At the beginning of the year the experts made their annual marketing predictions. Now that we’re more than half way through 2016 we can see some predictions, like the prevalence of content produced by Artificial Intelligence (AI), have fallen to the wayside while other predictions, like the merge between social and content marketing have risen to the top.
Amongst these predictions and advice are some important content suggestions that will improve the return on your content investment and help you achieve your goals. Here are what we believe are the top five content marketing trends that you should incorporate into your content marketing strategy:
1. Content is longer
What’s happening – Long-form content has taken over as marketers try to capitalize on Google’s Knowledge Graph, instant answers and digital assistants like Siri and Cortana – programs which are all based on providing users with an answer to a question.
Why – The way that these programs work and how they have impacted search results is complex. However, the point is that fewer websites are finding success publishing content that provides short, quick answers, “forcing content marketers to seek refuge in more complicated and more difficult topics,” Forbes explains. Longer articles are inevitably required to break down complicated and difficult topics into something that is easier to understand.
What you should do – Just adding to your word count isn’t enough to capitalize on this trend. Instead, your content should be addressing topics that are complicated, industry-specific and difficult for non-industry readers to understand. Articles that make these topics more easily accessible will inevitably rank higher in organic searches.
2. Content is visual
What’s happening – Visuals are engaging and quite simply, perform better online than heavy text-based content. According to HubSpot, “content with relevant images get 94% more views than content without.” Pictures are also more shareable, especially on social media. Studies show that “visual content is more than 40X more likely to get shared on social media than other types of content,” and “articles with an image once every 75-100 words got double the number of social shares than articles with fewer images.”
Why – A picture says a thousand words. Visuals and videos help marketers deconstruct complex topics. According to HubSpot, “46% of marketers say photography is critical to their current marketing and storytelling strategies.” As our capacity for stable wireless, faster Internet and data usage increases, more of us are accessing images and videos on the go when there isn’t time to read a lengthy article.
What you should do – Your content marketing budget should include room for quality images and videos and every piece of content you produce should include an engaging, visual element.
3. Content is interactive
What is happening – Virtual reality, user surveys, custom newsfeeds and search results that are tailored to our browsing habits – we’re used to getting individualized results that we can interact with.
Why – Personalizing content is not a new marketing concept. Tech-savvy marketers have been doing this for several years now. Customized email campaigns and targeted direct mail are examples. To up the ante marketers are providing experiences for potential and existing customers, realizing that it is the customer experience that drives brand loyalty and trust.
What you should do – Continue to personalize content for your customers, but look for ways to go beyond personalization. Think beyond the box when choosing your content strategies. Ideas include virtual reality tours, hosting Facebook Live learning sessions, live tweeting at customer-centric events and encouraging users to create content through community forums hosted by your brand. There are lots of ways to make your content interactive.
4. Content is competitive
What is happening – With more and more businesses participating in content marketing the competition to capture the attention of your target market is fiercer than ever.
Why – Google and other search engines have placed less emphasis on search engine optimization and a greater emphasis on content. Not only has this change provided search engines with the substance they need to provide more relevant search results for users, it has also given consumers faster, almost instantaneous access to the information they seek. Businesses have taken notice and have re-jigged their marketing focus accordingly.
What you should do – Make quality content the focus, not search results and ranking. When looking at your analytics you should zero in on how well you are engaging with your audience rather than focusing on audience size or your rank. In the end, quality content will differentiate the leaders. According to HubSpot, “more than ever before, quality of content will matter over quantity, and only the best will survive.”
5. Content is social
What is happening – Social media and content marketing have essentially merged with the creation of content publication tools on social media platforms. For example, Facebook Live allows users to live stream events in their Facebook feed and Instant Articles by Facebook “helps publishers get more visibility to content as compared to their native publishing platforms,” SmartInsights explains.
Why – Big brands used to be skeptical about publishing content on social media because it was once considered a fringe publishing platform. However, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social platforms have innovated in ways that have pushed them into the mainstream. The result is that businesses are now publishing directly on these channels. In fact, according to SmartInsights, Instagram and Snapchat have been at the center of many content marketing strategies for big brands this year.
What you should do – Publish directly on your social channels and consider paying for ads to promote this content. “Organic reach continues to dwindle as Social Networks aggressively push for advertising on their platforms. If you haven’t, it’s time to catch up on the paid social approach as it is only going to go bigger,” SmartInsights predicts.