Four profound marketing megatrends for 2016 and beyond

marketing megatrends

Yes folks the air is crisp, people are planning holiday parties and that can only mean one thing: it’s time for 2016 trend predictions!

It’s also something I love to do and I have had a pretty good track record with prognostications in the past, so here we go with five marketing megatrends that will affect many businesses in coming months.

1. Overcoming Information density

Companies like Dell have to make pretty accurate projections of the data flow on the web because this is more or less their sales forecast for servers and other hardware. And the number that seems to be making the rounds is that in five years the amount of information on the web will increase by 500 percent or more.

This is good news for companies that make servers but nightmarish for marketers who have to fight through this overwhelming information density to make a message stand out.

Information density is by far the most important trend in marketing today … and in the foreseeable future. If you are only focusing on producing content, you’re already behind. The fight to overcome Content Shock is the most impactful force in our field since the dawn of the Internet itself. Finding ways to cut through the clamor will impact:

  • The skillsets we need in our organizations to succeed in this environment.
  • Strategies to not only produce content, but to get it to ignite and be seen in this environment.
  • Organizational roles and structure — As I forecast at the end of my new book The Content Code (which prescribes a solution to this problem) every marketing department will have a person or team focused on post-publishing ignition
  • Platforms — The need to breakthrough will forge new channels and distribution options.
  • Content forms — How do you make your content even more remarkable? Watch for exciting new content forms in the near future.
  • Budgets — Budgets will have to increase to reflect a need for better content, focus on distribution efforts, promotion and content advertising designed to cut through the clutter.
  • Analytics — A simple social media dashboard is not enough to win in this environment. Do you know who shares your content the most? If you don’t, figure it out now and focus marketing efforts on rewarding those people, your Alpha Audience who is actually creating the economic benefits for your business.

If you do one thing in 2016, it should be focusing on understanding the dynamics and strategies to get your content to actually be seen and shared on the web. As I detail in my book, the act of sharing drives the economics of social media marketing, creates advocacy, and affects purchasing intent.

2. Leaving your technology homebase

One of the most prevalent mantras of social media marketing is that you need a homebase for your content — “don’t build your base on rented land.”

I believe the cost/benefit of this formula is shifting and we will need to adjust our strategies and submit to the powerful forces of Facebook and the other social platforms.

While I agree you still need to build and own a hub to archive and record your content, I believe we are in a transitional period where we will have to finally give up much of the control of our content to Facebook, LinkedIn and other platforms. Why? We simply have no choice any more.

There are three developments driving this trend:

  1. Facebook and other platforms are improving their publishing options, and the potential access to an audience of millions of people. This makes maintaining our own site as the primary homebase less efficient
  2. Facebook is rewarding “dwell time,” the amount of time people spend on your content. This works against the traditional “inbound” strategy of populating social channels with links that direct back to your site.
  3. Facebook is moving to provide monetization options for content that may exceed our own abilities to make money from our content.

This trend runs counter to popular opinion on the web but I see the pressure mounting in a way so that our focus will shift from driving people to our own site to new strategies that adjust to the will of Facebook and other social platforms. This cuts at the heart of the traditional “inbound strategy” but as always, we will adapt and adjust.

3. Robo content

In the past few months I have had the opportunity to test several software platforms that can help you create better, more shareable content based on data and analytics. While this technology is available, it hasn’t been widely adopted and I think 2016 will see this adoption accelerate.

But that’s just the beginning.

For the first time, the Los Angeles Times ran a news story created by a computer. Some forecast that in the next few years, the majority of our news stories will be created by artificial writers. Computers have created rap lyrics, poetry and yes, even blog posts, that are indistinguishable from human content. Will businesses use robo-content? Of course they will.

How does a content creator fight back and survive? Personal branding. Build that emotional connection to help you become indispensable.

4. The rise of virtual reality as mainstream marketing

Facebook is on the verge of introducing new consumer applications for its Oculus virtual reality technology. Once this technology moves beyond gaming, it will have a more profound impact on society and business than the Internet itself.

Why is this important to business? Each time we have a fundamental technological shift — the Internet, search, social media — there is an advantage for early adopters. The ability to access a realistic, addictive 360-degree world will transform the way we:

  • Collaborate and work
  • Discover new products, services, and people
  • Entertain ourselves
  • Connect and converse
  • Learn

In this age of overwhelming information density, how do we stand out? It’s by offering people a chance to step out of their filter bubbles and spend some time in a fun and immersive experience.

By 2019, we may spend the majority of our time each day with a headset strapped to our head, much in the manner that we spend most of our day in front of a glowing screen of some sort today. We will look back at the Facebook acquisition of Oculus as one of the most significant technology deals in history.

Well, those are some of the things I’m keeping an eye on for the future. What do you think of these ideas? What’s on your mind?

This post was originally written as part of the Dell Insight Partners program, which provides news and analysis about the evolving world of tech. For more on these topics, visit Dell’s thought leadership site PowerMoreDell sponsored this article, but the opinions are my own and don’t necessarily represent Dell’s positions or strategies.

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  • Great work Mark. I hope you don’t mind that I just coined you as Social Media’s version of Louis C.K.

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  • Well … that’s a first. Thank you I think? : )

  • It mainly references your appearance on this post. Your wardrobe resembles Louis C.K.’s classic jeans and t-shirt, plus I also think you have a I don’t give a hoot attitude in general I’m just going to give my honest opinion and let the chips fall where they may…and I like that.

  • jmctigue

    I’m glad you’re out front on this Mark. So many of us are asleep at the wheel, feeling comfortable that what has worked will continue to work. I’m all for scrapping the inbound playbook as we know it and moving on to the ways people want to discover, consume and participate in the new immersive content.

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  • MrTonyDowling

    I love reading these each year, and its testament to you Mark, that I regard yours as more strategic insight than some sort of mystical predication!
    Anyway, Im off to ponder the impact of robot journalists!

  • Welll… that would be accurate : )

  • This is certainly an area for rich debate in the coming months. A lot of people are going to be defensive but so be it. We have to run our businesses on what is, not on what we wish. : )

  • Thanks. Means a lot coming from you Tony!

  • Gerry Tacovsky

    I agree Mark with your forecast for 2016. I’m especially intrigued with the Robo Writer. I could always send it here to write my comments.

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  • Adrijus Guscia

    Sucks to see no.2 point. I don’t want it to happen but it does make sense. Distribution grows even more important..BUT looking at no.4 maybe VR can turn it around and bring more value to websites…

  • If you are only focusing on producing content, you’re already behind. […] If you do one thing in 2016, it should be focusing on understanding the dynamics and strategies to get your content to actually be seen and shared on the web.

    This is wise, brilliant and terrifying all at the same time. The question is; how do you go from just convincing your company that content is important to making them realize that there’s so much more to it than just writing that it could be my full-time job (and not just another piece to the hodge podge job description I have)?

    I’m just trying to take it one day at a time but I truly loved your insight into the future.

  • Oh I dare you. : )

  • It’s hard to look ahead at the next few months and not think “sucks” but we need to take a deep breath and dive in!

  • Have them read the introduction and first chapter of “The Content Code.” Seriously. If that does not convince them they need to pivot fast I don’t know what will. : ) Good seeing you in the comment section Danielle!

  • Adrijus Guscia

    We’ll see, yeah! But I’m definitely of mindset that website is no.1 and email list is no.1 asset. Distribution will change as things evolve.

  • That’s a perfect idea! I’ll have to bring my copy tomorrow and scan it!

  • Good post Mark. Any sense of what Facebook might offer in the way of content monetization options?

  • I got to meet with a guy in New York who is running this for Facebook. They are aggressively working with big publishers like the NYT etc on joint deals but a little guy like me is not on the radar screen. They have a rather overly-optimisitc and naive view that publishing on Facebook will popularize content so much it will increase print and digital susbscriptions. Of course the early results show that this is not happening at all. Where will it end up? Who knows?

  • Thanks for the insight Mark. Mass Media (and big budgets) are morphing into publishing hybrids. It will always come down to who owns the audience.

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