For my eighth interview, I sat down with Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer forMarketingProfs. As an avid reader of MarketingProfs over the years, I had become familiar with Ann’s work and thought- leadership. Ann was recently honored byLinkedIn as an “Influencer,” where her articles written for the site are highlighted to millions of LinkedIn users.

Ann is the “Original Chief Content Officer.” I say this to highlight an important theme of our interview – content creation in marketing has become so important that job titles are reflecting this discipline. In 2013, content emerged as the leading tactic for inbound marketing. Take these stats from arecently published report between MarketingProfs and the content marketing institute – 93% of B2B marketers use content marketing and 44% of B2B marketers have a documented content strategy. One disconnect I found in the study was that only 9% rate their content marketing as “very effective,” and the 84 percent of marketers who say they are ineffective at content marketing said they have no documented strategy. What can happen in 2014 to bring content marketers of all sizes into the “very effective” category?

An interesting finding from the study was that, for B2B marketers, 30% of marketing budgets are spent on content, and 43% of all marketers surveyed are using some outsourced content in their strategy. Ann made the comment that “every marketer is a publisher,” and a main trend for 2014 is creating job positions where their core competency is content creation for the company. Companies must begin to organize the company around the production of content, and put someone in charge of the content production. And this is not to say the Director of Marketing is the content specialist, but an additional position at the sea level, creating a “Content Center of Excellence.” Content will take on more of a strategic role, rooted in data, for 2014 and beyond.

The Emergence of Short-Form Content

One of these content avenues that Ann sees emerging and flourishing in 2014 is the use of “Short-form content” – short, but powerful, content on social channels, such as VineSnapchatInstagramand others. Larger companies have started jumping on the short-form bandwagon to varying degrees of success, but anticipate this type of content to be more important to marketers of all sizes in 2014.

Short, sweet, branded and memorable nuggets that help you remember their lip balm next time you are in Target. Speaking of Target, see what they’ve done on Instagram to become one of the top 100 brands on the social network.
Hashtags, holidays and user submissions reinforce Target’s brand while providing a meaningful interaction with their customers. Ann shared “the true power of short-form content is how people engage directly with brands – they form more of an emotional connection with the brand,” and the networks can become storytelling platforms. Take for example, Taco Bell’s foray into Snapchat “Stories” (below), as one of the first major brands to develop a campaign on this platform. Right now, the jury is still out on how successful Taco Bell will be on SnapChat, but with over 905,000 followers on Twitter, they seem to have mastered the quick message social media.

Before your company develops a focus on emerging short-form content networks, Ann offers the following caveat. “There is already an incredible opportunity to engage with content, in social media, and on mobile devices, so nail these marketing channels down first.” She sees print as a way to break through the clutter, as she still looks forward to walking to the mailbox every day. Short-form, long-form, digital or physical – marketing has become all about content, and expect to see an even bigger shift towards content creation, hiring around multi-disciplined content inventors, and a focus on “content that connects” in 2014.