Most years, I review industry leaders and gather their thoughts for a blog on content trends. Outside of the hand-wringing about AI, however, most “trends” I’ve read about are tactical, not strategic. Like seeds on a dandelion puff, they will disappear before the first winter snow.
Instead, here are content trends for 2023 that I think have staying power.
Content trend 1: AI as an indispensable tool, not a job thief
I don’t know if AI qualifies as a content trend for 2023 but I’d be remiss if I didn’t address it.
Spreadsheets. The internet. Smartphones. Cryptocurrency. Web 3.
Once upon a time, each of these was billed as either the best thing since indoor plumbing or as the end of society as we know it. Other than the internet, I’m not so sure.
Generative artificial intelligence, while a wonderful tool, is not the threat to jobs that some would have us believe. Large language models are fabulous tools for any writer; I rely on Chat GPT and Claude.ai for help with basic writing tasks. But these are just tools, like grammar checkers, thesauruses, and spelling checkers. None of these have put editors out of work; AI isn’t going to replace writers any time soon.
Few technologies end up being used the way inventors originally imagined. While you can do really nifty things with spreadsheets, they haven’t put accountants and bookkeepers out of work–far from it.
Setting aside the serious ethical and moral concerns for a moment, technical issues like hallucinations mean human-authored writing will be needed for a long time to come. If you’ve read any AI-generated content lately, you’ll know what I mean.
Content trend 2: Empathy is a balm for the soul
This may not sound like a content trend for 2023–or any other year–but bear with me.
The human race has been through a lot since the 21st century opened its doors for business. We face increasingly severe global challenges like climate catastrophes, political and social upheaval, and pandemics. Many national economies have been flipped upside down at least twice in the last nearly quarter century. The largest European land war since World War II continues with no end in sight. And, as I write this, a new war has exploded in the Mideast.
We could all use a break.
None of us can fix these problems single-handedly, but each of us can do just a little bit.
A small kindness goes a long way. I’ve noticed how warmly my fellow morning walkers respond to a smile and a nod. And that people in cashier lines seem more willing to chat. It feels like we’re all looking for connection and reassurance from each other.
I’m taking a gentler approach to writing, being a little more playful and a lot more sympathetic to the audience. I’m avoiding fear-based content and leaning into positive messages.
I’m also making the time to check in with clients, partners, and team members regularly, to smile more, and to make small kindnesses a part of my day. If nothing else, it makes me happy.
Content trend 3: Not to repeat myself, but quality over quantity
This may not be a content trend for 2023–it may apply across time. I’ve written about it a lot.
I googled “how many videos are uploaded to YouTube.” The results vary, but you’ll get the gist–a lot!
- “3.7 million videos uploaded daily.”
- “On average, more than 150,0000 (sic) new videos are uploaded to YouTube every minute, adding up to around 330,000 hours of video content based on an average video length of 4.4 minutes.”
- “720,000 hours of video are uploaded every day to YouTube.”
And this is just YouTube! I didn’t enquire about email, podcasts, blogs, white papers, or webinars.
Never mind the unworkable math; we’re drowning in content. Enough already. Besides, I’ve got better things to do than create content all day long.
Thoughtful marketers pursue two strategies:
- Repurposing existing content.
- Creating quality content, not volume.
I’d rather be known for my writing chops than my ability to vomit up a word count.
Content trend 4: Attention to inclusion and accessibility
Finally, my last content trend for 2023. I find myself relying more and more on accessibility features on my own devices. But when I’m out and about, it’s another story. Badly written signage, poorly designed user interfaces, and fiddly widgets drive me crazy.
My current pet peeve: wait staff who present a heavy hand-held terminal with a small screen to review and pay the tab. More than one of those things has ended up in my tiramisu. And it always seems to come with the assumption that age means technological stupidity.
I have Parkinson’s disease. Sometimes I can’t hold things, and touch screens don’t always work well for me. (I am not proud of the time I told a high school that my master’s degree in computer science was older than his mother.)
Thank heavens designers and content creators are paying more attention to the needs of neurodiverse audiences. Little things like colors, font size and style, and mobility options make all the difference for those of us with challenges.
As I age, I increasingly appreciate these thoughtful little touches that make a website or device easier to use. I like seeing other old geezers like me navigating the world with the help of–not in spite of–technology.