We’ve discussed the value of content marketing before, but what trends are hot this year? Today’s blog post shares what the most recent research says is popular and how to implement these trends in your brand’s strategy for 2019.

1. Use Content Marketing to Establish Authenticity

The word Authenticity on a blackboard with images of people connecting drawn in chalk around it.How does your content marketing strategy strive for authenticity?

In light of fake news and corporate scandals, consumers want brands they can trust – and they’ll reward them for transparent authenticity.

Science Daily backs this up too, sharing new research that shows consumers are willing to pay more to support businesses with a good reputation.

How can you make sure your content marketing strategy is showcasing your brand’s authenticity? Be transparent! Core DNA shares two fantastic examples:

  • Southwest Airlines created a standalone site called Transfarency, which provides “tips on how to outsmart other airline’s bogus fees.”
  • TOMS Shoes, famous for its “One-for-One” initiative (which provides a pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair purchased by customers), provides full transparency as to how the company’s initiative has panned out.

How can you apply this to your own brand? Spend some time reflecting on what defines your brand. What do customers tell their friends about it? How would employees describe it?

Once you have a clear picture of your business, consider ways to share this image publicly. Show them the real people behind your brand through images and videos of your team. Share feedback from real customers by posting user generated content as well as testimonials.

Also, as the examples above show, consumers like information, so give it to them. What expertise or insider tips and tricks can you provide to genuinely make their lives better?

2. Develop a Personal Connection Through Content Marketing

Group Girls Electronic Devices Media ConceptMake sure your content marketing strategy connects with your target audience.

Effective content marketing is about more than inundating consumers with articles and videos; it’s about fostering a connection with them. As part of your strategy, build in opportunities to build relationships with consumers. As Spin Sucks puts it, “They want to know the people and faces behind the corporate logo.”

Here are a few specific ways you can emphasize a personal connection as part of your content marketing efforts.

  • Reply promptly. If someone gets in touch with you via social media, email, blog comment, text message or any other way, respond as quickly as possible. Make sure your reply shows you listened and understood, and if you need more clarification, ask for it!
  • Showcase your staff. In addition to featuring your products or services, make room in your content marketing strategy for team members to step out in front and shine. Revealing the human behind the brand can be a powerful way to connect person to person. Here are a few ways we do this at Three Girls:
    • Our CEO Erika shares video tips and two-minute micro-podcasts weekly
    • We create images that share employee tips so social media followers know who the advice is coming from
    • Our email newsletter includes a section called “Three Girls Gossip,” where we share a bit of fun details about ourselves
    • Each person on our team takes turns writing blog posts, giving them the opportunity to infuse our company content with their personalities and interests
  • Host Twitter chats. If your target audience is on Twitter, form a connection with them through monthly chats! Hootsuite does a nice job of explaining what this means: “A Twitter chat is a public discussion on Twitter around a specific hashtag. [They] are a great way to build community by generating lively discussions around your customers’ interests. The chats are held at a specific time, cover one topic or theme, and are led by a moderator.” Hosting a live conversation via tweets can be a fantastic way to connect with users in real time.
  • Run Facebook Live Q&As. Similarly to Twitter chats, these “in the moment” videos are a fantastic way to connect with consumers in real-time. Users can ask their questions and get an answer from a person right in front of them, plus they’re incredibly cost-effective (free!) to run.
  • Embrace social Stories. Although Snapchat started these vertical micro-videos, they’re incredibly popular on Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp too. In fact, Block Party reports that since platforms began debuting Stories in early 2016, there’s been a 987 percent increase in usage and a growth rate 15 times higher than major social platforms’ feeds. Want some ideas for your brand’s Stories? Here are three creative ways to boost engagement.

3. Continue Investing in Long-Form Content Marketing Messages

Woman writing a blog. Female hands on the keyboard.Long-form blog content remains an important part of your content marketing strategy.

Despite the shift to media like video and podcasts, long-form written content continues to be important for your business’ online visibility. As Core DNA explains, “Google’s more recent algorithms tend to recognize longer-form content as being more valuable – making such content more likely to rank higher in search results.”

Google’s algorithm is searching for longer, high quality content to share with users. It is also designed to make sure you aren’t manipulating the system through irrelevant, inaccurate information by looking at your website’s content as a whole. By creating long, well-written articles that cover every aspect of your expertise, you’re proving to Google that you’re an authority. Core DNA summarizes it nicely: “You want your site to become the go-to resource in your industry; both your target audience and Google’s algorithms will appreciate it.”

4. Diversify Your Content Marketing Strategy with Multiple Formats

Two images side by side: A woman recording a podcast and a woman recording a video.Consider adding videos and podcasts to your content marketing strategy.

While long-form articles are valuable, they’re not the only way consumers are taking in content. People digest information through visual, auditory and tactical methods, so it would make sense that an effective content marketing strategy would include as many ways as possible to share your messages; make your content available to consumers in a variety of ways.

  • Video: According to Cisco, video will represent more than 80 percent of all internet traffic by 2019. In addition, Impact reports:
    • 75 million people in the U.S. watch videos online daily
    • Viewers retain 95 percent of a message in a video compared to 10 percent when reading it
    • Social video generates 1200 percent more shares than text and images combined
  • Podcasts: Audio content has become a growing trend in the last several years. According to Edison Research:
    • 24 percent of Americans report they listened to a podcast in the past month, an increase of 3 percent from last year
    • The most significant growth in monthly podcast listeners was ages 25-54, which jumped up to 31 percent (an increase of 7 percent from last year)
    • Within a week, listeners listen to an average of five podcasts
    • 85 percent of listeners listen to most of or the entire podcast episode
    • On average, listeners subscribe to 6 podcasts

The good news is you don’t need to be a professional videographer or podcaster to use these trends as part of your content marketing strategy. Here are specific ways we do this at Three Girls Media that you can easily apply to your company:

  • We record our CEO, Erika Taylor Montgomery, sharing helpful video tips
  • We create video slideshows sharing marketing advice
  • We use micro-podcasting site Chirp to share brief two-minute audio insight
  • We design graphics to share helpful tips and tricks

In addition to developing content in a variety of media, we publicize all of them so our target audience can consume whichever forms resonate with them best. Promote all your content marketing messages everywhere you can by posting them on your blog, including them in your email newsletter and sharing them on your social media channels.

5. Use Visual Elements Strategically in Your Content Marketing

Two happy friends sharing media content on line with their smart phones lying on colorful puff in a house interiorThanks to visual search, images are playing an even larger role in content marketing.

The power of the visual in content marketing isn’t new, however the way that images are being used is. In addition to attracting users’ eyes for consumers that visit your website, visual search is becoming more popular as the technology has improved. Spin Sucks has a nice definition of visual search:

Consumers can simply take a picture with their smartphone and upload it to a search engine like Pinterest to quickly find that product for purchase online. Or, they can use an image search to find products to complement the general aesthetic they are going for. Pinterest has really pioneered this form of search. But Google will be close behind, with its already vast index of images.

As you upload images to your website, keep visual search in mind. In addition to being high quality, include as many details as possible in the file itself so search engines know if it’s relevant to an image search.

6. Embrace Social Commerce as Part of Your Content Marketing

Happy Women with Smart Phone and Shopping BagsYour content marketing strategy should make it as easy as possible for customers to purchase.

Do you sell products online? If so, social commerce can be incredibly useful for your content marketing strategy. Instagram’s shoppable posts let users discover and purchase your products right from their app, as does Facebook’s Marketplace.

How can you incorporate social commerce into your content marketing strategy? Share images and videos of users enjoying your product, showcase the product’s various features, etc. As Hootsuite explains, “It’s important to remember that what distinguishes social commerce from other channels is the social aspect. Finding ways to make shopping live, interactive, and seamless—even on mobile devices—is key.”

7. Include Ads in Your Content Marketing Strategy

Advertising Advertise Branding Commercial Marketing ConceptYour content marketing strategy should include creative ads.

While organic social media continues to be important to your content marketing efforts, the most effective strategies include an element of paid opportunities; studies show nearly one out of every four Facebook pages advertise.

It’s also important to note that 85 percent of users ignore ads and focus on organic search results. This tells us that for your brand’s advertising to pay off, it needs to provide value to your target audience – just like your organic content – instead of being overly sales-y.

Here are some helpful steps for successful advertising (via Hootsuite):

  • Understand and target the right audience
  • Define your goals and metrics
  • Invest in high-quality content
  • Repurpose concepts from top-performing organic content
  • Use what you’ve learned from previous campaigns to improve performance
  • Split-test for success

Ads are definitely an investment, but when paired with all your other content marketing tactics they can be extremely beneficial.

8. Collaborate on Content Marketing Objectives

Team Corporate Teamwork Collaboration Assistance ConceptComplementary businesses can be an asset for your content marketing strategy!

As brands work towards creating compelling content for target audiences, some are partnering with complementary companies to collaborate on specific projects.

Core DNA shares an example where, “Ride-hailing company Uber has also delved into the creation of collaborative content, partnering with both Pandora and Spotify to help personalize its customers’ ride via their favorite music.”

What types of businesses complement your products or services? Reach out to them find out if you can help with each others’ content marketing efforts! Don’t be afraid to get creative in your collaboration!

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