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With the popularity of wearable technology continuing to rise, brands need to tailor their content both to these devices and to the shifting needs of the consumers wearing them. According to IDC, the wearables market is expected to double by 2021, thanks in large part to growth in smart clothing and smart devices.

 

Today's common wearables include activity trackers, such as the Fitbit. Smartwatches, like the Apple Watch and the Android Wear watch, are also increasingly common and allow the wearer to access information on the internet via the device on their wrist. And the latest virtual and augmented reality headsets provide companies with the opportunity to create entirely new surroundings for users.

But those are just the beginning.

Smart clothing is coming

Smart garments are in development that could move content use light-years ahead. Samsung's WELT belt, which analyzes your waistline, physical activity and eating habits, was announced at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show. Levi's partnership with Google on the Commuter Trucker Jacket was a big leap forward in terms of how content is accessed — through a tag on a sleeve cuff. The world of wearables now goes all the way down to smart shoes and socks.

Given all the new ways consumers will soon be able to access content, forward-looking communications teams are beginning to think differently about the content their organizations share with target audiences. Fortunately, they'll have more funds to experiment with. Nearly half of marketers predict their organizations' content marketing budgets to increase from 2016 to 2017.

Content needs to shift

The rise of wearable technology will shape how content is consumed — and thus the type of content needed. While consumer reliance on wearables will mean a change in audience segmentation, with segments being defined by the particular wearable(s) used to access content, communication professionals will need to focus on the changing landscape of content itself.

 

Here are some of the key differences between content for wearables and for traditional platforms.

 

Shorter content. Here, shorter is better. The length of written content must be tailored to the size of the device screen it appears on. When you're viewing content on the one-inch square of a smartwatch, for example, you can see far fewer words at any one time. So key messages need to be condensed.

 

More imagery. Graphics are already becoming a dominant force within content marketing, with images now frequently driving content popularity. Whether on a fitness tracker or a website, colorful photos and videos are where content is heading.

 

More audio. At the same time, as technology is woven into clothing, expect a shift away from all-visual content. Voice commands, voice searches and audio content will become more necessary, given the lack of display screens on clothing. But this content still needs to be concise, so brief audio scripts will become essential.

 

More location-specific content. Consumers who rely on wearables to access information via the internet will do so on a just-in-time basis — meaning immediately. And they'll need that information customized for their specific location. So instead of searching for a Chinese restaurant on your desktop computer, you might ask for the closest Chinese restaurants and receive recommendations based on your exact geographic coordinates. Or, a request for a tow truck will yield the name of the closest service and perhaps even connect you automatically. This kind of "hyper-local" information will change as your location changes.

 

An organization's content strategy should evolve with the gradual introduction of wearable technology — and with an understanding that while the way content is delivered and consumed will certainly change, the need for content itself won't.

 

Download our .futurology report to find out more on how your digital communications can integrate with one of the fastest growing device trends.

Marcia Layton Turner is an award-winning freelancer who writes regularly about small business and entrepreneurship. Her work has appeared in Entrepreneur, Bloomberg Businessweek, and Black Enterprise, as well as at Forbes, CNNMoney and Amex OPEN Forum, among dozens of others. 

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