THE FUTURE OF CONTENT MARKETING

What Top 21 Experts Think!

We asked 21 experts, 5 questions regarding the future of Content Marketing:

  1. Should organisations shift their content strategy from building branded content to establishing themselves as content brand?
  2. Which are the most useful tools in your daily content generation and marketing?
  3. Which social media channel will become platform #1 for content marketing?
  4. Who will win the battle long detailed vs short snackable content?
  5. What does the future hold for the Content-SEO pair?

OMAR KATTAN

Managing Director & CSO At Sandstorm Digital FZE Twitter: @OmarKattan
"The future of SEO will rely less on technical signals and more on authority and social signals both of which require brands to produce more relevant, useful, entertaining and inspiring content."
Branded Content vs Content Brand
In an ideal world, yes. But I don't think all organizations can establish themselves as content brands because that requires an investment in an area outside of their business and comfort zone.

Having said that, I strongly believe all brands must at least think like publishers and adopt tools and processes that can help them produce and market content to the right audience and the right time in the right place.
Your favourite content generation/marketing tools
There is no fixed set of tools that we use, it depends on the client and their objectives. But as a standard, we use WordPress along with various plugins for planning and marketing the content including calendar, email and lead nurturing.
#1 Social media channel for content marketing
For B2B, you can't really beat linkedIn.

For B2C, Facebook will always reign.
Long detailed vs short snackable content
I don't think it is a battle, both formats may work depending on the brand and its audience. However, with more and more content being generated every day, and with the staggering growth of mobile, "snackable" content is becoming more of a must to maintain the attention of the majority of audiences.
The future of the Content-SEO pair
SEO has and always will be an important part of content marketing. Having said that, the future of SEO will rely less on technical signals and more on authority and social signals both of which require brands to produce more relevant, useful, entertaining and inspiring content.
"Google wants to show the best results to visitors. So, it is very important to have the best content among the top 10 results of your target keyword to rank and stay there. Thin content is dead for better or worse."
Branded Content vs Content Brand
Both can work for big, multinational companies and that's why they do both. However, for businesses smaller than Coca-Cola, it is better to focus on becoming a content brand.

Literally everyone is doing some form of content marketing and I haven't seen it failing yet. Those who don't will definitely fall behind and lose to their competitors.
Your favourite content generation/marketing tools
Buzzsumo is a great tool and I often use it for some quick idea generation. It will find potential popular titles to write about with a simple search.

Canva is also a favorite to easily create some quick images, even though I have 0 designing skills.
#1 Social media channel for content marketing
For B2C and appealing products, I am pretty sure it will be Instagram and then Facebook. For B2B, LinkedIn and SlideShare will definitely stay at the top.
Long detailed vs short snackable content
Again for B2C both might work depending on the audience. For entertainment, short content is especially popular. For B2B, I have no doubt long form will win. Seth Godin is the only one I know to pull major success from short content.

However, there is no need to go to the other end of the spectrum and only create 8,000-word posts. Balance is key and tracking what our audience responds to.
The future of the Content-SEO pair
It is amazing how well content and SEO pair and they will pair even better in the future. Evidence shows that Google is tracking visitors' behavior as a ranking signal. So, if visitors don't like what they read and leave, this will impact the website's rankings in a negative way.

Google wants to show the best results to visitors. So, it is very important to have the best content among the top 10 results of your target keyword to rank and stay there. Thin content is dead for better or worse.

On a side note, focusing solely on content and ignoring its SEO aspect will leave significant traffic "on the table".

BARRY FELDMAN

Content Marketing Consultant, Feldman Creative Twitter: @FeldmanCreative
"Email is platform #1 and will remain so. It's the channel marketers can rely on to keep the people who care plugged in."
Branded Content vs Content Brand
I can’t give you a straightforward yes, so I have to say no. Establishing a content brand might be a viable strategy for companies capable of publishing consistently over the long haul, but the majority simply can’t—or won’t—commit the resources required to pull it off.
Your favourite content generation/marketing tools
The one I simply couldn’t do without is the WordPress platform. There are many I call on otherwise, but the list is long and varied. With a fair degree of consistency, I find myself clicking around Google Analytics, Google Keywords Planner, Buzzsumo, Moz Bar, and Canva.
#1 Social media channel for content marketing
Email is platform #1 and will remain so. It’s the channel marketers can rely on to keep the people who care plugged in. If you insist I nominate a more standard or real-time network, I’d say it’d be impossible to choose one for all, but it’s LinkedIn I sense is making some of the better moves to satisfy the “for content marketing” part of this question. I’m interested to see when they’ll finally flip the “video switch” on.
Long detailed vs short snackable content
They’re not opposing forces; they’re allies, or at least they should be. If you were to plan and execute them entirely separately, you’d have to make choices per your objective and consider audience, channel, and the dynamics of the sale. For instance, a snappy pic may draw someone closer to your brand, but you’ll likely need far more substance to satisfy the needs of carefully considered decisions.
The future of the Content-SEO pair
The ultimate test of relevance and experience. Understand: every day search engines get better at interpreting and meeting the user’s need. The marketer’s trick bag is approaching empty. Your opportunity to attract the perfect prospect to a web page lies in absolutely understanding and satisfying her or his needs.

RICK RAMOS

CMO of Health Joy and Author of Content Marketing Twitter: @ricktramos
"You can take long form content and break it down and make it snackable. Produce the best content you can make on a subject and don't worry about the length."
Branded Content vs Content Brand
I think this strategy (building a content brand) will work for some brands but not every brand. If your brand is getting a positive ROI from your content strategies, pour some gasoline on it and ramp it up. Make sure to continue to monitor all your KPI's during this process and see what's working for you.
Your favourite content generation/marketing tools
I use a lot of different tools on a daily basis (maybe too many.) A few tools I use off the top of my head; Google Analytics, Mixpanel, BuzzSumo, Google Adwords Keyword Planner, Microsoft Word, Optimizely, Wordpress, Draftin, AutopilotHQ, Slack, Adobe CC, Skype and a bunch more.
#1 Social media channel for content marketing
It really just depends on what your product and service are all about. If you're a jewelry company, maybe Instagram or Pinterest. For B2B companies, it might be Linkedin. Facebook has the most eyeballs by far and for most companies should be your starting place but you will need to spend some money to get some traction. My wife runs a social media agency, and she would be the first to say that every client is different.
Long detailed vs short snackable content
They are at WAR? Let me settle this battle right here and now, both can live side by side in peace. You should be using both in your marketing strategies. You can take long form content and break it down and make it snackable. Produce the best content you can make on a subject and don't worry about the length.
The future of the Content-SEO pair
Google will only improve their search engine further and higher quality content will continue to rise to the top. Remember that Kevin Costner movie Field of Dreams? "If you build it, they will come." Focus on producing the best quality content you can produce. Yes, you need to take care of some basic on-page SEO but don't worry about SEO tricks or hacks anymore, they won't last. Your users should be your #1 focus!

MICHAEL BRENNER

CEO of Marketing Insider Group, Author of The Content Formula. Twitter: @BrennerMichael
"When we look into the content consumption patterns for most brands, there are three main customer channels for content discovery: search, social and email (yes email is still important.). So brands need to focus on all three if they want to get found by the customers."
Branded Content vs Content Brand
The promise of content marketing is to attract an audience vs. buying it, or relying on publishers to help spread your content. That's why successful organizations are shifting from just building content to developing a content brand. The difference between content marketing and just content is a brand-owned destination that serves customers over the brand. This means you have to think long and hard about where your content will live, how it supports the brand mission, and what value that has for the customer and the business.
Your favourite content generation/marketing tools
Google trends, Google auto-fill and Buzzsumo are tools I use every day to plan content. With those free tools you can see what topics are important, what content is getting shared, which sites are being sought out and who is influential for each topic that matters to your audience.
#1 Social media channel for content marketing
I think the big three social networks are still important for any brand. Twitter is great for getting quick feedback on what works. Linkedin is great for deep engagement with targeted audiences. And Facebook is where so many of us discover the content we are interested in. Some brands that have more visual content to share are finding success on Instagram and Pinterest but I still think the top 3 are the best bet for most companies.
Long detailed vs short snackable content
This not a battle. In order to gain your audience's attention you need to build both long form and snackable content. Long form provides the best answer to the questions your customers are asking, and shows off your expertise. And short form content makes a simple point when we aren't in the mood to sit back and read 2,000 or more words. But you need to build a content marketing program that does both.
The future of the Content-SEO pair
When we have a question, we ask Google. So understanding what people are searching for and what questions they ask is the first rule of building an effective content marketing brand. I believe this will continue to be the case into the near future and beyond. When we look into the content consumption patterns for most brands, there are three main customer channels for content discovery: search, social and email (yes email is still important.). So brands need to focus on all three if they want to get found by the customers.

JEAN SPENCER

Global Content Marketing Strategist at Microsoft. Twitter: @Jeanwrites
"LinkedIn is where business decisions are made. And as business decision makers continue to rise as budget spenders and as leaders on the IT decision boards, LinkedIn will continue to grow as the channel that supports that content."
Branded Content vs Content Brand
Certainly brands should move away from creating content, just to create content. I don't know if that means identifying as a content brand as much as it means brands should take a committed focus to connected dots between content assets with logical progressions from one piece to the next. A widowed piece of content serves almost no purpose.
Your favourite content generation/marketing tools
The most useful tools I use are Microsoft Word, Kapost, Adobe products, and email. That's just for content creation. Our marketing team also uses marketing automation software, a variety of analytics tool sets, and media buy technology.
#1 Social media channel for content marketing
LinkedIn, IMHO. LinkedIn is where business decisions are made. And as business decision makers continue to rise as budget spenders and as leaders on the IT decision boards, LinkedIn will continue to grow as the channel that supports that content.
Long detailed vs short snackable content
The consumer. The consumer always wins. Is the consumer hungry for something big and meaty? Then the turkey wins. Is the consumer hungry for something snackable? Then the turkey sandwich wins.
The future of the Content-SEO pair
This is an interesting one. Google, Bing, and other search algorithms are constantly trying to rectify misuse of the internet and gray hat practices of SEO marketing. I often wonder if content marketing will turn from white to gray. I guess its fate depends on the integrity of content marketers.

If we, as an industry of content marketer, commit to doing our jobs with authenticity, honesty, and with a genuine interest in serving the consumer first and then the brand, we could avoid being put under the castration of a search engine update that changes the way we work. However, if our industry becomes saturated with marketers who want to trick the system, our industry is put in grave risk.

Content marketers need to understand that as brands become publishers, marketers take on an added role of representing the publication. In that sense, we must stand together with journalistic principles of ethics and standards.

RION MARTIN

Marketing Director at Infegy Twitter: @RionMartin
"Data, data everywhere. Data that says long detailed content is better. Data that says short detailed content is better. Which will win? The content that has the greatest impact and generates the most leads."
Branded Content vs Content Brand
Yes and no. There are certainly big success stories of organizations shifting to become content brands, just look at Neil Patel and Quicksprout, HubSpot, or Marketo. All three own the keyword for their category, “growth hacking” for Quicksprout, “inbound marketing” for HubSpot, and “marketing automation” for Marketo. All three are also the defacto content creators for their category.

This seems to work really well for these type of companies, all of which are a form of marketing / sales enablement. Yet for other brands the transition and connection is not nearly as well aligned. Where I see potential conflict is within companies with strictly self-service models. By creating a content brand in the spirit of educating and providing advice to the target audience for a category, a company may inadvertently define themselves as a services company, and if ill equipped to operate as such could face negative consequences due to not being able to meet expectations.

For this reason, ultimately, it really depends on the structure of a company as to whether they should be a content brand or simply create branded content.
Your favourite content generation/marketing tools
Social and online monitoring services like Google Alerts, Tweetdeck with custom search queries, our social media intelligence platform Infegy Atlas, SEMRush for search and ad analysis, Buzzsumo for content performance and content ideation, Google Adwords keyword tool for SEO and ideation, Buffer for post scheduling, Google Analytics with UTM tracking, goals, and conversion tracking, and finally Pardot for outbound email, lead forms, and prospect tracking. We use a lot of tools.
#1 Social media channel for content marketing
The sheer amount of text content is overwhelming, and it seems that to stay competitive the majority are adapting click-bait style, short form, high volume, opinion pieces that provide no real value. At the end of the day the #1 platform for a company, industry, or category will be the one that can deliver the most value to the target audience.

With the over saturation of text content, I expect that video will become more and more important as a medium. It has a higher barrier to entry, requires more thought and planning, yet at the same time is a more relatable and engaging medium. With Facebook’s recent focus on video and Youtube’s continuing dominance as the number two search engine, I expect that these two particular channels will play the biggest role in distributing video.
Long detailed vs short snackable content
Data, data everywhere. Data that says long detailed content is better. Data that says short detailed content is better. Which will win? The content that has the greatest impact and generates the most leads. It is up to the content creators to create a variety of content for their audience and then analyze the data to see which formats, subjects, and styles convert at the highest frequency.

If I can tell you how to generate more leads using a single, underexploited Twitter feature in less than 500 words, I should create short content. However, if I’m teaching you how to create a content strategy, a longer ebook that includes templates and case studies will likely be more effective. Neither is objectively wrong or right, only subjectively.
The future of the Content-SEO pair
As search algorithms have gotten more sophisticated and now take into account word stemming (analysis, analyzed), social activity, on-page interaction, and more, simple keyword based strategies seem to be less and less important to winning the page rank war. The best advice I’ve seen from SEO experts recently is, “create content that people love.”

The greater impact is that organizationally, employees with backgrounds in journalism, writing, design, and other liberal arts disciplines are now needed more than ever to help create compelling, interesting content. Pair that with an organizational focus on data, and the makeup of marketing teams starts becoming quite different than it has been historically.

ANDREW COATE

Community & Content guy at Facebook Twitter: @andrewjcoate
"I find it important to have a "Task" tool to stay on top of every small piece of content creation, a CMS to hold both in progress and completed content, an editorial calendar to better visualize what's happening, and a reporting tool. The less friction between all of these types of tools, the better, and it's vital to be able to share progress or collaborate with others simply."
Branded Content vs Content Brand
Every time I hear this question or ones like it, I'm worried that the industry is getting too caught up with terminology or catch phrases. "Branded content", "content brand", "content marketing" - whatever you'd like to call it, the focus should be understanding the needs and challenges of their target audience, and meeting those with content. This includes serving relevant content at all stages of the buying cycle (including post sale), and doing so to a variety of audiences (persona, vertical, etc).
Your favourite content generation/marketing tools
I've used a different tool set in every organization I've worked for, so I'll highlight the categories that are most useful in content creation (of course, tools are only so useful if you don't have solid process and workflows in place). I find it important to have a "Task" tool to stay on top of every small piece of content creation, a CMS to hold both in progress and completed content, an editorial calendar to better visualize what's happening, and a reporting tool. The less friction between all of these types of tools, the better, and it's vital to be able to share progress or collaborate with others simply.
#1 Social media channel for content marketing
Facebook and LinkedIn are poised to provide really great value to marketers going forward simply because of the robust targeting they both allow, however a focus on a single channel probably isn't the right focus. Each channel has a distinct audience, or at least the same audience goes to them searching for different things. The question shouldn't be "Should I use SlideShare or Pinterest?" but rather "Is my audience on [digital channel] and if so, how do I create relevant content for them in the best format for that channel?"
Long detailed vs short snackable content
Again, I'm going to shy away from choosing one over the other in favor of what an audience responds to. Both types of content have distinct value offerings. The key is to test. Try a variety of tactics and content types to see what your audience best responds to.
The future of the Content-SEO pair
Community forums are deeply undervalued as both areas for content creation and SEO results. There's a great blog about this by Joshua Paul entitled 7 Reasons That an Online Community Site is the Ultimate SEO Hack.

EVAN PROKOP

Digital Marketing Manager at TopRank Online Marketing Twitter: @eprokop1
"I have noticed some broad trends, such as that B2B companies tend to do well on business-focused networks like LinkedIn and SlideShare and B2C tends to see value from more casual networks like Facebook and Pinterest, but I've also seen enough exceptions to these trends that I recommend all businesses test and see what works."
Branded Content vs Content Brand
In general, no, I think that the majority of companies will be better served by a content strategy that exists primarily to serve their brand’s overall digital marketing objectives, rather than try to turn their content into its own business.

Certainly, there are some great examples of brands who do content marketing so well that their content machine has evolved far beyond the original objective into its own significant stream of revenue (Red Bull and Coca Cola come to mind), but this is far from the norm and takes a level of resources and commitment that most businesses simply don’t have or don’t wish to commit. Typically, monetization of content is one of the last phases of the content marketing roadmap and not one that most businesses can (or should) reach, and that’s ok.
Your favourite content generation/marketing tools
Great question. Call it efficiency or laziness (hopefully the former), but I’m obsessed with finding tools to help make my marketing life more efficient and effective.

However, given that we all have different needs, budgets and levels of knowledge, I strongly believe that there is no such thing as a perfect, one-size-fits-all tool (believe me, I’ve looked). I recommend focusing on the problem you’re looking to solve, researching applicable tools, then putting together a shortlist to test before committing.

Also, during your research process, always remember that reviews, case studies, testimonials and endorsements are great for helping to narrow the list, but are never a substitute for hands-on use.
#1 Social media channel for content marketing
As with tools, I don’t believe in one-size-fits-all channels. It all depends on where your audience likes to spend their time.

I have noticed some broad trends, such as that B2B companies tend to do well on business-focused networks like LinkedIn and SlideShare and B2C tends to see value from more casual networks like Facebook and Pinterest, but I’ve also seen enough exceptions to these trends that I recommend all businesses test and see what works.

Also, it should be noted that social media is just one piece of a successful content marketing strategy. Prospects who turn into customers aren’t spending all of their time in one place online, and neither should you (or your content).
Long detailed vs short snackable content
Both have a place, and work better for different audiences at different times in the sales cycle. I think a healthy content marketing strategy includes a mix of both short and long form content.

For businesses who have been creating content for a reasonable length of time, I highly recommend performing an audit to see in empirical terms how the length of your content correlates with key objectives (traffic, bounce rate, social shares, links, goal conversions, etc.). Having done that for clients in a broad range of industries, I have found that there is no consistent formula for success. Your company and target audience are unique, so the only way to find what works best is to test, analyze and optimize.
The future of the Content-SEO pair
Tighter integration. We have a saying around the office: “If digital marketing is a sandwich, SEO is the mayonnaise. It enhances everything it touches, but is pretty disgusting on its own.”

ADRIAN CORDINER

Founder of Digital Rhinos LinkedIn: @AdrianCordiner
"Short, snackable content is good for driving regular engagement, building momentum, capturing eyeballs. Also good for commentary on very timely issues. But in the long-term, the longer, detailed content is what drives leads and long-term organic traffic "
Branded Content vs Content Brand
I do (think companies should shift towards becoming a content brand), but they need to fully commit to it, as it is a long-term play for the company. Especially for smaller organisations, where resources can be tight, the key is to be hyper-targeted. Have a laser-like focus on your core persona, and a niche within your industry.
Your favourite content generation/marketing tools
- BuzzSumo & Ahrefs Content Explorer for finding popular content, helping with content generations ideas

- Prozely for content creation

- Buzzstream for outreach

- OpenSiteExplorer, Raven Tools for determining linkable content

- Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn for content promotion
#1 Social media channel for content marketing
It’s hard to argue against Facebook. They’ve got the audience, and are well ahead when it comes to signing deals with publishers. But again, I think it depends on what your audience is. If you’re looking at a more professional audience, you’ll find LinkedIn more useful, for example.
Long detailed vs short snackable content
Is it a cop-out to say neither? I think they both serve different purposes. Short, snackable content is good for driving regular engagement, building momentum, capturing eyeballs. Also good for commentary on very timely issues. But in the long-term, the longer, detailed content is what drives leads and long-term organic traffic. If I had to choose, I’d say the long detailed, but both will always have their place.
The future of the Content-SEO pair
I’m not sure if it’s even possible, but I’d say they get even cosier than they are now. Google’s patents related to ranking pages based primarily on the quality of the content (as opposed to the backlinks to that content) only highlight the fact that, as AI gets better at determining what good quality content looks like, the importance of it is going to skyrocket.

BRIAN HONIGMAN

Content Marketing Consultant, CEO of Honigman Media Twitter: @BrianHonigman
"Brands just building content for the sake of building content are only writing, tweeting and sharing to be seen and heard. This might achieve visibility, but people can read the lack of heart from a mile away, and they're not very likely to care about whatever it is you're really trying to get them to do."
Branded Content vs Content Brand
The distinction between creating content and being a content creator seems like a semantic one, but it’s not at all.

Just creating content puts you right in line with the scores of other digital marketing teams. Everyone’s finally seen where the field is headed and realized that the only way to see traction with digital marketing is to build it around content.

Marketers who make content aren’t doing bad job per se, but in my experience they’re missing a big piece of the puzzle. They’re missing purpose.

Brands just building content for the sake of building content are only writing, tweeting and sharing to be seen and heard. This might achieve visibility, but people can read the lack of heart from a mile away, and they’re not very likely to care about whatever it is you’re really trying to get them to do.

On the other hand, really strong brands that are content creators by extension of their mission, goals and purpose tend to not only achieve great visibility, but that exposure is much more likely to inspire action.

Create content with purpose as a natural extension of your brand and you’ll go far. If you simply “do content” you’ll just be another face in the crowd.
Your favourite content generation/marketing tools
There are a lot of tools I use on a daily basis when it comes to creating and spreading my content.

RESEARCH/ CREATION:

-Google News search has a feature (underneath search tools) that allows you to look for blogs writing about a given topic. This is a great way to tap into the zeitgeist of your field.

–Google Keyword Planner allows me to see exactly how much traffic is being directed towards a given keyword. This will guide my writing towards popular search terms.

-Spritz is a little piece of code to aid in “speed reading.” It displays text in rapid succession in a small window, thereby forcing you to read at a certain pace. The tool is a bit scary at first, but really works. I read a lot before writing (10 words, for each word I write), so being able to read quickly is key.

-WordPress is hands down my favorite content management and blogging software. It’s user-friendly, SEO-friendly, and also doesn’t have many bells and whistles that distract me from writing. It auto-saves, allows others to collaborate as well as write under their own byline and supports countless plug-ins. WordPress is awesome!

DISTRIBUTION:

-Google+ although there has been much angst about this platform’s future, two things are clear– it’s sticking around for the immediate future and it has high SEO value. Whenever I write a post, I create a complimentary summary in G+

-Pinterest to complement my Google+ summary I create a “pin it for later” option linking to an optimized pin. These two work in tandem to provide long-term visibility on search.

-Twitter especially for certain fields, Twitter is still king when it comes to drumming up visibility, interest and credibility with your content. I make sure my tweet is short and includes a CTA + an image.

-LinkedIn has quickly grown into a robust and mature blogging platform. I always share my original article on LinkedIn, then a week or so later I will republish the content in full to LinkedIn pulse to give it a second wave of life. This has worked very well thus far.
#1 Social media channel for content marketing
In my eyes Facebook is the absolute elephant in the room for a few reasons.

First, they’re absolutely crushing it with their mobile strategy. They’ve not only created apps that people use en masse, but they’ve also cracked the code of monetizing them effectively. This makes them a key player.

Secondly (and most importantly), they’ve figured out mobile-optimized content and have not even fully implemented their findings yet.

Facebook video has proved a hit overall, but has seriously edged out the competition on mobile. YouTube should be worried, because mobile is where their next decade of growth lies and Facebook has been eating their lunch.

Facebook’s Instant Articles is another ace up their sleeve. They realize that people care much more about the content rather than where it’s coming from and Facebook plans on delivering this content effectively by keeping you in their ecosystem. When this feature rolls out, I expect it to take off in a big way.
Long detailed vs short snackable content
This is, in my eyes, not a conflict at all. The preference for different kinds of content has much more to do with your purpose, industry, audience and goals than it has to do with the internet as a whole.

It’s become trendy to claim that either “the internet is ruining our ability to read,” or that “the internet is making us all super-researchers.” These two claims cancel each other out, and are both misleading.

Certain people use the internet as a diversion, whereas others log on seeking immersion. Both are valid and both desires exist.

For brands the hard part is deciding which types of content (and in what proportion) match the overall profile of your audience.
The future of the Content-SEO pair
SEO used to be the science of understanding Google’s robots and trying to trick them into thinking your page was cooler than it actually was.

Now, Google’s algorithms have gotten so sophisticated that they’re almost impossible to trick. So no more link farms, keyword stuffing or other Grey/Black-hat SEO. Those days are over.

What companies need to do today is align their interest with those of search engines and what search engines want is to direct people towards the most relevant, highest quality content.

This means that now SEO and content marketing are essentially one-in-the-same. Sure there are certain strategic moves you can make to bolster your content in the eyes of search engines, but each successive algorithm upgrade will filter out these techniques and just seek out quality.

Good SEO is already good content marketing, because creating quality relevant content is the only way to align your interest with those of the Google bots.

CAMERON CONAWAY

Content Marketing Manager @FlowApp Twitter: @CameronConaway
"A brand, perhaps now more than ever, has the ability to become its own media company if it's willing to bring in the talent and own a niche."
Branded Content vs Content Brand
Yes (companies should shift towards becoming a content brand), but this is a mindset shift as much as it’s a shift in strategy. Very few brands are aware of how badly traditional media companies are struggling. Many have become almost entirely reliant on freelancers, and many of those freelancers aren’t paid. The result is that a brand, perhaps now more than ever, has the ability to become its own media company if it’s willing to bring in the talent and own a niche.
Your favourite content generation/marketing tools
First and foremost it’s the tools that aren’t, such as having a supportive team that understands content marketing, values creativity and is fired up about the future. Of the tools, I’ve found BuzzSumo and Crowdfire to be especially useful.
#1 Social media channel for content marketing
Of the main players I see Twitter continuing to provide the most value for content marketers. It at once allows you to keep a finger on the pulse of industry trends, while rapidly connecting with others and now better developing those connections with the expanded DM feature.
Long detailed vs short snackable content
Those who don’t see it as a battle! Longform quality content will always shine in terms of SEO value, time on site and helping brands carve out a genuine place of authority. Snackable content will always shine in terms of keeping the wheels rolling and quickly becoming part of important conversations. Readers want, absorb and share both types of content. With more and more journalists transitioning to content marketing, I believe there will continue to be a positive shift from form guiding form to topic guiding form.
The future of the Content-SEO pair
More championship titles for those who value both (and place them in that order). For a throwback basketball reference… I see Content as Michael Jordan and SEO as Scottie Pippen. They couldn’t win a title without each other, but their synergy made them a dominant force.

MIKE ALLTON

The Social Media Hat Twitter: @mike_allton
"The future of Content-SEO will lie in more predictive algorithms, where we're seeing major developments in. Triberr, for instance, is working on integrating into their blog sharing platform an algorithm that will accurately predict the social engagement and interest for a particular piece of content."
Branded Content vs Content Brand
This is a topic that's coming up more and more frequently, as large brands like Marriott suddenly become full-fledged media companies. However, I think most brands and businesses will not be served by taking that step. Their focus should remain on creating high quality and highly relevant content that is branded and targeted.
Your favourite content generation/marketing tools
My most useful tools are Evernote and Feedly. Evernote allows me to capture all of my thoughts and ideas and inspirations, no matter where I am or what device I have accessible. I note all of my content ideas there, as well as To Do lists and other notes, and do most of my writing there as well.

Feedly, on the other hand, is a way for me to keep up with my peers and colleagues, as well as the industry overall. I've subscribed to RSS feeds from key bloggers, news sites, and the press rooms of specific brands that I might actually want to cover in a post.

Alternatively, for my team at SiteSell, our most important tools are Basecamp and Google Docs for planning and collaboration on our content.
#1 Social media channel for content marketing
None. Or All. It really depends on the business, as the platforms themselves are irrelevant. I thrive on Twitter and Google+, while many of my colleagues are killing it on Facebook or Instagram or Pinterest. It's more about which platform is the best fit for you, your organization, and your target audience.
Long detailed vs short snackable content
Both styles of content have their place and purpose. Short, snackable content is useful for building and audience and quick spikes of activity. While long, detailed content is far better for long term performance. Long-form posts, specifically those that hit 2500+ words, will receive exponentially more social shares and organic search traffic over time.
The future of the Content-SEO pair
One of the topics we are talking about a lot at SiteSell right now is keyword research, and the importance of understanding what your audience is searching on today. Or yesterday, to be precise. The future of Content-SEO will lie in more predictive algorithms, where we're seeing major developments in. Triberr, for instance, is working on integrating into their blog sharing platform an algorithm that will accurately predict the social engagement and interest for a particular piece of content.

As this technology advances, businesses and content creators will be able to more accurately judge, not just what has performed well and what people have searched for in the past, but where the demand will be in the future.

KERI JAEHNIG

Founder of Idea Girl Media Twitter: @kerijaehnig
"If we're focusing on content rather than the social component of social media, the leaders are narrowed to YouTube, Instagram, LinkedIn and LinkedIn Slideshare, with Periscope and Blab offering new possibilities."
Branded Content vs Content Brand
I agree that business brands should be building their brand content. Publishing information that establishes credibility in the brand niche is essential! At the same time, it may not make sense for all brands to market themselves as content brands. Yes, we should all be thinking like media companies and publishing content attributed to our brands. But the Startup needs to build, some brands will not value content as others do, and a myriad of other variables...

The key is to produce awesome content, and tell the right stories that positively reflect the brand and nurtures credibility in the niche. Quality over quantity is vitally important.
Your favourite content generation/marketing tools
Priorities for me are:

  • Creating content that is both informational and visually delicious
  • Offering a good balance of my brand content and curated content on social networks
  • Being on the right social networks
  • Hosting webinars to share my ideas and content
  • Improving the relationship with my email list subscribers
By 2018 it is predicted that 84% of communication will be visual. So, I am implementing strategies that speak to that and position myself and my clients to be ready. My current list of favorite tools to accomplish these goals:

Creating - Wordpress formatted blog, Canva At Work, Keynote

Curating & Syndicating - BundlePost, Hootsuite

Social Networks - Right now, my hot button is Instagram!

Online Gatherings - A combination of GoTo Meeting, Webinar Jam, and LeadPages

Email Marketing - I keep coming back to MailChimp, though I have used others.

The one other important tool I think too many leave out: The brain. I keep my brain conditioned to the ever changing landscape of social media and content marketing! I regularly find training on new techniques and tools so I can offer my clients the best possible results in their services.
#1 Social media channel for content marketing
Wow, that's a wide open canvas! The answer will be somewhat relative, because some will prioritize some qualities and components over others.

I'd like to champion the brand blog. But that would be naive. As our society becomes more visual, everything will evolve to serve that. So, if we're focusing on content rather than the social component, the leaders are narrowed to YouTube, Instagram, LinkedIn and LinkedIn Slideshare, with Periscope and Blab offering new possibilities. We must consider where LIVE content will take us! Keep in mind, we may not have even heard of the platform that will be wooing us in a few years' time.
Long detailed vs short snackable content
I believe there will continue to be a need for both. In fact, they can go hand-in-hand. People snack until they need more thorough answers or until you serve them something meatier and more delicious. Marketers should be prepared to offer both in their strategies into the future.
The future of the Content-SEO pair
We have learned from previous processes. It really is ideal for content to fuel SEO, and my belief is the future seems brightest with that in tact. However, we do not control the decisions the search engines make. This is another reason we should be creating both snackable and long, detailed content so we, as brands, can continue to evolve as our marketing landscape changes.

KATHRYN ARAGON

Director of Content for Mirasee Twitter: @KathrynAragon
"There's got to be a middle ground: short and easily consumable content, but rewarding readers with valuable insights and solutions."
Branded Content vs Content Brand
Not necessarily. I do believe there’s value in becoming a content brand, but a lot of resources are needed to accomplish that goal, and content may or may not position you appropriately for your target audience.
Your favourite content generation/marketing tools
I don’t rely on a lot of tools. The ones that spring to mind are: BuzzSumo, Buffer, TweetDis. I’m sure there are others, but these are the ones I’m relying on now.
#1 Social media channel for content marketing
That depends on who you’re targeting and where they hang out online. For B2B, LinkedIn. For consumer and new business, Facebook. Others may be useful to reach specific goals, but for outreach and exposure, I see these two leading the pack.
Long detailed vs short snackable content
From what I see, long-form content is impressive. It can build credibility and authority very quickly. But few people have time to consume it. Short content tends to be shallow, and doesn’t actually solve the problems they promise to solve. There’s got to be a middle ground: short and easily consumable, but rewarding readers with valuable insights and solutions.
The future of the Content-SEO pair
I think they’re joined at the hip. Content isn’t complete until it’s been optimized for search and for conversions.

DOUG KESSLER

Creative Director and Co-Founder, Velocity Twitter: @dougkessler
"SEO will split into two disciplines: one will be all about hygiene and on-page discoverability. The other will essentially be content marketing (including promotion of content)."
Branded Content vs Content Brand
Every company that creates and distributes branded content is building a content brand as they do it.

But there's a big step beyond that: creating an 'owned media' play with a purely editorial stance -- like American Express Open Forum or VanWinkels, the site about sleep, produced by Casper, the mattress people.

An owned media play may not be for every brand. It's a long-term commitment and returns could take a long time.

But for many, it's a great strategy
Your favourite content generation/marketing tools
Evernote – to capture ideas and outlines.

Google Analytics – to monitor what's happening

Google Docs – for writing stuff that a wider team can review

Slack – for collaborating

Wordpress – for publishing content

Slideshare – for distributing embeddable stories
#1 Social media channel for content marketing
For B2B, Twitter and LinkedIn are front-runners.

Facebook is always the gorilla in the room.

Specialist communities like Spiceworks are great if you have one in your market.
Long detailed vs short snackable content
It's not a battle. Both have their place.
The future of the Content-SEO pair
SEO will split into two disciplines: one will be all about hygiene and on-page discoverability.The other will essentially be content marketing (including promotion of content).

CHAD POLLITT

Co-Founder, Relevance Twitter: @ChadPollitt
"As brands, we need to understand our buyers' personas, their journey, and the problems we can help them solve along the way."
Branded Content vs Content Brand
That’s a loaded question, indeed. As a company that considers itself a “content brand,” I naturally would recommend that shift. However, not all organizations are ready to make that shift yet. Unfortunately, most marketers’ heads are filled with helium. We tend to let our brains float up-funnel when calculating how to solve sales and marketing challenges. Most marketing professionals are guilty of this and content marketers are no exception.

If an organization can’t get its branded content (mid to bottom-funnel content) right how are they going to get its top-funnel content right, too? They’re not. And if they do, becoming a “content brand” is a waste of time, energy and money if there’s no performing mid to bottom-funnel content to truly close the loop between Sales and Marketing. It becomes a giant Inside Sales bottleneck. In this scenario, marketing conversion rates would likely be through the roof, but the sales conversion rates would be miniscule at best.

Organizations should only shift to a “content brand” model if it has a firm grasp on its funnel, buyer personas, lifetime value of customers, and the customers’ journey.
Your favourite content generation/marketing tools
Aside from the obvious content broadcasting channels, like social media and email, we use a tool that most likely don’t – a CRM. Since 95% of the content that we publish on a daily basis is created by people outside of our organization, a CRM is critical for us to keep track of, monitor, communicate with and send reports to our over 200 unique content contributors on a regular basis. Without our HubSpot CRM we wouldn’t be able to manage so many unique contributors.
#1 Social media channel for content marketing
That’s hard to answer because many of the social-behemoths are just now developing tomorrow’s tools to maximize their value as content marketing distribution platforms. Many of us are well aware of Facebook’s new “Instant Articles” feature. In its current form it likely doesn’t have much use for content marketers. However, this will likely change in the near future.

Just a few weeks ago, both Twitter and Google announced a partnership to create their version of Facebook’s Instant Articles. It’s not developed yet, but it’s coming. Lastly, after a conversation with a LinkedIn employee recently, we should expect its response to both Facebook’s Instant Articles, and Twitter and Google’s partnership soon.

How this battle plays out will be largely determined by which brand can provide the most value to publishers and content marketers at the fairest price. The most innovative will win and I can’t wait to watch it unfold.
Long detailed vs short snackable content
I don’t consider this a battle. There’s a place for both. In fact, they can, and should, complement each other. As brands, we need to understand our buyers’ personas, their journey, and the problems we can help them solve along the way. Some will need short-form content, while others will need long-form. Our channels of distribution will help dictate some of this, too. The brand that serves both of these needs has a better chance of growing revenue incrementally than the brand that chooses just one.
The future of the Content-SEO pair
"SEO and content marketing are still not one and the same. However, they’re much more similar to each other today than what they were last decade. In this future the content itself may not necessarily be the driving force behind organic search success. However, how the content is presented and consumed would be.

This way of thinking didn’t just grow out of thin air. Google has hinted at this for a while now and is building an infrastructure to support it."

LARRY KIM

Founder/CTO, WordStream Twitter: @larrykim
"As social timelines and search results just continue to become more competitive, content-SEO really boils down to survival of the fittest."
Branded Content vs Content Brand
There are certainly a lot of industries where this (shift towards becoming a content brand) makes sense, for example, if your product or service is more of a solution-sale.
Your favourite content generation/marketing tools
BuzzSumo is my hands-down favorite content discovery and analysis tool right now. Facebook Ads and Twitter Ads are a close second, so much so that I dedicated my entire INBOUND 2015 presentation to making them do backflips with social advertising hacks that can increase your engagement and conversion exponentially. LinkedIn is also an important content marketing tool for me; I publish regularly and am often featured in Pulse.
#1 Social media channel for content marketing
Facebook, without question. No one else is even close to touching them on the sheer size of their audience, the amount of time people spend there, and the level of intent gleaned from the insane amount of user data they’re collecting. In fact, I wrote an article recently on the 8 Coolest Targeting Features in Marketing Right Now, and five of them are within Facebook Ads, so what does that tell you?
Long detailed vs short snackable content
At WordStream, we often use a longer piece of content as the basis for several smaller, more “snackable” pieces tailored for specific audiences. Why not do both?
The future of the Content-SEO pair
There are some strong headwinds ahead. The organic reach of social posts is near zero. Paid ads crowd out all of the keywords with high commercial intent. Only a smaller number of truly remarkable brands will end up winning at SEO/Content, which brings us back to question #1: if your plan is to dominate your space as a “content brand,” you really have to bring it. You need to be top shelf from content quality to promotion to managing your community, or you’re going to get eaten alive. Well, it’s more likely you’re wither up and slowly fade away, which is even worse. As social timelines and search results just continue to become more competitive, content-SEO really boils down to survival of the fittest.

SUSAN TUCKER

Digital Marketing Strategist at Get Susan Marketing LLC Twitter: @GetSusanMktg
"As far as getting content out there to the most people, I think Facebook wins due to their sophisticated advertising platform."
Branded Content vs Content Brand
I think that tactic (of building a content brand) can work for a lot of organizations, but not all. For me, it always goes back to what is resonating for the customer. Who are your buyers and how can you position your content (branded or not) to best attract them.
Your favourite content generation/marketing tools
I use a variety of tools for my daily content from Google Alerts to Canva for visual content. I also use the social platform Hootsuite (their suggested posts feature is fabulous), Zerys for freelance writers to assist with blog posts, ebooks, whitepapers and other pieces of content and Twitter for following trending hashtags.
#1 Social media channel for content marketing
Since content marketing runs the gamut of long-form, visual and snackable they can all bring different benefits. As far as getting content out there to the most people, I think Facebook wins due to their sophisticated advertising platform. For business related content, it's absolutely LinkedIn.
Long detailed vs short snackable content
There is, and always will be, a place for both to live on the internet. There are so many diverse personalities that consume content in a different way. Some of us are more quick and visual and for us - snackable wins. But, for others who are more analytical, the long-detailed will win. It's always about your buyers and what they will be most appealing to them.
The future of the Content-SEO pair
Just as social media marketing is really just marketing. Content-SEO are now married and I love that search engines are delivering more user-friendly results, so content really does have to be of a higher quality and with the customer in mind, rather than there for SEO purposes.

JOEL KLETTKE

Writer at Businesscasualcopywriting.com Twitter: @JoelKlettke
"Instead of looking for magic bullets, marketers need to wake up to the fact that their audiences are human beings with habits and proclivities, and it's our job to reach them on whatever platforms they already use."
Branded Content vs Content Brand
This is a loaded question, but I think the answer is inevitably "maybe". Being a "content brand" doesn't make sense for every brand out there, and I also caution against brands seeing content marketing as their only or best option by default. In this mad rush for every brand to become a content brand, customers are being forgotten, as are core competencies. Being a "content brand" won't make sense for everyone, and that's OK.
Your favourite content generation/marketing tools
I keep things pretty simple; almost comically so. I use Trello to keep organized and Word (gasp!) to write posts with, though I'm trying out Scrivener to see how I like it. For promo, I use Topsy, advanced Google searches, BuzzSumo (to see what others are doing) and basic, hands-on eavesdropping in public forums like Reddit, Quora, etc.

And then, good ol' fashioned email. It's not the tools - it's how you use them.
#1 Social media channel for content marketing
The problem with this question is that it assumes all audiences want, need or expect the same things. There is not and will never be a "#1" social platform for content marketing, because the content being marketed differs greatly, as do the people being marketed to. Snapchat, for example, is a brilliant platform for reaching young people and creating loyal audiences - but then again, Pinterest is a shoe-in for visual content targeted at audiences of women, and Instagram is a powerful community builder, too.

Instead of looking for magic bullets, marketers need to wake up to the fact that their audiences are human beings with habits and proclivities, and it's our job to reach them on whatever platforms they already use.
Long detailed vs short snackable content
Neither, because it's a false battle. Sometimes, long, detailed content is the best format for the audience. It seems to do well in search, and ebooks/whitepapers can work great as lead gen. But then, at another stage of the funnel, or with a different audience, short and snackable content is the best way to reach them because they are short on time/attention span in the context in which they consume that content.

Again, content creators and marketers need to eject themselves from this false dichotomy and stop looking for a universal truth in content. There is NO best content format, there is NO best content length. There is your audience and what they want - and your ability to give it to them. End of story.
The future of the Content-SEO pair
More collaboration, I'd suppose. We're already seeing SEO turn into less of a job unto itself and more of a consideration across multiple disciplines. I'd suspect that will continue. SEO is just one of a myriad of reasons to invest in content, and any time it becomes the ONLY reason or the sole focus, problems happen.

SHARON HURLEY HALL

Professional Writer and Blogger Twitter: @SHurleyHall
"If you're consistently producing awesome branded content that speaks to and engages your core audience without a sales pitch, you're already a content brand, so you might as well be strategic about it."
Branded Content vs Content Brand
If you're consistently producing awesome branded content that speaks to and engages your core audience without a sales pitch, you're already a content brand, so you might as well be strategic about it.
Your favourite content generation/marketing tools
I'm pretty good at coming up with ideas, but there are two tools I use a lot to test their viability. Buzzsumo works well for checking on content popularity and shareability, and CoSchedule's Headline Analyzer is useful for tweaking my planned content title.
#1 Social media channel for content marketing
Who knows? I still remember when MySpace was considered the future of social networking. The only thing that's certain is that whatever we think is great now will eventually give way to something else..
Long detailed vs short snackable content
Does it have to be a battle? There's room for both. Sometimes you need easily digestible content as a pointer to something with more depth you can check out later. The issue for content marketers will be working out which type of content their audience needs when, which means there's really no change.
The future of the Content-SEO pair
Content and SEO will always be joined at the hip, since SEO helps people find your content and good content gets more search prominence. However, no-one knows how SEO will change. SEO today is hugely different from SEO ten years ago - and ten years from now it may be even more different.
RankWatch RankWatch crackitt