Content marketing was rated as the most important technique for driving incremental sales in 2017, according to Smart Insights. In an industry that’s all about experimentation, some key trends stood out this year and paved the way for next year’s content marketing best practices. Here are 6 trends to watch out for in 2018.
Recently, it became public knowledge that tech giant Apple is planning to invest over $1 billion on original content. Though some gossip states Apple is making this move to take on Netflix, we believe there’s more on Apple’s mind than video streaming. As competition in the mobile space continues to heat up, the brand needs to stay relevant. And valuable, original programming can help the company grow its audience and keep its current customers satisfied (just like all brands should!).
Google is also purchasing original content from media companies and brands to fill content gaps it has discovered using its search algorithm, and Facebook is investing large amounts of capital on original video. Not to be outdone, online shopping giant Amazon will be perhaps the largest investor of all. While we’re not exactly sure what all of this means yet, we do know that some of the largest brands in the world see original, consistent content as important.
If your competitors haven’t started investing in bespoke content yet, they will soon. The time for building your thought leadership and inspire your audience is now. As an added bonus, investing in original content creation will give your brand multiple options to monetize that content, either through prospects and current customers or through content syndication with major brand influencers.
Consumers are becoming increasingly desensitized. Millennials, in particular, want (and even expect) companies to be transparent, authentic and dedicated to giving back. However, according to Digiday, there’s a growing exhaustion in brand advertising, environmental claims, charitable contributions and corporate support for causes. Some brands have tied this together in an appealing way, but many others are causing consumers to see this type of promotion as desperate or dishonest.
Nielsen’s 2015 Global Trust in Advertising Survey makes it clear where consumers are putting their trust. (See the graphic below). We expect these trust trends to continue in 2018 - with recommendations being the most trustworthy and online ads and social ads less so.
It’s clear from this survey and other similar research that consumers don’t believe they get the same authenticity from brands that they get from their peers.Moving forward, brands need to focus on transparency and disclosure to close this gap as much as possible. This is why we’ve seen the growth of influencer marketing in the past few years.
But keep in mind that even working with influencers can be tricky. The Federal Trade Commission continues to take measures to protect consumers from companies who aren’t transparent enough--with influencers and otherwise. Take what happened with Machinima, for example:
In 2015, the FTC gave Machinima, a YouTube gaming network, a warningfor not disclosing paid endorsements to YouTube influencers who produced content for the channel.
And this is not the only such instance. A quick Google search shows that a lack of disclosure and transparency have caused trouble for many brands.
To build (and maintain) the trust of your audience, the next phase of influencer marketing and brandedcontent is to ensure that every piece of content you create, whether on social media, your website or otherwise, should be completely transparent.