Content marketing took a huge step forward in 2015 and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down unless you believe that we have reached the tipping point of the content marketing and 2016 will trend downwards. That may be true for some facets of content, but the dynamic ways in which companies are creating new and varied content isn’t showing any signs of slowing its explosive growth pattern. The past year has seen some of the best and most innovative pieces of content marketing to ever be brought to light, and I would expect 2016 to be no different. But before looking ahead to the coming year, a reflection on the past is always helpful. With that in mind, I wanted to share the best piece of content marketing from 2015. There are many top 10 lists like this that are published every year, one of the best being from Contently.
It’s important to define how something is graded as the best, especially in a format that is as diverse as the content marketing landscape. With platforms ranging from videos to blogs to podcasts and more, comparing one piece to another presents a challenge, and in order to combat that coming up with some parameters is the first step. Three major criteria immediately came to mind; entertainment (no one is interested in a boring piece of content), desire for more content appealing to a wide audience (like a good book or a great movie, the ending leaves one wishing there was more to read or see), and finally, it has to be sustainable. The last one may be the most important in determining the best piece of marketing content in 2015. There were a great many pieces of content deserving of the top spot based on entertainment and the desire for more, therefore separating those pieces from one another requires a further parameter.
Now that there is a clear definition of how the best piece was determined let’s take a look at a couple of content marketing pieces that were great but wouldn’t get the top spot from me for a variety of reasons. The first is this short film by EA Sports, Madden: The Movie; this is a great piece of content and left me wanting more of it, it was that good. The video had everything you could ask for, from a content marketing standpoint. It had a high level of entertainment, appealed to everyone as a very self-aware piece of content, and definitely a piece that was shared many times. If you haven’t seen the video yet I highly recommend taking a look at it. Unfortunately, it’s only a one off piece, that can be repeated with each release of the game but that isn’t enough frequency to place it as king of the mountain.
The second content marketing piece that I thought about was the blog Line//Shape//Space. This blog covers all things manufacturing and building. The future of manufacturing is changing, especially with the advent of 3D printing, and these changes are going to be felt throughout the manufacturing industry and probably in every industry across the globe. This blog does a great job delivering new and fresh content. However, it didn’t quite reach the pinnacle of content marketing efforts for 2015 as it just does not have the mass appeal required to be the best. That said, Line//Shape//Space is an outstanding resource and highly recommended.
As much as I wanted to declare this next piece of content marketing to be the best of 2015 it fell just short of meeting my criteria. GE’s podcast The Message is everything one could want and hope for from a content perspective. In fact, The Message goes far beyond marketing and is great on its own from a pure production and entertainment standpoint. This highly entertaining eight-episode podcast hooked me from the very beginning. If you haven’t yet listened to it then stop whatever you are doing and go listen to the first episode right now. The only thing holding me back from giving The Message the top spot is that once the 8 episodes are over there isn’t anything else that follows it up. If GE continues to create a series like this every year that may cause me to rethink my position as knowing that there is more coming will fulfill my third requirement, that the content is sustainable.
This brings me to what I would call the winner of content marketing for 2015 and one that may come as a bit of a surprise. Van Winkle’s blog, the offspring of the mattress company Casper, is an unbelievable place of content for all things sleep related. This blog checked off all three of my prerequisites, it was highly entertaining despite a topic that may have seemed less than exciting before diving in, it kept me wanting more and always on the lookout for what was next and what new things I could learn, and finally Van Winkle’s is a highly sustainable piece of content marketing. Sleep is something that we all need and most of us enjoy our time at night after a long day. While you may not think that sleep has an abundance of content to explore and that generating enough marketing content would be a next to impossible task, Van Winkle’s does an amazing job of just that. The content of Van Winkle’s is outstanding and easy to digest. The articles are all centered around sleep but that is a vast area of exploration as one can see from the site itself, the content seems to be never ending. Every article I read made me want to read another, from stories about Greek gods to dreams to even PTSD related sleep disorders, Van Winkle’s has something to appeal to everyone. With podcasts and videos becoming the driving force of content marketing it is almost surprising that a blog placed at the top of my list, but it just goes to show that there is no substitute for consistent quality and entertainment. Van Winkle’s has all of that in spades and that is why it landed at the top spot for 2015 content marketing.
A final thought on content marketing and how I came to the conclusion that I did. Van Winkle’s was competing with some outstanding and dynamic pieces of content but was still able to take the throne for 2015 as a blog that focused on one thing done in an extraordinarily creative way. Moving into the new year, dynamic marketing efforts are only going to increase. I would venture to say that this is the last time that a traditional blog format will be as highly regarded, at least for the foreseeable future. There are so many other options; webisodes, podcasts, and films that will be shaping the future of content marketing that it would be a surprise if a blog remained or claimed the top spot.