The Future Series: Social media signals the death of written content… or does it?

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On National Book Lovers Day, we thought it would be a pertinent time to consider the future of the written word. Could books become something of a collector’s item, with rich hipsters stubbornly clutching the last copies of their dog-eared novels? Or will everyone grip onto our paper pals a little longer: savouring the physical act of leafing through pages and taking solace from our busy digital world?

In the past five years, consumer print revenue has diminished, while e-book revenue increased. However, this change hasn’t been as swift as many have expected, indicating it will take quite some time before paperbacks die out completely – if ever.

When it comes to your business’ written marketing content however, it may be a different story. In many demographics, gone are the days of your customers purchasing a monthly mag and perusing articles and adverts. Nowadays, shorter attention spans mean that your ad or article is lucky to get a quick glimpse from readers, unless it’s particularly attention-grabbing. However, not all hope is lost – read on the find out how your business can flourish despite this changing environment.


E-books are becoming popular across most age groups now, and the next trend seems to be audiobooks. While some publishers are labelling them as a passing fad, they forget the simple fact that people are turning to this auditory alternative for one key reason: multitasking. Particularly in the fast-paced business world, executives don’t have the time to sit down with a good book as often as they would like to. Instead, they are filling their spare time during the daily commute with audio versions of the content they’d love to read. An example of this growing trend is the Blinkist app, which takes the process one step further and summarises entire books into short audio snippets, so that by the time you get to work you’ve already read three books – bonus!

Soon enough, we are sure to see books solely created for listening, much the same as podcasts. Phrases will be selected for their spoken impact rather than for a reader’s enjoyment, thus changing the landscape of sentence structure forever. Businesses should take advantage of the opportunity to access their target markets through this new medium and consider offering content to their customers in audiobook and podcast form.

However, the rise of audio content will not mean the end of all written content. As discussed in last week’s blog, Artificial Intelligence is already taking over the task of writing. With current examples like Article Forge, you can now type in almost any topic and algorithms will begin researching. In no time, it will spit out high-quality articles for your use. It can even go several steps further by automatically posting to multiple social media platforms and producing hundreds of alternative articles on the same topic.

But if this content is being automatically generated and posted all over the web, what is its true value, especially if your competition is doing exactly the same thing? We predict that it won’t be these auto-articles which will be popular, but instead the only content worth reading will be personal anecdotal stories mixed with helpful business tips and information.

Not-so-distant future:

When it comes to the internet, consumer preferences are undoubtedly leaning towards flashy video and photo content, making it hard to get a written word in edgewise. And thus enters the constant streamer – much like the movie The Circle, where Emma Watson’s character goes ‘transparent’, we can expect live streams to permeate our lives more and more.

The average business will be expected to be pumping out content at such a rate that much of it will have to be broadcast live, rather than carefully creating weeks in advance. Teams of people will be hired to make sure you can stream live, while still looking professional. You’d better hope you are good at thinking on your feet, because those who impress will be those who can genuinely connect with their audience.

Maybe one day:

The mass amounts of content needed by businesses will bring about new partnerships. We predict that in the same way influencers are hired to promote goods and services, there will be cohorts of businesses who will work together to boost each other’s content. Sharing content produced by brands with common target audiences will take some pressure off marketing teams to create endless content.

Eventually content won’t just be on these primitive devices we call ‘smartphones’ – it will pervade our lives from the moment we wake up to when we go to sleep. With everything in your home becoming ‘smarter’, you can expect the associated advertising or marketing space to come with them. Join us next week as we discuss smart devices and marketing space further and look into why your business should already be on this bandwagon.

We always love hearing your feedback, so if you have any comments or insights you’d like to add, please drop us a line or comment on this article.