One of the most exciting aspects of inbound marketing is that there are constantly new tools and trends to take advantage of to most effectively reach your audience. This is also one of the greatest challenges of being an effective inbound marketer.
Staying ahead of trends and mastering new techniques and technologies is a never-ending challenge for all of us, but as a gift to you, here are 6 trends to keep an eye on and begin to work into your content building in 2018.
1. Ephemeral Content
We all work so hard on our evergreen content that can be shared and repurposed for years to come. Well, exciting news! That evergreen content will remain important - especially if you are rolling out a pillar content strategy - but now you also get to think about creating content that will disappear almost immediately. Social media is driving this temporary content trend.
Snapchat was the first, but as the popularity of this simple app has grown, Instagram and then Facebook have added stories features as well. The time-sensitive component of this content makes it exciting - the FOMO element of potentially missing something great keeps engagement high. Younger audiences are a little more savvy to the ways that brands attempt to market to them, but using this kind of temporary content to highlight the human side of your brand is a great way to connect through social media and show off why your company culture is special.
2. Video and Other Forms of Rich Content
Video was already gaining in popularity throughout 2017, but heading into 2018 we now have even more stats to back up the effectiveness of this type of content.
- 500 million hours of video content watched on YouTube per day
- Facebook videos get 135% more organic views than photos
- Video will represent up to 82% of all IP traffic by 2021
Creating compelling video content may be more of an investment, but the ROI is clear. Plus, these videos don't have to be very long. In fact, video under 2 minutes tends to get the best engagement. Start investing some time, energy, training, and money into great video content in 2018.
Beyond video, working with other forms of rich content will be an important skill to master in 2018. Consider how you can incorporate Twitter polls, quizzes, tutorials, calculators... the list goes on. Rich content "encourages user interaction while simultaneously collecting consumer insights—it’s a win-win."
3. Live Streams
At the intersection of ephemeral and video content is the live stream. This type of content became wildly popular in 2017, with brands and influencers utilizing it across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. Highly interactive and appropriate to use in both B2B and B2C contexts, there are nearly endless ways to leverage these tools, but here are some examples:
- behind the scenes of an event
- question and answer or AMA sessions
- employee or customer takeovers
- sneak peeks of upcoming products or projects
Use your imagination and ingenuity! And as an added bonus, this content lasts, so if you have a particularly successful live stream you can then repurpose it into future content offerings.
4. Rise of Virtual and Augmented Reality
This technology is still new and somewhat untested, but as more video games, apps, movies, and other types of media start to explore virtual and augmented reality, your audience will become more and more receptive to this type of content. Already, companies are using AR to allow potential customers to try their products or services through their phones.
One great example is Estée Lauder, who is using AR to show users what different lipstick shades will look like with a digital trial. Once they find one that they like, they are directed to the brand's website to buy. VR and AR technology is projected to make $150 billion in revenue by 2020 - staying apace with this trend will keep your content dynamic and modern. Look for opportunities to experiment as virtual and augmented reality technology becomes more readily available.
5. The End of Organic Reach
Much like with the rise of ephemeral content does not mean the end of creating excellent evergreen content, the decline in effectiveness of organic reach does not mean that you can just throw money at social media and expect to see huge results. Regularly posting to social media with timely and compelling content, as well as being able to respond to and interact with your followers will remain a powerful way to stay connected to your audience.
That being said, because of changes to the Facebook and Instagram algorithms, you're going to need to start budgeting for some paid ads to maximize reach. Develop ads through Facebook ad manager, and allocate some budget for boosting any posts that do perform well organically. Get creative and strategic in your social media content and you'll still be able to leverage all the best parts of those platforms.
6. Artificial Intelligence
Let's enjoy the pre-Terminator world we currently live in and learn to leverage new types of AI to help us in our content creation, promotion, and engagement! Current AI is incredibly valuable, with "features such as chatbots, data analysis algorithms, and personalized recommendation systems [to] automatically direct audiences to content that’s relevant to their interests and circumstances." There are also some great AI options to aid in your own content creation and promotion that makes it easier to create targeted and strategic content for every platform.
The one I like to use is Atomic Reach which gives me recommendations on type and level of language to use, when to post to social media for best engagement, how long my blog posts should be, and more. Embrace this useful technology, but never forget to "use AI tools wisely—make sure to keep the human element in the equation. No matter how advanced the technology gets, creativity, empathy, tone, and interpretation are still a human prerogative."
Engagement is Everything
As you can probably tell from the above trends, the overarching theme of what to expect in 2018 is increased engagement with your audience. Creating a relationship with the people you want to use your service or buy your product starts a conversation and builds a sense of trust. The president of Ogilvy & Mather New York has this to say about this trend in marketing:
"We're advising our clients on the imporance of 'proving' over 'selling' brand values. Across the industry, we're seeing brands evolve their marketing communications to be more engaging, more participatory and, ulimately, more personalized." - Adam Tucker, President of Ogilvy & Mather New York
When you add a human element to your content and promotion strategy (even if you're also using robots to help do both of those things as outlined above) you build engagement and trust. With that trust you can turn customers into evangelists, who may then go on to make their own content about how much they love your company, which you can then repurpose into new content to be shared by your evangelists, who are now excited to be featured, and on and on and on... It's a powerful feedback loop.
Make 2018 the year of embracing new technology, compelling (and sometimes ephemeral) video content, and engaging with your audience on a new level. Happy marketing!