It’s been an incredible year for content marketing. In one respect, it’s been a dangerous year in that content is changing so quickly that some brands just can’t keep up.

The year has also seen the supersonic growth of video. So much so that brands who don’t use video correctly soon find themselves losing traction. And of course, like every year since around 2001, the written word is soon to be extinct. Apparently.

We thought we would take a look back at the year and pick out some lessons that we have learnt here at Locowise. We think they will probably be familiar lessons for you too. Agencies have seen the landscape change recently, and 2017 has been the equivalent of a continental drift effect (or at least a sizeable natural disaster). Hang onto your hats…

2017 In Content Marketing: What Have We Learned?

The owned content problem

For years now, as social media has become a way of life and a massive part of a brand’s marketing arsenal, the concept of ‘owned content’ has been talked about a lot.

Remember when Vine died? That was pretty scary for most content marketers even if they didn’t put all of their content onto the platform. It was a chilling moment because marketers suddenly realised that no platform is ever truly safe, and should never be relied upon.

Sure, extinction may not happen to Facebook and Twitter, but they will change as time goes on, and we think 2017 has shown us glimpses of what may happen. Twitter, for example, is aching to get a paid model out there.

The best thing to do (but not in a panicky way, we’ve all survived Vine) is to ensure that you have a clear content hub where your best work lives. A client’s website is the perfect place to present the very best blog posts and content. Make some of the content on the site exclusive to the site (like a video series) and you’re looking at a perfect relationship between hub and social media.

Social Media Content

The more brands realise that social media is great for engagement and traffic to the hub, the better things will be. Especially if an algorithm changes.

If anything, we have seen the human side of content marketing this year. A number of disasters and tragedies have shown us that social can be a method of support. A compassionate way to communicate with others.

At the same time, we are seeing the growth of customer-centred content marketing. Your clients know that they have to show an acceptable, warm face to customers. Don’t spend time ignoring this.

Keep marketing fluff words to a minimum, your client’s customers aren’t interested. Avoid trying to dazzle them with your science. They only want to know why they should trust you and how you can help them. Build that trust and help them as much as you can. This way, you have a real core of integrity.

Fancy jargon has no place on the web now, and especially not on social media.

Get it out there

Marketers are beginning to see the real value in distribution. There was a huge fear just a couple of years ago that Google was going to penalise any brand that duplicated content on different channels. This has now passed, and the constant distribution of content is what will allow the brands you work with to stay relevant and keep gaining engagement.

Try, in 2018, to see how you could get your client’s content distributed wider. There are plenty of ways to do this, but do it you must. The more you market stuff, the better the service you give to clients.

Content should never be a ‘one shot’ affair. Work harder for your clients and get a schedule of distribution so the client’s content is seen in as many places as possible.

Strategy in content

If a top notch marketing consultant came to a client’s office and told them to put together a year-long content marketing strategy, they would do it. The idea actually makes sense before you even drill down into it.

Having a clearly documented content strategy means that you have a calm steer throughout the twelve months to come. Document all of it, every detail, and show in your strategy how that content feeds into your brand’s aims. A high quality content strategy and calendar allows you to quickly align with the goals of your clients as well as a settled approach to the year.

Remember that old adage of ‘failing to plan means planning to fail’? Don’t let your clients see the sharp end of that.

Expect everything

American Airlines did not have a great year. But the whole incident was compounded by the presence of someone with a phone. They took some video and the rest is bad publicity history.

You can’t avoid this as a brand. Sure, you may not be 40,000 feet in the air, but your brand comes into contact with the public every day, whether this is face-to-face or online. Expect the worst and plan for it. By thinking for more than three seconds on that American Airlines flight, the staff could simply have worked out another way to keep customers happy.

This also applies to horrible comments on social. Take the time to run through what you think should be done before you do anything, and you’ll find a more acceptable resolution will appear.

And whatever you do, just know that there are phones everywhere.

Customer Support

Video

This is going to be one of the only ways you can build real engagement, and 2017 showed us that because the majority of the best content was video-based. If there was ever a time to develop video skills so that you have a branded visual experience, it is now. The American Marketing Association predicts that, by 2019, video content will be 85% of the driving factors for customer purchases.

Video is not easy either and time is an investment. However, the more you practise the better. And make sure you commit to high quality video. Anything else is a waste of time.

So we know video is continuing to grow. Also, distribution is key, as well as real, human communication. The more the better.