Adam Torkildson — the man who acquired Social Media Explorer to add to his content marketing and thought leadership business —  and I chatted this week about the future of content and content marketing. He asked me what I thought the next “big thing” was, as those conversations go.

Coincidentally, I’ve been circulating around what is happening now in small increments, but I think is about to become quite noticeable. And I think it’s time we talk about it.

Get Ready for Content Marketing Separation

Content marketing as we typically define it — brands, influencers and wanna-bes creating articles, videos, images and social posts in order to gather audiences, drive traffic, influence search rankings and achieve marketing goals — is about to hit a separation point. Notice I didn’t say “saturation point.” That’s long past and well documented by Mark Schaefer in his Content Shock theory.

The separation point, however, is perhaps an answer to Content Shock. In the coming months, I believe you’ll see a more profound separation in brands and influencers who continue to create great content and the also-rans who will fade into the sunset.

Roads - Deb CostelloLong-form writing on blogs is going to turn toward elevating real writers and truly helpful content. The 300-word shit-engines are going to struggle to keep pace and eventually die off. Or rotate out of circulation to some other schmuck trying to break into the content game.

And that will be in tiered levels. You’ll not only see the “accept every guest post because we have to just churn out content” blogs become less impactful while deeper, more thoughtful (perhaps even more professional) writers see their sites rewarded by the search engines for being better. But you’ll also see the PR-adultered media sites (Like Forbes, Business Insider, Entrepreneur and Inc.) stiffen up their guest post policies and stop letting the flacks with their hidden client messages and links have free run of a high-authority domain.

Why? Again, because Google will reward the sites that do and penalize those that don’t.

It’s even highly probability that the Content Marketing Separation will be the direct result of another Google algorithm update. The mothership likes to keep its results pure. And trust me, there’s a lot of shit eeking its way to the top that doesn’t deserve it.

Update (September 2020) – There’s even a shift in now Google prioritizes pages versus domains in their algorithms.

In researching this piece, I even found a fluff piece on Forbes written by a “contributor” that was actually a fluff piece originally posted as written by just the admin on a fucking dating site!? I mean, c’mon, Forbes. You’re Forbes! The last time I looked, that’s not German for “whore.”

It’s Not Just About Blogs

The separation doesn’t end there. In fact, where it might have an even more obvious impact is the world of influencer marketing. The whimsical, Instagram darlings that don’t invest in professional design, photography and style help will start to lose pace because brands will see they can’t really engage their audience the way the real pros can. For every Tifforelie that makes it, there will be a dozen or more “Professional Influencers” who are left to hope for that big break of being promoted to head barista at Latte Pahtay.

The game will become audience engagement, plus. Meaning you’ll need professional graphics, videographers, photography with lighting and done with a real camera and more. Audiences will gravitate to those with a real style, not just those who seem to be living a stylish life. Second rate folks and businesses will be … second rate.

So What is a Content Marketer to Do?

For those of you who produce content, invest in better writers, images, design, video, production and graphics. Stop thinking that you have a blog, and think of yourself as the executive editor of a periodical that people want to read. (I hate the word “blog” anyway.)

For the influencers out there, look at your content objectively. Do you have a defined style? Are you communicating a consistent world view both aesthetically as well as in meaning? If not, then you’d better figure it out. Because brands are becoming way more picky about who they work with, mainly because audiences are, too.

The good news is that the Content Marketing Separation is going to make things better for consumers. But it’s also going to piss on the hopes of the influencer and guru wanna-bes. In the end, however, that’s really how the world should be.

Now only if we could have Google realign its algorithm to get rid of shitty politicians. Heh.

What do you think? Agree? No? The comments, as always, are yours.

Note: Found the photo of two roads diverged on Deb Costello’s blog. Hope she doesn’t mind me using it.

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