There is a very good reason why fiction authors are not encouraged to write for the ever-changing whims of the market. It takes months to produce a full-length work, if not years. By then, the topic that was selling like hotcakes (zombie fiction, women's fiction about cancer patients, children's tales about talking toys, etc.) might have passed, and the new fad (alien invasions, millionaire boyfriend romances, child wilderness survival stories, etc.) is now all the rage.
In other words, if you write according to what's hot today, by the time the novel is finished you'll find out you were really writing for the past.
Now, what about content marketing? Most content marketing assets don’t take years to make. But the pace of topic changes moves much faster than in fiction. Even a simple blog post, if done right, can take several days, if not weeks, to grow from a seed of an idea to a complete asset ready for publication and social sharing.
If you write for the whims of your target audience today, it is possible that your customers will have moved on to new interests, making your content asset yet another guest that came late to the party. This turns your post into something we call fruitcake. People might like one fruitcake, but more than that and it’s going to be old, stale, and put on the shelf with another dozen uneaten fruitcakes on the table.
So how can you write something for the future and still give it enough polish? How can you successfully predict what topics will be in hot demand days or weeks beforehand? As we'll see, the smart use of AI and predictive analysis in your content planning process can be a big help.
But first, we need to see how things are done now and why it’s the wrong approach.
Data Mining: The Looking at the Past
Without a doubt, data is any content marketer's friend. And we have a glut of it at our disposal: page views, bounce rates, downloads, social shares, likes, and follows, and a host of other points.
Any content marketing team that ignores the benefits of mining this data for insights is looking for trouble. But there are some potential pitfalls. The term "data mining" gives a perfect analogy to understand one of them.If you carve a mine—an actual, physical mine—into a mountain, you are always digging for something from the past. Whether you are mining gold, coal, diamonds, or even fossils or artifacts from ancient civilizations, you are always searching for things that have been in the ground for hundreds, thousands, or even millions of years.
Looking into the past for content ideas can lead to failure, diminished results, and a drop in ROI. Data on past content, such as the numbers of shares or comments or likes, only shows you what your potential customers wanted to see at a point in time. It doesn’t tell you what they'll be interested in a week from now.
To begin predicting for the future, you need some help from more sophisticated technology. Enter predictive analysis.
Predictive Analysis and AI
Just as you can see where a bullet will strike based on the direction the gun is pointing, you can use predictive analysis to predict what your target audience will want in the near future. This helps you plan content pieces that are more likely to bring back returns. And the best part? There is software to help you predict what you should produce next.
This is the power of AI.
Think about this: pro basketball players are able to predict what direction their competition will turn or jump based on where their eyes move just before their body moves. They’ve trained their bodies and their brains to predict where the opponent plans to be next. All this happens in the fraction of a second. That's human intelligence at its best.
AI isn’t quite that far yet, but it’s getting there. Prediction success is getting better and better, especially when you give predictive analysis software an excellent profile of your ideal audience. It can recognize patterns in content consumption, spot new fads when they are just about to blossom, and see what effect content being published right now will have on what readers will want to see next.
The Benefits of Writing for the Future
Now, writing pieces as a direct response to data and feedback does work just fine, and it will always work just fine. It’s got us to where we are today, after all. But if "just fine" isn't good enough for you or your company, if you're looking for a way to beat your competitors (which, by the way, are probably spending money on AI solutions right now), you'll need to go beyond writing for the past or present. You'll need to write for the future with the help of special predictive software solutions.
What can using AI on your side do for you? Here are a few key benefits:
- You'll be able to "hit the mark" more often by delivering content your audience needs, even before they knew they needed it.
- You'll increase trust will your audience, since they'll feel that you understand them better and are in touch with their needs.
- You'll be able to better plan future projects and better predict future revenue.
- You'll avoid annoying your audience by producing content that they're already tired of.
- You'll be seen as a leader in your field, a trendsetter instead of a follower.
As you can see, you don't have to serve up stale fruitcake posts trying to beat others to the punch. By writing for the future, you'll impress your customers and come off looking smarter and quicker than anyone else, all thanks to a little help from AI tools and predictive analysis.
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