From virtual reality, mobile-only, and the march of artificial intelligence (AI), get ready for the new revolution in tech-inspired (and defined!) content marketing.
The advance of content marketing continues apace. While even late adopters are now well and truly in the content marketing strategy mindset, leaders are forging ahead with new approaches, platforms, strategies and tactics.
Content marketing has proven its success
According to CMI / Marketing Profs 2017, 89% of B2B marketers are now implementing a content marketing strategy. Over 60% of them reported that their content marketing strategies were more effective than the year before.
Not only that: top brass is getting the message too. 42% reported management changes having a positive impact on their content marketing approach. But still, 41% of marketers lack the buy-in to be brave and differentiate their content marketing.
What'S next for your content marketing strategy?
As the field becomes ever more crowded, the challenge for content marketers will be to stand out from the crowd and stay ahead of the curve.
Technological shifts are driving new innovations and trends that will shake up content marketing in 2018 and beyond...
1. Multimedia content demands multimedia content creators
The days of relying solely on blog posts and eGuides are far behind us now. Online video has gone mainstream, and whether operating in the B2C or B2B space, brands cannot afford to ignore it.
And let’s not forget the well-documented rise of the podcast. This audience is overwhelmingly young (44% are 18-34), and tends to be more well off than average, representing a fertile opportunity that brands are increasingly tapping into.
So in 2018 and beyond, these are some of the key skills content teams will need to have:
- Video production and editing
- Graphic design and illustration
- Audio editing and production
- Truly “digital content creators”
2. It’s not just about the screen anymore
Remember the internet of things? It’s finally arrived. From Alexa to Siri, the virtual assistant is invading homes and turning devices themselves into content channels. This isn’t just hands-free; this is eyes-free, opening the door for delivering content in a whole new way.
A number of brands are using Amazon’s Alexa Skill platform to share expert demonstrations. One example is the American Heart Association, which can talk you through the process of performing CPR via Alexa.
Another brand using Alexa to deliver audio content is pet care company Purina. They’ve built an audio content hub that allows users to learn more about different dog breeds and health issues through the voice command ‘Alexa, Ask Purina…’
3. Paid, owned and earned media are converging
Content was traditionally placed firmly in the box of ‘owned’ media, with advertising classified as ‘paid’ and PR/influencer marketing as ‘earned’.
But the old divisions are breaking down, not least because of the collaborative and interactive nature of the internet, the reduced brand control and the desirability of co-creation with users and online influencers.
Those in the know are now talking about converged media — an approach that combines the best of each traditional category.
All three of paid, owned and earned have to work together to support your brand’s content marketing strategy and growth goals.
4. Live video is going BIG
Facebook has really led the way in the live video conversation, and the engagement stats show that this gambit is paying off. Users spend 3x longer watching live than non-live videos. And they comment 10x more (Facebook Newsroom).
And it’s not just Facebook reporting this. Livestream found that 80% of brand audiences would rather tune into a live video than read a blog post, and 87% crave behind-the-scenes content. But with only 14% of marketers using live video so far, there’s a huge opportunity to be seized.
5. Virtual reality (VR) will take a hold
VR is coming, like it or not (and you should like it). Particularly in the ecommerce sector, brands and companies are increasingly exploring the opportunities that this new form of interactive content brings, to immerse customers in the brand experience.
Revenue from virtual reality and augmented reality is predicted to skyrocket over the next few years, with studies forecasting sums from $108 billion to $160 billion by the early 2020s. (That’s up from $5 billion in 2016).
6. The sheer volume of content continues to rocket
Your content marketing strategy runs the risk of becoming background noise if you’re not producing original and compelling stuff, distributing it via the right channels and continually measuring and optimising your output.
As far back as 2014 it was calculated that every single minute:
- 72 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube.
- 277,000 tweets are published.
- 216,000 photos are shared on Instagram.
Three years on, the global internet population has grown by over 1 billion!
- There are 3.8 billion internet users.
- There are 2.8 billion active social media users.
- There are 4.9 billion unique mobile users.
And every day, all of these people are consuming (and producing) content. This growth only looks set to continue, making the race for content differentiation more urgent than ever.
7. Social media goes from sharing platform to publishing outlet
Users of social media increasingly crave native experiences, often preferring to consume content within the context of the platform they’re on, rather than clicking away to access it.
Platforms like Facebook are understandably encouraging this, with innovations like automatic in-feed video playing and Instant Articles. Features on Snapchat and Instagram similarly allow users to read articles instantly, with a single swipe.
So content marketers in 2018 need to stop trying to drive all social traffic to their website and instead focus on providing a complete in-channel experience. As John Hall of Influence & Co said:
“Why would people leave their favourite social apps when they can get all the content they want in one place?”
8. Forget mobile-first, we’re heading for mobile-only
Is there still anybody out there without a mobile-friendly website?
If there is, they’re probably not reading this anyway. Mobile-friendly quickly became outdated as a concept when we realise the tide was advancing so quickly it was mobile-first or nothing.
But now we’re heading for the final phase which will see desktop use dwindle to next to nothing. Already, 69% of digital media engagement takes place on mobile platforms. This is set to rise to 79% by 2018. And in the US, 13% of the population only ever access content on their mobiles. The revolution will be televised — but on a small screen.
9. Search engines get smarter, and self-updating
There has been a quiet but seismic shift in the way search engines (yes, mainly Google) operate. Marketers have become used to periodic high-profile updates such as Panda and Penguin which, while always having an impact, have been largely predictable and adaptable-for.
That’s all changing with the rise of automatic, machine-learning algorithm updates. RankBrain is the big one. The new Google algorithm fine tunes search results based on user behaviour, continually optimising to serve up the best results and making it much tougher to predict or game the system.
10. Artificial intelligence (AI) — the content robots are coming…?
Resistance is futile, but acceptance could bring great rewards. Artificial intelligence is already being used by companies like Facebook and Google to manage how they sort, monitor and serve content. So why shouldn’t content marketers harness its power too?
In 2018, the industry leaders will be experimenting with using AI to better understand content for keywords, terms and intent, discover relevant content and of course to automate and optimise distribution.
- Content marketing strategy is entering a new and exciting phase. With nearly all companies having embraced it, the next challenge is for leaders to differentiate from the crowd.
- The rising popularity of video and audio content means that design and production skills will be increasingly important in content teams.
- Virtual reality and augmented reality are on course to grow massively, and provide an interactive opportunity to immerse customers in the brand experience.
- Social media and mobile usage will continue to skyrocket, and content must be created and shared in formats that fit seamlessly with these channels.
- Machine learning is making search engines less predictable, while artificial intelligence holds opportunities for greater efficiency and optimisation.
Ready to get ahead of the curve? Seize your headstart now! Read Dare to be different: The state of content marketing differentiation