The content marketing landscape shifts dramatically from one year to the next. Trends that seemed promising just a few months ago have since been abandoned, making way for new developments. All signs point to even bigger changes in 2018, with the end of net neutrality and the much-promised adoption of artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things spurring an exciting but challenging marketing arena.
New Trends For 2018
Legislative changes may drive the most significant content marketing developments of 2018, but consumers will also see shifts prompted by the internet’s rapidly-changing ecosystem.
The End of Net Neutrality
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will end 2017 with a vote on net neutrality, which prohibits internet providers from blocking, speeding up, or slowing down select content. All signs point to the FCC voting against net neutrality, sparking a sea change in the very structure of the internet in the United States. Predictions for the post-net neutrality internet differ considerably, but many agree that providers will largely focus on bundling services in an approach modeled off of cable television.
What does this mean for content marketing? A lack of net neutrality will eliminate the even playing field established for businesses of all sizes. Smaller companies hoping to expand through revolutionary marketing campaigns could face more of an uphill battle as they compete against established internet giants. Far-reaching marketing campaigns may prove less effective, especially as internet users restrict social media accounts based on which are included in the most affordable bundles.
Internet of Things: Taking Content Off the Screen
Sight no longer constitutes the primary means of interacting with a mobile device. Siri and other voice recognition tools make it easier for users to obtain much-needed information. This exchange will continue to move beyond Siri and Alexa in 2018, with new apps and wearable technology harnessing the power of sight, touch, even smell. Greater content diversity will enable marketers to better target their message to unique customer niches. Expect a wider variety of smart home speakers and a renewed emphasis on smart watches — perfect conduits for the Internet of Things. Experts at Forrester anticipate a “tsunami wave of voice activated devices shipping to consumers in 2018.”
Trust in institutions remains at an all-time low, but internet users are still willing to heed advice from loved ones. In its Global Trust in Advertising report, Nielsen revealed that 83 percent of respondents trusted those they knew. Conversely, just 46 percent of those surveyed admitted to placing any trust in social network ads. In 2018, brands will capitalize on this discovery by moving past simple reposts and retweets. Instead, companies will leverage high-quality consumer-driven content and integrate it into larger social media campaigns as seamlessly as possible.
Existing Trends Still Going Strong
Some of 2018’s biggest content marketing trends will be carry-overs from 2017. Don’t expect an exact replication, however, as existing trends will adapt to meet the ever-increasing personalization of the online experience.
Original and Addictive Content
From Netflix Originals to intriguing new blog posts, internet providers and search engines will continue to favor unique content that immediately captures’ viewers interest. Demand for ‘spun’ content is at an all-time low, in part because search engine algorithms largely rely on quality, as opposed to keyword stuffing. This has been the case for years, but some companies are slower to grasp the importance of quality content than others. In 2018, the last hangers-on of the keyword stuffing days will see the light and begin to pursue a more strategic approach to content development and management.
Google Rich Answers
Forget landing the first page on Google — the businesses of 2018 will compete for the enticing answer at the top of each list of search results. Known as Google Rich Answers, this useful feature provides direct answer to common queries, rather than forcing users to sift through entries on a typical search engine results page (SERP). Experts at Search Engine Watch claim that Google’s answer box prompts an astounding click-through rate of 32.3 percent.
Irrelevant 2017 Trends
Quick shifts in internet marketing cause select trends to become irrelevant just as businesses get acquainted. In 2018, get ready to bid adieu to extensive cause marketing and fancy pre-recorded videos.
At one time, internet users appreciated charitable efforts promoted by the brands they loved most. Companies took advantage of this goodwill and launched cause marketing campaigns, aimed more at favorable PR than at the cause itself. Consumers now see through this ploy, and many express doubts regarding so-called goodwill campaigns. Cause marketing can still work, but companies cannot simply rely on a charitable announcement to increase trust among consumers. Users demand full transparency, and they want charitable initiatives to match the overarching theme and message at the basis of the promoted brand.
Pre-recorded videos may not disappear completely in 2018, but they will become a lesser share of the video marketing sphere. Instead, businesses and consumers will shift their focus away from big budget pre-recorded films and towards on-the-spot videos.
Turns out, video quality doesn’t matter as much to viewers as relevance. FOMO is real, and internet users don’t want to be left behind. Statistics highlighted by Wired indicate that Facebook users spend three times as much time on live videos and are ten times more likely to comment.
If there’s one lesson to be learned from next year’s trends, it’s that internet users demand the most personalized and relevant content possible. Those on the cutting edge of content marketing’s most exciting trends can expect increased customer engagement and loyalty — and everyone else risks falling behind.