The year of interconnected content

We’ve seen content marketing move from a quasi-science a few years ago to take centre stage as a crucial element of your marketing efforts. Brands have become publishers, creating all sorts of visual and written content, and we’ve witnessed the rise of native marketing, all making for more qualified brand experiences. A dream for a content marketer like me!

But we’re looking forwards to the year ahead, and it’s set to be a scorcher for content marketing.

Hyper-personalised content

We know that consumer brands have stopped with the one-size-fits-all approach to the content they create, which makes sense. You can’t appeal to customers with the exact same message and expect them to buy it these days.

We also know that our audiences need to be defined and segmented appropriately, so our content needs to be this defined too. But 2018 is set to become the year of hyper-personalised content, and it’s our job to create it.

YouTube is one of the media publishers that has stepped up to the mark in this regard, having launched its Director Mix late last year. This service allows brands to deliver thousands of content pieces in the one campaign, and helps marketers deliver the right brand message to the appropriate audience by using YouTube’s demographic data, likes and behaviour of the user, and geodata. This allows people like us to focus on getting the message right.

Influencers everywhere!

Brand ambassadors are no new thing to marketing campaigns, nor is the idea to use social media influencers to help promote a brand’s products and services. What is changing, however, is who these people are. Consumers can often see right through this supposed authenticity, so we will need to change our tact.

Brands are now seeking out micro-influencers, or people with 10,000-100,000 followers. This group of people have a smaller number of followers, but have built these up over time on the platform, allowing for a more genuine sense of authenticity.

These influencers often don’t receive payment, but instead work with the brand to divulge inside information, be the first in line to try out new products and receive freebies. The role of influencers in content marketing campaigns hasn’t changed, but who they are certainly will do.

Content marketing on IoT devices

This is a particularly interesting upward trend, and one what we hope to see more of over the next few years! Content is now interwoven into our daily lives and devices, making full use of voicetechnology tools like Alexa and Siri.

Amazon’s Alexa Skills voice service is the brains behind the operation, as it were. Brands are adding skills to enable customers to receive a personalised experience from their Alexa device, from ordering dinner through Just Eat to booking flights with EasyJet and finding recipes from Jamie Oliver and the Daily Mail.

Brands have to be prepared to move to where their audiences are, and where they might need them. This trend is only set to continue as more smart devices hit the shelves.

Live Video

Video has boomed, there’s no denying it. But what has really helped to sell brand experience is live video, whether as part of special campaign coverage or promoted Q&As with product teams and CEOs. Nothing humanises a brand more than the people behind it, so getting them in front of the camera to share their expertise is very useful for both consumer and B2B content marketing. Be warned though, not every topic or event needs to be streamed, so apply with care.

People like visual formats, and live videos are a lot more feasible to conduct within our budgets. After all, we’re looking for bang for our buck, and live video is a powerful way to do so in 2018.

Chatbots

The benefits of chatbots with regards to customer service have been well documented, but you may be missing a trick if you’re not using your chatbot to do more for you. Depending on the service you use, chatbots can also give high-value answers to questions that drove people to your site in the first place, and the best bit is that all of these answers are already located on your website!

An intelligent chatbot can also give you excellent data to use when exploring your customers’ journeys and pain points, so perhaps now is the time to explore the idea, or upgrade your current service if you’re already using them.

 

2018 is set to be the year of connectivity. The ability to curate a solid brand experience across multiple platforms will certainly deliver some innovative results!

One key trend in all of this is the shift from simply talking about your brand to something much more engaging – focusing on what your brand can create to get people reading, watching, listening and sharing.

If you think your content could tell a better story and work harder for you, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Sean Ross Howlett

By Sean Ross Howlett

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