Content marketing certainly keeps us on our toes. It’s complex yet flexible, vulnerable to the whims of innovation and experimentation that can change its identity year after year.

So what can we expect to see in the content marketing world in 2019? Will video continue to dominate? What kind of content do audiences want to see from brands? Which formulas still have value and which ones are ready for either an upgrade or full-on retirement? What trends, tools and techniques are content marketers eager to leave behind in 2018?

While only time can truly tell, considering potential answers to these questions can help us paint a picture of what the content marketing landscape will look like in the new year. If anything, it’s a great excuse to take a break from your personal reflections and resolutions and focus on a different set of 2019 goals.

We asked 12 industry experts for their predictions and opinions on the matter. Here’s what they had to say:

What trends do you foresee being important in content marketing for 2019?

These experts must be on to something because we saw some interesting overlap in the answers to this first question, especially when it comes to the power video will continue to have in 2019 and changes in strategic approaches.

Kaleigh Moore, Content writer and consultant for eCommerce and software platforms

“I think video is going to continue to be increasingly important. Static content isn’t enough: users want engaging, interactive experiences with visual context that make it fast and easy to understand ideas. Attention spans are shorter than ever – we have to accommodate that, even if it means repackaging existing content.”

Jimmy Daly, Marketing Director at Animalz

“The scope of content strategy has really changed this year. We see more companies embracing the nuances – they are seeking ways to leverage content in very specific ways instead of simply using it to drive top of funnel traffic. Rather than asking ‘How should we use content?’ more companies are asking ‘How could content help us solve existing sales and marketing problems?’

I’m expecting this trend to continue into 2019. Content marketing can be complex. It’s best to acknowledge that and plan accordingly.”

Shane Barker

“Here are some of the key trends that will dominate the content marketing landscape in 2019:

Increased focus on content marketing strategy: Marketers are realizing the importance of content marketing and are now considering it an important part of their marketing strategy. Currently, only 43 percent of marketers have a clearly documented content strategy. But this number is likely to increase in 2019. This is because marketers are now realizing the importance of having a clear content strategy in the success of their campaigns.  

The continued rise of video content: Video content is going to be the most popular and fastest growing content format in 2019 and beyond. The increasing popularity of video sharing platforms like YouTube and Twitch are further driving this trend. According to a Cisco study, by 2021, 82 percent of all online traffic will be video content.

Brands will create more niche content: To stand out from the crowd, brands need to either create really creative, high-quality versions of popular content or niche content. A lot of brands are realizing that the former option is more difficult and expensive, and hence are focussing more on niche content. Creating niche content helps brands find white spaces to compete in otherwise highly competitive industries.

Increase in influencer content: With the growing popularity of influencer marketing, an increasing number of brands will collaborate with influencers to generate branded content. 2019 will see a rise in both sponsored and non-sponsored influencer content, across all social media platforms.”

Lee Price, Consultant at Rep Cap Media and Co-Founder of Managing Editor Magazine

Here’s what I’m seeing right now: Content marketing has changed a lot in the past 10 years. The landscape in almost every industry is exponentially noisier these days, and getting louder every week. That means the old trusty formulas for success just don’t work anymore. To stand out, you have to be authentic, human and say something new. I’ve compared notes with other B2B marketers and many of us have found that anything published by a human (like from a someone’s personal LinkedIn account, with their name and face attached) is performing MUCH better than the same content posted by a brand.

People are interested in what Annie has to say, even if they scroll right past what your company says online. That’s a big opportunity for leaders and marketers who have big, controversial, new ideas and aren’t afraid to put them out there tied to their personal brand. TL;DR: Be human. Have something to say. And say it loud.”

Bob Cargill, Marketing consultant and copywriter at Cargill Creative

“Audio and video will be the dynamic duo.

Audio: There is no question that podcasts are more predominant today than ever before, and that this trend will only continue into the year 2019. Like video, audio is an intimate medium. You feel like you know somebody when you listen to him or her on a regular basis. So, podcasts have a credibility factor that is simply impossible to achieve with written content alone.

Podcasts also lend themselves to today’s busy “out and about” lifestyles. Everybody is on the go. Nobody has time anymore to sit down, relax and read a long article. Besides, we are practically tethered to our smartphones. Earbuds are de rigueur. Bluetooth? Even better.

I’ve had a blog since 2004. My podcast, which I launched early this year, has far more followers already than my blog does subscribers. That tells me all I need to know about the power and popularity of audio content.

Video: Thanks to the emergence of affordable, new technologies and the continued proliferation of social media, video, especially ‘live’ video, will continue to take off throughout 2019. Video is the next best thing to being there. And in this era of fake news and an oversaturated audience, consumers and constituents of all kinds appreciate the authenticity, transparency and immediacy that video coverage makes possible.

Smart, savvy businesses and brands know that video cuts through the clutter of unimaginative communications, and the social media algorithms appear to favor video over many other, if not all other forms of content. If they have not already, marketing professionals would be wise to get comfortable both behind and in front of the camera.”

Lauren Landry, Associate Director of Marketing and Communications, Harvard Bus. School

“In 2019, I foresee brands taking a more integrated approach to content marketing—or at least that’s my hope. Too often, companies prioritize quantity over quality, creating content for the sake of volume rather than necessity. They publish a quick blog post, add new emails to their flow without editing the old, or launch a flashy video series to solve an immediate need or respond to an emerging trend without thinking about the bigger picture or how each piece of content feeds into the user journey.

It’s easy to operate in silos when you take that approach, and that’s a detriment to your customers. Brands today need to rethink their marketing funnel and evaluate how they’re addressing users’ needs throughout their entire journey – not just one piece of it. Because of that, I think you’ll see a greater shift to lifecycle marketing, where you’re creating content and experiences that support your prospective customers at every stage of their decision-making process, from awareness to purchase to satisfaction. This requires an integrated approach focused on answering, ‘What does our user truly need right now?’ as opposed to creating content for content’s sake.

I also think it will be important for companies to prioritize transparency and authenticity. People engage when they feel like a brand knows who they are, what they need, and delivers on their promise. In a world of branded content, where the lines are often blurred between value and profit, and one too many data breaches, there’s a growing distrust among customers. It’s important for brands to win that trust back and speak honestly about their products and services, be upfront about their pricing, address issues immediately and own up to their mistakes.”

Louis Grenier, Content Lead at HotJar

“I expect content marketers to act more and more like investigative journalists: researching each of their stories in more detail, making sure that their readers are actually searching for this content, going deep (and not wide) into super-specific and practical pieces that are the best answers possible on the topic (like this piece we published recently on improving customer experience, which is 14,000-word long and contains 97 quotes). Let’s face it, content marketing is not new. Michelin, the tire company from my hometown Clermont-Ferrand (France), started a guide to help cyclists to discover places to go (and use their tires quicker so they buy a new set soon) more than a century ago.

What is new however is every company is now ‘doing’ content marketing. If you want to truly stand out, the only way is to double down on what always worked in journalism: super-specific, practical, original, well-researched content, featuring experts, customers, and other thought leaders.”

Ross Hudgens, CEO of Siege Media

“In 2019 one thing I see evolving more is the idea of moving towards search clicks instead of search volume, and also on-SERP SEO. As Google eats more and more of our traffic via SERP features, it’s up to us as marketers to combat that by being smarter about choosing the right search results to go after to deliver the most results for our clients and websites. Also, when we *do* rank, we can push even harder to drive clicks via CTR tests and the like in order to maximize that and also, be smart about how the SERP features show our content/what we can do to potentially drive more clicks to our sites by thinking about things like using language that drives a click vs just a view on-SERP.”

Julia McCoy, CEO of Express Writers, Author & Course Educator

“I predict that if more marketers celebrate what it takes to create successful content, content calendars are going to look very different in 2019 and beyond. I see trust-based content becoming the Content Leader (King, Queen, you-name-it) in 2019. I think we’re going to see more authenticity from the brands that rise to the forefront of their industries. The true story of the founder, from failures to successes: transparency in the executive team, real-life anecdotes from customers and employees on the company blogs – those will win buyer trust in the content calendar for 2019. Today and tomorrow’s winning content is about human connection. And how better to bridge that gap than through telling real stories? Focus on your real-life successes and failures, and tell those to your human audience.”

Brittany Berger, Content marketing consultant

“Repurposing website content into native social media content, I think, will become more important out of necessity in 2019. The way social networks and their users alike want brands to use social media is changing, and has been for years now. Sharing a simple headline and link as a main way of promoting your content is becoming way less effective. Even if the post can break through algorithms that prefer content on the network itself, users scrolling through their feed aren’t looking to go read a huge blog post, they want to stay on the network too.

I think this year a lot of brands wised up to that, but are struggling to figure out how to adapt. You see a lot of marketers struggling to create enough native content for every place their brand is active. But when people want native Facebook posts, Instagram videos, and tweet threads, what can you do? One thing is to more strategically reformat content from thost blog posts you want to promote, into native content on social platforms.”

David Sherry, Writer for Creative Caffeine and founder of Death to Stock Photo

Communities: I think everything is shifting to communities, so brands need to think less about individual attention and more about connected attention. Building communities with shared passions and goals, and then using content to fuel internal discussions and prompt the growth. Content marketing should no longer teach, rather it should set the stage for self-learning.

Design: There’s now a much higher bar for the quality threshold of your design. Not that things need to be crazy or overcomplicated, but design is crucial for building trust and a brand around what you do.”

What tools or techniques flopped in 2018 and should be abandoned in the new year?

This question called for some moments of reflection. The answers highlight telling insights that we can use to shift our mindsets going into the new year.

Lauren Landry, Associate Director of Marketing and Communications, Harvard Bus. School

I don’t think it was one tool or technique that flopped. Rather, what I think was more problematic, was brands knee-jerk reacting to each trend and creating content without thinking through the true benefits to their user. It’s easy to say, ‘Video is growing in popularity. Let’s slow down blog production and focus on video.’ For some brands, that’s the right decision. For others, their users might actually prefer long-form content. It doesn’t need to be an either/or. You need to know your audience and create content accordingly.”

Ross Hudgens, CEO of Siege Media

“In 2018, I’m not sure much flopped necessarily, but our thinking did evolve from communicating search volume for our clients to communicating search clicks’ upside instead. Tools like Ahrefs now show you clicks/search, which is much more useful when people are only clicking results 50 percent of the time.”

Julia McCoy, CEO of Express Writers, Author & Course Educator

“In 2018, we saw a lot of repetition in the field between content marketers, brands and publications. The same old, same old topics were hashed out in the same ways, simply because it’s what ‘best practices’ recommended or ‘what was on the content calendar.’

I also think that the overdone ‘salesy’ sales funnels of 2018 and prior will become obsolete in the future of marketing. Yes, I said it. Why? It doesn’t describe the way marketing should work anymore. We are content marketers. We’re not looking to grab the attention of people who aren’t in our audience, and we don’t want to dump our people at the end of a funnel. We want to take a more nurturing stance that encourages people to stay in our circle: join our community of readers, buyers, and evangelists. I think it’s time to replace the sales funnel with a marketing flowchart and lifecycle. I predict we’ll see this happen in the New Year and beyond. “

Larry Kim, CEO at Mobile Monkey

“In 2018 Facebook organic news feed reach declined dramatically while ad prices doubled, making it increasingly difficult for content marketers to get visibility for their campaigns. To overcome these challenges, content marketers should look to Facebook Messenger marketing as a new content distribution channel. Provided you have subscription messaging approved for your Facebook page, you can send content to your contacts, which will typically generate +70 percent read rates and +20 percent click-rates – over 100x better than email marketing, for free!

Currently, because this is so new, less than 1 percent of companies do chat-based marketing (which is crazy) but you can bet it will pick up in 2019 as Facebook introduces new messaging APIs for WhatsApp and Instagram.”

Brittany Berger, Content marketing consultant

“I feel like there was so much hype around IGTV, and saw a lot of content marketers think they needed to create content for it. But while IGTV has a lot of promise, it’s not mature enough to deserve tons of your time and attention yet, at least in most cases. In my own experimentation, that time and energy was always better spent creating another type of video, like for Instagram Stories or the feed, or putting a longer form video on Facebook and YouTube.”

David Sherry, Writer for Creative Caffeine and founder of Death to Stock Photo

Fake authenticity – we’d rather see you just be congruent with who you are than to ‘have a voice.’ I’m personally not of the opinion that you should create ‘personas’ or create a persona for yourself. You should actually remove as much of the *shoulds* from the equation, pursue what you’d like based on your interests and desires, and simply share that along the way.

Every blogger can build an audience if they’re 95 percent (not needed to be 100 percent) honest and transparent and can create media that articulates how they feel. The problem is, most people try and fit in a box instead of just being creatively free to express, lead, connect or teach.”

The takeaways

We’ve been talking about authentic content for a while now, and it appears the conversation will continue in 2019. People want to engage with genuine brands, and they’re only getting better at sniffing out the forced authenticity from the real thing. That means your audience is likely to drive the changes you make in 2019, as you experiment with new approaches to build trust and loyalty.

Remember that sincerity is one thing, but how you deliver content is just as important. Never skimp on quality because you’ll only disappoint your audience when you produce the bare minimum. If it means going the extra mile to employ better editorial, design and video production talent in 2019, it could be worth it to see the results that stack up with your goals. However, flashy content won’t do if you don’t have the genuine substance to back it up. Shape your approach so that you aren’t cutting corners in any aspect of content creation and distribution.

While these predictions have incredible value for planning ahead, you’ll of course still want to keep an eye out for the unexpected. You can never be too prepared for the content marketing gods to throw a curveball.

Stevie Snow is a writer at Brafton. Yes, she is named after Stevie Nicks. She’s a believer in "to life, to life, l’chaim!" because life is what brings us the Obamas, a really smooth vodka tonic and that moment on the dance floor when your favorite banger plays.