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Remember 2017? Absolute shit show wasn’t it?

The rise of the alt right, the Brexit political mess, men wearing rompers, and the disappointment that was The Last Jedi.

I’m sure many of us woke up on Jan 1st 2018 with a renewed spring in our step and a song in our hearts, safe in the knowledge that this year can’t be much worse.

Then on Jan 3rd, Donald Trump escalated the world’s tiniest dick swinging contest with this tweet and we all took a deep breath.

So here we go again. Strap in, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

But, we’re not here to talk global politics, we’re here to talk content (apparently). So what does this year have in store?

Content marketing

I think we’re the only people on God’s green earth that didn’t produce a ‘Top trends for 2018’ article this year. And, well, more fool us. They work. And they’ve really worked for a lot of our clients.

So, off the top of my head, here are my content predictions for this coming year: smell-based content, anti-blogging, smart fridge marketing, whispering, the Lady Godiva technique, scarabs, jorts and, of course, video.

But what about people who aren’t just making stuff up on the spot, what do they think? Well, a recent Forbes article cites ROI tracking, volatile content (think Insta or Snapchat stories), dealing with oversaturation and mobile-ready content as key concerns for clever marketers.

Top Rank blog meanwhile, suggests long-form content is back on the menu, consistency and quality are all important, a firm focus on ROI, and marketers starting to get a handle on strange new formats like Amazon Echo and Google Home. “Alexa, find me the emperor’s new clothes.”

Everyone’s favourite tartan-jacketed content guru, Jay Baer, recently posted his 10 content marketing commandments for 2018 including: thou shalt not engage in random acts of content, thou shalt not be a content coward, thou shalt not embrace false metrics, and a load of other ‘thou shalts’ that are tantamount to just saying ‘do content good’.

Meanwhile, in SEO land, Glen Allsopp from gaps.com hedges his bets that the dubious art of #FakeLinks will be the tactic to improve search engine rankings in 2018. This is one of the more fascinating predictions, and it’s backed by some serious research. Whether you buy into the concept or not, it’s a great bit of content. Do a read.

For our money though, the best content advice comes from this piece on Forbes:

  • Ask questions. Identify what you’re missing and how you can improve.
  • Do the math. Take time to track and understand your numbers.
  • Encourage your audience to take action. Don’t allow them to stay passive.
  • Develop a habit for communication. Don’t let the momentum dwindle.
  • Strive to be relevant. Make your content share-worthy.

It’s not ground-breaking, bleeding edge or *gasp* disruptive. But that’s the point. Solid, sensible, actionable advice.

Social media

In a statement on Facebook, the company’s head honcho and chief nerd in every 90s high school ever, Mark Zuckerberg, explained his personal challenge for the new year. In previous years, he’s learnt Mandarin, built AI for his home, and visited every State in the US (which kind puts your ‘eat less carbs’ goal to shame, eh? You lazy sod.)

Anyway, “The world feels anxious and divided,” he says. “And Facebook has a lot of work to do – whether it’s protecting our community from abuse and hate, defending against interference by nation states, or making sure that time spent on Facebook is time well spent. My personal challenge for 2018 is to focus on fixing these important issues.”

A noble aim, Zuck, but we’re our own worst enemies when it comes to social media. As a recent op ed in the New York Times explains, social media is making us dumber (that means more stupid, idiot).

The piece points to the “tribal allegiances [that] are replacing shared empirical understandings of the world” explaining that “anyone who disagrees with you on any controversial subject, even a little bit, is incorrigibly dumb or evil or suspect.” The article centres around the recent shitstorm created by the liberal Jewish author, academic and Harvard professor, Steven Pinker, seemingly praising “the often highly literate, highly intelligent people who gravitate to the alt-right”, calling them “internet savvy” and “media savvy.”

His argument in the full 8-minute clip was far more nuanced than simply praising the alt-right, but that didn’t stop people from both left and right leaping on his comments with venom and vitriol. The fact is, people rarely scratch beneath the surface of arguments, taking at face value what they’re presented with. For years, the media has been selectively pulling out ‘the story’ to fit their narrative. Now, we’re doing it ourselves.

The message for content marketers and social media bods is: choose your words carefully, work on your headlines and, think before you write. Yes, we want to be agile, turn around blog and social media posts in quicktime, but don’t replace thought with speed.

Oddly, one media giant trying to combat the issue of ‘bubble blindness’ is Buzzfeed with their ‘outside your bubble’ page. The box, nestled at the bottom of articles, pulls in alternative views on stories from across social media so you don’t have to. Nifty.

What about social media trends for this year?

In a recent article for Campaign, Daniel Gilbert, chief executive, Brainlabs cites VR/AR, social TV and transparency as key themes, naming Instagram as his platform to watch for 2018. So there we go, time to launch your social VR TV station on Insta. What are you waiting for?

Away from content, Tech Insider recently interviewed Sophia, the world’s first robot citizen.

For all those people that have said it’s a bit freaky, have you seen who’s in the White House right now? At least she can string a coherent sentence together.

So: Sophia 2020?

If we’re gonna die in a nuclear fallout, I’d prefer it to be at the hands of a robot rather than a narcissistic orange nitwit.

Have a great weekend!

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I’m the Head of Content for Future Content and the man in charge of words. As a former journalist for a number of publications, from Chat to MailOnline to that’s Shanghai, I have a wealth of editorial experience and a way of making words do good.