Content marketing has already established itself as one of the most important tools for companies, and the new year opens up new avenues and opportunities to connect with your audience. I’ve put together a list of some of the most important content marketing trends you can expect to see emerging in 2018.
Brands with Personality
Customers are increasingly interested in getting to know the human face behind the brands they buy from, and it’s only getting more important as we head into 2018. Brands such as Innocent which have built up an online following for their personality rather than their product serve as great examples of the way this can work. In fact, more and more companies are using engagement and following as an important marker of their success, where before generating revenue was the primary – or even only – focus.
Social media is an obvious place to start when it comes to interacting and engaging with your audience, and offers more scope for keeping up with current trends than many traditional marketing methods. It’s also a great place to use humour and more informal language, which is becoming an increasingly popular method among marketers and has been shown to help improve response from audiences.
It also gives you the opportunity to respond instantly and publically to your customers. This two-way conversation helps establish trust and keeps your customers invested in your brand, and it also means that customers can build a community among themselves. As well as interacting with customers, you can also take this opportunity to engage with other brands. Brand-to-brand banter has become increasingly popular over recent years and can prove to be a great way for both companies to boost their image – if done well, of course.
The type of content you create and share, both on social media and beyond, is another contributing factor in creating a relatable and engaging image for your brand. Behind-the-scenes photos are a great way to show the human side of your brand.
Over recent years, video has become the undeniable king of content, and it shows no sign of slowing down. In 2018, the trend will keep evolving and live video is expected to become more important than ever. Videos typically demand less from the consumer than lengthy text posts, which can make it easier for people to engage with it – although keeping things as short and sweet as possible is still an important rule.
Instagram and Snapchat continue to battle it out with constant updates to their stories and ways of sharing your content in real-time. Facebook Live is another invaluable tool which it’s important to make use of if you want to keep your audience engaged. In fact, Social Bakers found that videos on Facebook generate 135% more organic reach than pictures and users spend, on average, three times longer watching live videos than non-live videos. They’re also more engaged, with live videos receiving approximately 10-times as many comments.
You can also utilise traditional video methods such as YouTube as a way to get your ideas and brand image across. With the increase in the use of social media influencers in marketing, collaborating with vloggers is a great way to ensure consistent and high-quality content. Make sure that you find vloggers with an engaged following that fits with your target audience, and work with them to ensure that any content produced properly represents your brand values. Having an active YouTube channel also gives you a place to store any live videos or content produced for other channels rather than limiting them to one-time use.
Growing interest in entrepreneurship and small businesses means that you can use your business itself as part of your marketing strategy both within your network and with your customers. As well as the brand-to-brand interaction mentioned above, you can use your contacts for both collaboration and inspiration. Consider finding brands with a similar target audience, but a different product, and make complementary content that you can both use to increase awareness and engagement.
Similarly, make sure you use business-focused platforms as well as consumer-facing ones. LinkedIn is becoming increasingly important in marketing for a range of different industries. You can use it as a way to catch the attention of potential partners, as well as a way to establish an authority in your sector. Writing articles that can be featured on LinkedIn Pulse helps you to reach a new audience and is a chance to show your expertise in your area and build up the trust between you and your clients. It’s a particularly important platform following the change in policy of Huffington Post, which used to be open to all but which no longer allows for unverified contributors.
Transparency from the brands they shop with is becoming increasingly important to customers, and presenting yourself as a business can help with this. You can set forward your company goals and values rather than just your products or services.
Connecting with other businesses is just one way to enhance the community spirit that surrounds your brand. Having a loyal following that both you and your other customers can rely on is becoming an increasingly important part of building your business. In 2018, work on not just marketing to your customers but getting them involved with your marketing. This can range from asking more questions on your social media page to asking them to create videos or images that you can share as part of an event or campaign.
Personalising your communications with your customers is another way to make them feel like a part of your business. If you use an email marketing service, it’s quick and easy to customise each email with the name of the person you’re trying to reach, making them feel like they’ve received a more personal message than a mass mail-out. Sending birthday emails – or perhaps even offers and discounts – is another great way to keep in touch in a more personal way.
You can also grow your community by enlisting social media influencers and other well-known faces to help promote and share your brand. Nielsen’s research into the use of influencers showed that approximately 92% of respondents said they would trust a recommendation from an individual more than one from a company. This answer remained the same even when respondents didn’t know the individual in question, which further demonstrates the importance of external ambassadors. In a similar vein, it’s worth asking your customers to leave impartial reviews either on your platform or on a third-party one so that future customers can see them.
While recent years have seen increasing conversations around globalisation and appealing to an international market, 2018 is expected to see more focus on localisation and tailored content for different countries and even regions and cities. Whether it’s nostalgia for the times of local businesses and corner shops, or diversifying interests from a new demographic, there’s a renewed interest in smaller, more intimate business strategies.
This also helps you to keep track of your audience and build a more loyal, long-term customer base. Clicks can become conversions which can then become repeat customers, meaning that the cost-to-return ratio of acquiring each customer is tipped further in your favour. It also opens up the door for remarketing in a way that helps your business stay in the forefront of their mind as they browse their options, and also improves your opportunities for lifecycle marketing.
Localisation also means that you can use language that’s more familiar to the audience you’ll be marketing to. Instead of worrying about making content that’s easy to translate and that works in a variety of settings and contexts, you can incorporate slang, idioms and other colloquialisms that will help you build a sense of familiarity with your audience. A great example of this is the way that Scottish Twitter has emerged, with users typing using regional vernacular. This strategy can also boost your organic SEO by utilising words that your audience are more likely to think or say, and therefore search, naturally.
Focusing on your core audience in this way also opens up the opportunity to establish a niche without worrying about maintaining a broad appeal above all else. While it’s still important to be accessible to a variety of customers, having a particular area of expertise can help to establish your authority in that area and makes it easier for customers to categorise your company in a way that will make them think of you when they have a specific need.
What are your top tips for content marketing? What will you be changing in 2018 and which techniques do you think will stand the test of time? Let me know your thoughts and ideas in the comments below.
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