Not Another Marketing Predictions Post…

It’s the most wonderful time of the year: a time of frosty mornings, mince pies and mulled wine… and every man and his nana putting together a groundbreaking blog post of a dozen predictions about content marketing in 2018. Some will even stretch as far as 60+ marketing predictions. That’s a whole lot of crystal gazing to cram into the next twelve months!

The truth is, content marketing isn’t going to change that much in 2018. The introduction of new social media tools, algorithms and trends will be as constant and gradual as ever. Of course, there are some things worth bearing in mind if you want to step up your content marketing strategy in 2018. Here’s what I think you should be doing and why…

Focus your content on consumers

It goes without saying that the content you create needs to be focused on the consumer. While SEO will continue to play a leading role in online marketing, there’s a steady shift away from the technicalities and towards genuinely interesting, relevant and shareable content experiences. With that being said, it’ll be worth developing content that’s personalised for each customer, or at least each target segment. Think about the different ways that they interact with your brand, from the first time they hear your name, to their initial website visit, to their journey through social media mentions and third party review sites, to that vital moment when they convert.

You also need to remember your return customers, and continue to impress them by delivering relevant, valuable content. This could be anything from a long-form blog post that answers key questions, to a helpful how-to video, to a social media competition with a lucrative prize, to a fun campaign that features their favourite influencers. No matter the budget, every brand has the capacity to create consumer-focused content – it just takes a little research and creativity.

Remember that social media is a search engine 

We all use social media on a daily basis, and over the last decade, these platforms have become more than just a space for chit-chat, likes and shares. Social media is now integrating with search and becoming a search engine in its own right. We are already seeing content from top Twitter accounts being indexed and ranked by Google, and it’s only a matter of time until a broader pool of social content hits the SERPs. People have also realised the search potential of social channels themselves, and are opting to track down popular news stories and topics via Twitter rather than Google.

Instagram is another effective search engine, particularly for people that are planning on taking a trip or eating in a restaurant. A simple search of hashtags or locations will bring up a gallery of user-generated images, and these will be the difference between the customer booking a table or looking elsewhere. You can take advantage of this behaviour by making sure you’re present on all relevant social platforms, regularly posting high quality content that captures attention.

Connect with relevant influencers

Long-term relationships with influencers can reap great rewards for brands. Not only will these partnerships allow you to make an impression on a much wider audience, but they will lead to the production of great content in various formats, including Instagram photos, YouTube videos and blog posts. This content can then be repurposed by your brand well into the future. Influencer marketing continues to grow in popularity and it’s not uncommon to see the biggest influencers now working on huge brand collaborations with even huger budgets.

Of course, it’s not necessary to invest huge amounts in your influencer marketing strategy. For most brands, it’s sensible to pinpoint the micro-influencers that have a following relevant to your products or services. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ll have 11 million YouTube subscribers, but their smaller, niche audience will have a keen interest in the feature and will be likely to follow you, find out more or shop straight away.

Experiment with social tools

Over the last few months a number of social tools have surged in popularity. Polls, for instance, are a simple way for brands to offer interactive content, as well as conducting fun customer research. It’s super quick and easy to set up a poll on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. If you want to experiment with this tool, remember to keep things as simple as possible (people will be more likely to take part if they don’t have to think too hard). Polls are meant to be a bit of fun, so you needn’t focus on the data – although some of your findings could be considered useful!

Stories are another popular social tool. If you haven’t tried them out already, get in on the action! Over 200 million people currently use Instagram Stories, and this number continues to rise. Stories are a great place to get creative and share content that doesn’t fit well on your main feed. You can also give users the option to ‘Swipe Up’ or click through to a dedicated page on your website, so you can mix up the fun and games with serious business.

Balance evergreen with ephemeral content

Keeping Stories in mind, it’s time to punctuate your evergreen content (the stuff that’s always going to be relevant and valuable) with ephemeral content (the stuff that only lasts for a fleeting moment). While these images, videos and messages might only live on your social channels for a few seconds, there’s longterm value in short-lived content. Ephemeral content allows businesses to have a little more fun with their marketing, offering users a fun and authentic glimpse inside the brand. Forget about perfectly polished campaigns – ephemeral content is all about being honest, creative and a little bit silly.

At the same time, continue to build up a solid portfolio of evergreen content that will continue to drive value to your users. Blog posts, white papers, how-to guides and infographics are just some of the formats to bear in mind, each of which is suited to various long-standing messages. Content comes in so many different shapes and sizes, and every business should be trying and testing to figure out which works best.

Nothing earth shattering is going to happen in the content marketing world next year. In fact, it’s set to be pretty much the same as 2017 – with a few fads chucked in, no doubt. But it’s always worth keeping up to date with new tools and changing user behaviour, ensuring that your content strategy is as effective as possible and gives you the best return. Want to know more? Get in touch today to find out more about my content services.

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