The field of digital content marketing is maturing, and companies need to make sure that their content campaigns and strategies are keeping up.
Above all else, it’s important to remember that good content is good content. It doesn’t matter what kind of technology you implement: If your branded content doesn’t resonate with your targeted audience, you have failed.
Just as traditional publishing advanced decades ago, digital marketing is following the same trajectory today. The only difference is the rate at which things are changing, and the fact that many digital brands forget to be human.
It doesn’t matter if you’re writing on stone or using augmented reality to get your message across: It must be interesting and relevant to motivate a reaction from the end-user.
Creating and distributing compelling content through social media is especially important from a branding perspective. The trick to the future of social media content marketing is using modern approaches at being human.
Here are five social media content marketing trends to watch heading into 2018:
- Increased investment in talent: By this point, most companies have acknowledged how crucial social media is from a brand-awareness and consumer-engagement standpoint, so they’ve invested in their social strategies. I believe we’ll see continued investment in a strong social strategy, but with added emphasis on finding and hiring individuals who can generate a consistent stream of content—for every social platform. Cross-promoting the same content on every platform is no longer enough. Now, the savviest companies will hire folks who not only know how to grow a brand’s audience on each social platform, but also how to create content to keep that audience engaged through every channel. These people need to be tech-savvy and highly organized, and they must know how to communicate beyond acronyms. Yesterday’s editor-in-chief in publishing is today’s content strategist in the digital ecosystem. You still need people to lead your storytelling. Automated sourcing is never the way to go if you can avoid it.
- More mobile-ready content: According to comScore’s 2017 U.S. Cross-Platform Future in Focus report, mobile now represents almost seven in 10 digital media minutes, with smartphone applications alone accounting for one-half of all time spent engaging with digital media. Per comScore’s 2017 U.S. Mobile App Report, Facebook is the top mobile app of the year (as measured by its penetration of the U.S. mobile app audience), and Instagram and Snapchat are in the top 10, as well. Clearly, consumers are spending quite a bit of time using social media on their mobile devices. As such, we’ll see brands focus on creating content specifically for the small screen. Mobile-ready content should be simple, with few keypresses required to engage with it.
- Richer forms of content—especially video: Everyone who works in digital marketing should know by now that rich content drives the most engagement. What exactly does “rich content” mean? It depends who you ask, but most would agree that it refers to any type of content that can facilitate user interaction. For example, videos are considered a rich form of content because they typically require the viewer to click play (unless you’re using auto-play ads, which I do not recommend unless your goal is to annoy your target audience). A great example of employing rich content in a social media campaign is to run a Twitter poll, which allows you to ask Twitter users to weigh in on a certain subject. You’re distributing content that encourages user interaction while simultaneously collecting consumer insights—it’s a win-win.
- Leveraging user-generated content: According to Nielsen’s Global Trust in Advertising report, 83 percent of consumers trust recommendations from people they know, and 66 percent trust other consumer opinions posted online. Those are substantially higher numbers than the 46 percent of consumers who trust ads on social networks. Because we know consumers trust one another’s opinions—and I mean average Joes, not social influencers and celebrities—I expect that we’ll see brands leveraging user-generated content more heavily in their social strategies. Simply reposting a happy customer’s Instagram photo is no longer enough. Brands will spend time finessing user-generated content and weaving it into social campaigns in an organic yet professional way.
- Doubling down on ephemeral content: Historically, marketers have focused on producing evergreen content that can be recirculated to drive engagement for months on end. That’s changing, especially in the world of social media. Snapchat really pioneered the idea of ephemeral content, and it has proven that consumers covet this kind of content because they know it won’t be around forever. It has an inherently exclusive component to it. Given how much engagement Snapchat Stories drive, it’s no wonder that Instagram and Facebook quickly followed suit and launched stories features of their own. As such, brands will continue to ramp up stories efforts on all three platforms in order to generate a consistent stream of ephemeral content that keeps consumers coming back for more.
Social media presents very exciting opportunities for using cutting-edge content to build meaningful relationships with consumers, and I look forward to seeing how things continue to evolve as we head into 2018.
Megan James is a content strategist at native advertising marketplace MGID.