It’s by now a well known fact that the internet moves quickly. In fact, the transmission of ideas, trends, and information now comes at such a fast pace that we’ve needed to develop a whole new vocabulary to discuss it with. Words like ‘viral’ have taken on entire new senses of meaning, while academic terms like ‘meme’ have entered the common vernacular. New words have also been developed, portmanteaus like ‘newsjacking’ or ‘clickbait’ have penetrated our discussions, both on- and offline.
The job of a content marketer is tough enough already: creating quality content is difficult, and it strains that one muscle that’s the hardest to exercise: creativity. But it’s made harder by the constant and consuming need for originality and novelty. The internet is a cruel, demanding mistress (but we love her, don’t we?), and no strategy is forever. Let’s talk about what we can do to develop a strategy that will work now, in two weeks, and in two years. We’re talking about an enduring strategy that doesn’t rely on cheap gimmicks. It’s time for some future-proofing.
Imitation: the quickest way to get ignored
The internet can smell a poser a mile away. Citizens of the internet see imitations of success all the time, from their Instagram feeds to their YouTube videos. Let’s face it: you probably aren’t as cool as you used to be, and you probably don’t quite have a handle on what the kids are doing these days. It’s okay, it’s happens to all of us. Chances are, by the time you hear about a trend, it’s already on its way out.
You know when you see pictures of people, and can immediately guess what decade it was taken because of how dumb their hair looks? You don’t want that to happen to your content. You want to get the most mileage possible out of each and every piece of content, so you don’t want it to date itself.
Imitators are rarely successful. So please, lay off the Grumpycat. Your future visitors will thank you for sparing them the eyeroll.
What to do instead
This is not to say that you shouldn’t allow current trends to inform your content. Just don’t make them your content. Instead of using a clickbait-type headline that is sure to go out of style (One Weird Trick to Future-Proof Your Content), write for perpetuity. Write for the future world where people are sick of Weird Tricks, but might still be curious about how to future-proof their content: How to Future-Proof your Content and Boost Engagement. The idea is to entice without being a tease.
By stripping the trend out of your content, you gain respectability. People won’t see you as a hopeless poser, but rather a mature and interesting source of useful information. It’s okay to provoke some curiosity, but you need to deliver on that curiosity you’ve inspired by providing real, valuable content. Provide actionable, valuable information, and the traffic will bring itself, with or without trends.