When it comes to creating content — and content marketing more broadly — the rules of the game are always changing. As technology advances and consumer expectations shift, content professionals have to adapt, or risk being left behind.

With 2018 just kicking off, I’ve compiled a list of tech trends that can help every content professional. These trends focus on how content will be created, found, delivered, and consumed in the future. They should therefore be top of mind for everyone who uses content to communicate with their target audience.

1. The rise of voice search

According to ComScore, 50 percent of consumers will interact with voice-activated technology by 2020. As voice searches increase, through devices like Amazon Echo and Google Home, how people find content, and the content they’re directed to, will change.

Voice searches tend to be more conversational in nature. As a result, content marketers need to structure their content so that voice search engines recognize it and understand its meaning and context. Voice searches are longer than traditional searches, with more keywords. They tend to ask explicit questions with words like “who,” “what,” “how,” and “why.”

Practically speaking, that means there’s going to be a new focus on creating content that answers questions around high-value keywords, phrases, and topics. As a content professional, you’ll need to understand how search engines provide answers and adapt your strategies to make your content visible and searchable across all formats.

2. Immersing consumers in virtual reality

The rise of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) is predicted to explode, with AR and VR spending forecast to reach $17.8 billion in 2018. Content marketers need to get on board quickly and take advantage of these new tactics for reaching consumers. The easiest way to start is to remake existing content for 3D viewing and interaction. However, marketers need to realize that not only are their target markets going to expect VR/AR, but that this immersive technology is incredibly valuable in creating better connections and relationships with consumers.

Sony, Facebook, and Apple have all made investments in VR and AR, and Google has even released its own VR-enabled smartphone (Pixel) and its own VR platform (Daydream). Just as Google penalizes websites for not being mobile responsive in its rankings, it’s likely in the future that content designed for 3D viewing will perform better from a search perspective.

3. Using Artificial Intelligence to curate and create better content

Creating and disseminating successful content in today’s market is a huge task. AI is improving content production by making it more predictive, personalized, and productive. Valuable user data and machine learning algorithms are enabling content marketers to identify consumer intent and target them with relevant content at all stages of the marketing funnel.

Content marketers will increasingly use AI to quickly create high-quality content that’s on-brand, easier to translate, and whose potential performance is understood before it ever gets published. To keep up with the pressure of creating innovative, interesting, and useful content on a daily basis, content marketers need to look at how AI can make their efforts more focused and the ROI for the content they produce higher.

4. Video and live streaming become essential

When it comes to using video to communicate about your brand and business, the statistics are clear. People are four times more likely to watch a video about a product than to read about it. The average video post generates 135 percent greater organic reach than photos. And, by 2019, video content will account for 80 percent of all global internet consumption. Video is an extremely powerful way to engage with customers, and they want more. In fact, 43 percent of people want to see more video content from marketers.

In 2018, it’s not just video production that will increase, but live-streaming will become core to online content. Studies have shown that viewers spend eight times longer on live video than on-demand. Content marketers will have to concentrate their efforts on creating explainers, product demonstrations and how-tos, as well as look for opportunities for live-stream events, interviews with influencers, and Q&As.

The immediate, interactive nature of live streaming gives customers the closest experience to real-life conversation. It also creates engagement you can’t replicate in traditional social content.

5. Automated chat technology

The use of automated chat technology — or chatbots — has been growing quietly. Business Insider says that 80 percent of businesses will use chatbots in some capacity by the end of 2020. Companies that use chatbots report higher customer satisfaction, quicker service, and higher conversions. People like them because they offer an efficient, yet personalized service. And, they don’t need to leave the environment of their preferred apps or download a new one.

Chatbots aren’t too expensive for non-tech companies to invest in, and they can integrate with a range of messaging services. When you consider that nearly two billion people use WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and WeChat, then the potential reach for marketers is huge. If marketers want to use technology for better results, then investing in chatbots is an excellent starting point. As a content professional, it will be up to you to figure out how to use these new channels to communicate with your audience.

Staying ahead of the pack

The secret to successful content marketing is to always look at what’s on the horizon. As consumers become more sophisticated and technology more advanced, content marketers have to constantly innovate, adopt, and adapt to survive.

With 2018 upon us, make sure you’re thinking of these tech trends and how you can take advantage of them in everything you do.

What is the impact of content quality on brand trust? Can you measure it? Does better content lead to more sales? Our latest research report answers these questions and more.