in search engines when people start searching. In general, I would lean on being earlier than later.

Of course, many of us have looked to past content performance to predict future performance. And also to help us focus our efforts.

Let’s spend energy on the content that we think has a chance to take off.

We should still do this, but of course in tandem. Here’s my process:

Look at what topics are (about ) starting to trend.

Evaluate if they even fit for your content strategy.

See if similar content assets have been a hit with your audience before.

Have a discussion and make a decision.

Now, if you have something unique and relevant to say about a topic, by all means say it. Even if prior similar content didn’t take off consider continuing if there’s potential.

Of course, somebody on the team has to monitor this. I would recommend the data person takes on that task. Certainly, they still need to have a nose for stories and the best data digital marketers do anyway.

So there you have it. Given that many “next year” predictions are usually safe or when not safe are wrong, I’ll be interested to see what happens with predictive analysis is in content and digital marketing and how some of the best teams will be able to integrate it into their content marketing strategy.

Related: 59 more from the Content Marketing Institute


This was first published on November 5, 2017 and then updated with the CMI image on December 12th 2017. It was again updated in February 2018 to share the ScribbleLive webinar.