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Trish O'Loughlin
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2018 Content Marketing Trends: Fewer Stories, Better Content and New Formats

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More and more businesses are realising the power of content marketing, and for good reason. What was once a quiet area of the digital space is now booming loud and proud, becoming the primary source of fuel for brand creation.

When done right, content marketing has a significant impact on the way your business is perceived, helping to solidify you as a hot contender in your industry. However, it’s no secret that content marketing is evolving almost as quickly as it exploded onto the digital marketing scene, which means it’s imperative that you keep up with the latest measures in order to succeed.

Don’t fret – we’re compiling a good and hearty list of the biggest trends set to embrace the content marketing sphere next year.

 

1. Fewer stories, better content

The first – and arguably, the biggest – trend we want to touch on is the push for less-frequent, more in-depth content. While this movement certainly reared its head in 2017, it’s predicted to completely dominate next year, effectively wiping out those fluffy filler pieces that are churned out on a daily basis.

In fact, Orbit Media published research this year illustrating the decline in blogging frequency. According to Contently, “the best online writers have discovered that the winning formula is publishing fewer posts that are far more in-depth”. Think about it: readers want to walk away having gained something of value from your post. Rather than viewing your blog strategy as simply another way to spread the word about your business, you should look at it as a way to create good, solid relationships with consumers where you can actively help them.

blogging-frequency-over-time-graph

Source: Orbit Media

2. No more copycat content

We’ve arrived at a point where content topics are totally over-saturated, resulting in a wave of the same generic posts and a lack of originality. While content creators believe that latching onto a popular topic will enable them to reap in those ‘likes’, the sad reality is that shares actually tend to plummet – especially if you’re one of the last ones to jump aboard the topic bandwagon. As 2018 approaches, content marketers should place a robust focus on originality – after all, in the words of Forbes’ contributor Gary Henderson: “original content that doesn’t sell is in”.

Indeed, 2018 will be the year to dismiss that initial instinct to follow the pack and re-create content that has already proven to work. Yes, it sounds like a challenge, but there are ways to navigate it. In order to create fresh, unique and innovative content that people want to read, you need to anticipate what’s on the horizons of your industry and what direction you’re headed in. After all, the digital world moves at an incredibly rapid pace – often by the time you’ve polished up a post about the latest trend, it’s already become somewhat stale.

Original content that doesn't sell is in.

In order to achieve that illustrious status of ‘unique content creator’, I suggest keeping three things at the forefront of that frontal lobe:

  • Research far and wide to fuel your industry knowledge
  • Come up with your own breakthrough stories
  • Provide your own input (rather than recycling what’s already out there)

3. Fresh, new content formats

Content marketing is no longer restricted to just words. As mentioned in our recent post on the social media trends expected to hit 2018, we’re seeing a huge rise in video content these days, and marketers need to take note. In fact, digital marketing guru Neil Patel states that content marketers are now “taking a media publishing approach”, and that it’s important to “create a broader strategy, with a more diverse group of talent and skills, in order to meet the demands of your audience”.

So, what are all these exciting new formats at the fingertips of content marketers? Well, the below pointers should give you a good idea of where you can start investing your time and money:

  • Video production – we’re talking mostly vlog webinars (otherwise known as video blogs), but other ways to integrate video into your content marketing strategy include filmed tutorials and tips, behind-the-scenes videos and even promo pieces.
  • Graphic designinfographics will always be a super-effective way to convey a ton of information at once. These tools can be used to complement your blog posts, or as standalone social media posts.
  • Audio – podcasts are increasingly becoming part of mainstream media, and these babies can be a great way for B2B businesses to establish their position as thought leaders for their industry.
  • Interactive visual content – while still evolving, virtual reality is certainly gaining more traction as brands recognise this marketing goldmine and put it to use in their content marketing strategies (hello, virtual shopping).

New content marketing formats: video, infographics, podcasts and AR/VR

4. A drive towards transparency

Given the sheer volume of content pushed out by brands these days, consumers feel they have the liberty to be a bit selective in what they engage with – and rightly so. No one wants to spend their time poring over salesy blog posts. In the words of Neil Patel, “millennials are more progressive and want companies to be more authentic, transparent, and driven to give back to society”.

This is particularly the case for businesses that claim charitable inclinations, with BS detectors now higher than ever, according to a 2016 article from DigiDay. The problem here is that activism is the latest marketing ploy. Sex no longer sells; rather, it’s environmental and social issues that can seduce young consumers. However, if you’re a business that’s only getting involved in charitable causes in a bid to win over customers, you won’t appear authentically invested. In fact, you might even come across as desperate. It takes a bit of a balancing act, but keep in mind that your brand should always stay true to its core values, and if you’re going to get involved in a cause or event, make sure it’s not a half-hearted attempt. Go less heavy on the opportunistic marketing, and ensure you truly embrace your cause of choice.

Content marketing strategy for millennials and Gen Z

Whilst still on the topic of transparency, another area brands want to be wary of is the need for disclosure. Consumers – particularly millennials and Gen Zers – are acutely aware that social media can be crafty (hence the creation of the #nofilter hashtag). Given the surge in influencer marketing and endorsements, the need for disclosure is greater than ever, with Instagram adding ‘paid partnership’ sub-headers to sponsored posts in 2017. Moving forward, brands should be diligent about creating content that is fully transparent, lest they risk getting on the bad side of their customers and prospects.

5. Super-thorough content strategies

Let’s face it: none of the above approaches to content marketing are achievable without a solid plan in place. 2018 will be the year of refined content strategies, with marketers set to place greater focus on the development, adjustment and documentation of their content marketing tactics.

This trend can be attributed to the success rate that comes with writing one’s goals down. More businesses are realising not only the need to invest in content marketing, but the need to document this investment and highlight the direction they wish to move towards. At the end of the day, it’s about turning a concept into something tangible; something that you can refer to, rely on and reflect on.

Thus, as we quickly hurtle towards 2018, it’s a good idea to draw up a content calendar for the first six months of the year. Allow room for flexibility, but use this to underpin your blog topics and posting schedule so that your content marketing is regular and streamlined.

Content marketing strategy marketing plan social media posting schedule

Top takeaways:

  • Publish better-quality blog posts, and publish less-often. 2018 will be all about quality over quantity for content marketers.
  • Be original with your content. Don’t be a sheep; break the content marketing mould and come up with your own topics.
  • Capitalise on expanding content formats. Video marketing is going to be a biggie for content production next year!
  • Be 100% transparent. An authentic brand will always trump one that hides behind false barriers.
  • Lock in a content strategy and keep everything documented. Not only will this better motivate you to achieve your goals, it will also help you track what works and what doesn’t, giving you the insight you need to improve your content marketing strategy.

 

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By Trish O'Loughlin


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