You may have heard the saying: 'content is king'. Cheesy, yes. True? Absolutely not. Content IS the internet. So what's in-store for content in 2012? Here are five key trends...
1. Search remains central to user experience. People will continue to use search engines to find what they are looking for in the first instance, especially Google. If you want to be found, you need to be smart - know your target keywords, update your blog and ensure your site is rich with valuable and targeted content.
2. Social circles explode. Facebook and Twitter were delivered a blow by Google last week. The search behemoth launched Google+, which favours its own results over others in the SERPs. Will it be huge? Sure, they've got their cash-cow search engine to help ensure that. But Google have failed in this area before - and the online debate about antitrust, monopolisation and viability won't help. Watch this space, and be prepared to integrate Google+ into your content plan this year. You'll also see more vertical platforms pop up, e.g. Touristlink; plus check out Pinterest for something refreshingly different.
3. Budgets may grow, and so will expectations. Rising confidence in the effectiveness of digital content will see many content budgets increase in 2012 - more this year than in any previous year. With additional spend comes increasingly ambitious ROI and growth targets. Content is now widely adopted as a core metric in improving conversions so it makes sense to measure it, as you would other key parts of the business.
4. Your real voice, not your phone-voice. You know how some people answer the phone like they've suddenly become this weird corporate robot? I think about 95% of websites sound like this too. Maybe it didn't matter a few years ago, but you're facing fierce competition in 2012. This year, it's all about keeping it real to stay ahead, so inject some personality into your webpages.
5. Optimise for on-the-go. Smartphones and tablets have become more popular in recent years (understatement of the century). In 2012, 94% of smartphones users will access the internet from their device and overall mobile internet usage will increase by 17.1% - mobile stats that should not be ignored. Make sure your website content is optimised for mobile devices, consider a .mobi site and create a mobile application for even more digital love.
I'd be really interested to see what other people think when it comes to content trends in 2012. There are undoubtedly more trends than the five I've mentioned above, and I'm sure there will be a few surprises thrown in as well.