Like the years that have preceded it, 2017 has been a time of extensive change in digital and content marketing.
Perhaps it is this rapid rate of revolution that makes our industry so exciting to be a part of. Constantly forced to evolve and forever on our toes, we take a look at the trends that will make waves for businesses and brands in 2018.
#1 – Video Marketing
The industry has been well aware of the rise of video marketing for some time. However if you are yet to take the plunge, 2018 is your year! Moving images are much more engaging on saturated social feeds, and people are more likely to trust a brand when they can see a human face. To date, many businesses and brands have believed that the cost of production is prohibitive to their strategic use of this medium.
Whilst an iPhone and mobile tripod might not be appropriate for a luxury brand, there are more accessible ways to dip into video marketing. For your own original content, try your hand at Snapchat, Instagram or Facebook stories. To create something using stock for multiple platforms, get started with Slidely for free.
#2 – The Rise of Stories
From Snapchat to Instagram and now Facebook, stories are perhaps they easiest way to get started with video marketing. Unlike evergreen content (which still has its place), there’s something particularly exciting about original, ephemeral content that won’t be around forever.
Instagram Stories is a particularly favoured tool amongst social audiences for their own content creation. It allows them to escape the production pressure of committing their content to what ‘should’ be a manicured Instagram feed.
Buy-in to this by making good use of user-generated content. The digital arm of word-of-mouth or viral marketing, user-generated content is no longer just about celebrities and influencers. Audiences are still far more likely to trust their peer group, even if (or especially if) that person doesn’t take paid endorsements.
#3 – Edited Authenticity
We’ve talked for years about original content being ‘the best.’ This year in particular has seen the term ‘authentic’ thrown about with carefree regularity. However we have to think about what this means in reality, especially for aspirational and luxury brands.
We need to take a measured approach to ‘authenticity.’ We are, after all, in a world where Insta-famous influencers lose sponsorship deals for posting #nomakeupselfies and fickle followers fall away at the sight of an unedited photo. Polished, behind-the-scenes action is perhaps the best compromise.
#4 – Storytelling
Our favourite part of any brand’s content marketing strategy is the opportunity to tell an engaging story. We are so pleased to see this type of content doing so well, particularly on Instagram. Audiences are looking for more than just a caption with their visual fodder, they want an inspiring story to bring it to life.
Now that Twitter has doubled its character limit, we may see micro-blogging as we know it change. There is increased space for creative freedom. Add relevant hashtags-a-plenty to boost organic visibility and engagement. Long may social storytelling continue!
#5 – Bots & AI
Facebook Messenger bots are increasing in popularity with businesses and brands. As their integrations with websites and social media platforms continue to grow, so too will the number of users, app time-spend and content marketing opportunities.
#6 – Prioritised Quality
In 2017 we saw Google take steps to penalise websites for having overly distracting web pages. The new algorithm update saw pages with too many ads or side bars, which take attention away from a page’s key content, have their organic visibility reduced.
Social media platforms are taking a similar approach, making it harder and harder to gain organic visibility. There is a definite call for content producers to pull-their-socks-up when it comes to content quality and mobile-readiness.
In a saturated content marketing space, audiences too are becoming increasingly selective and sophisticated. Through 2017 they have been barraged with CTAs at every turn. It is important to reflect on one particular fundamental here. Audiences will only tolerate the same level of ‘sales speak’ they would take from a friend before switching off. Focus on building the relationship first.
#7 – Upper Funnel Freebies
Offering ‘upper funnel freebies’ to your audience (free articles, e-books, online tutorials, e-courses etc.) in exchange for data capture (name and email sign-up) can be powerful. Giving away knowledge can add value to your products/services, engage prospects and drive them down your conversion funnel. The use of incentives has exploded through 2017 and is likely to continue.
#8 – Email Automation
Many upper funnel freebies are being delivered as plain text emails, straight to your inbox. The best way to facilitate this? Email automation. It manages your user’s journey throughout the process, and might even help to generate some passive income for your business. It is likely that this tool will increase in popularity through 2018.
#9 – GDPR
How content reaches our audiences, specifically through email, will certainly be affected by the legal ramifications of GDPR. If you haven’t started already, find out what you should be doing to prepare at the ICO website before it comes into force in May 2018.
#10 – Virtual Reality
Visual content is still the most commonly used type of content. Adding a level of interactivity to this through VR has huge opportunities, particularly for tech, travel and retail companies. The question remains, is it just another gimmick like 3D? Time will tell.
As businesses and brands increasingly buy-in to the importance of having a professional and active digital presence, it is going to become even more important to be strategic about it in order to remain competitive. If we can help you to gain and retain that edge, get in touch.