Content Marketing Trends of 2018

If content marketing harnesses all the persuasive power of the best copywriting, advertising and branding, let’s look at how those trends will improve for the year ahead.

With all that has been implemented in content marketing in the past three years, here is a survey of the trends:

1) The hyperpersonalization of content.

Cutting edge brands are no longer producing just one post or video, but marketers now may make thousands of content pieces for a single campaign.

The reason for this massive increase is that marketers are hyper-personalizing content for their many segments.

Director Mix from YouTube which allows brands to deliver thousands of videos in one campaign. Which video a consumer sees is determined by a wide variety of factors including demographics, behavior (i.e. what they search or click on), apps they have downloaded, and even on where they have been (physically, using Google Maps data).

With all of these data points, marketers now have the information to deliver content which is much more relevant to the consumer. For example, a consumer who is searching for a sporting goods store could be shown a ski-related video if they had recently been to a skiing area.

2) Using influencers is on the rise

Another content marketing trend is the use of influencers by brands.

While luxury brands and cosmetics have been using influencers for many years, now nearly all brands are looking to partner with individuals who have amassed significant followings on social media.

The reason for this change is that marketers are looking for a way to deliver the brand message in a way which is more authentic than advertising.

To this end, many brands which are new to influencer marketing are not seeking the big name ‘key opinion leaders’ with millions of followers, but instead are targeting ‘micro-influencers’, or those with 10,000 to 100,000 followers.

McKinsey notes that over a decade after their first collaboration, creative chief Karl Lagerfeld has a partnered with film director Baz Luhrmann to produce a short film on a woman who can embody a luxury brand. “The one that I want” — stars model Gisele Bündchen and features the perfume, along with clothing and other Chanel products.

A series of YouTube videos extend the campaign beyond the film with shorts on the making of the film, interviews with Luhrmann on both projects, behind-the-scenes footage from Chanel’s studio, and more.

Typically, participants noted, the micro-influencers will not be paid much, if at all, for helping distribute content but rather they will be given inside knowledge, advanced notice, or free products to help them deliver unique content to their audience.

Marketers are also working with influencers who are much closer to the brand and company employees. These employee advocacy efforts are formalized programs which enlist employees to deliver brand messaging through their personal social networks.

Whether influencer programs are effective over the long term is not yet clear, but what is certain is that in 2018 more brands will seek to partner with individuals to get their content distributed on social networks.

3) Localization of content

Another 2018 trend is that the balance between global and local content production is shifting.

Previously, content was typically created at the global headquarters and delivered to local offices for translation and media placement. Now, there is a growing realization by global brands that simply translating content pieces does not work.

So instead of translating, local offices are now ‘trans-creating’ content. What this means is that local offices are given content elements (images, headlines, etc.) and the strategy and the local office now uses the media assets to create their own content.

Not only does this produce content which is more suitable for local markets, but trans-creation also lets the local office create content specifically for local segments, which often differ from global markets.

For 2018, most content will remain local.

4) Marketers Will Get Smarter About Why They’re Producing Content

At the beginning of the modern content marketing era almost a decade again, very few marketers had a documented strategy.

More content marketers are taking their programs more seriously these days, Ann Handley, chief content officer of MarketingProfs, which provides training for marketers says. They’re more likely to ensure that content is tied to specific business strategies and goals, and that their content marketing programs are well documented (instead of ‘random’).

Among top-performing B2B marketers, 62 percent have a documented content marketing strategy, according to a recent survey conducted by MarketingProfs and the Content Marketing Institute. But there’s still room for improvement, Handley notes. According to the survey, 37% of all B2B marketers have a documented content marketing strategy, while 38% have a strategy but it’s not documented.

Documenting your content marketing strategy is key, Handley says. “It’s hard to get others to buy into a strategic content marketing strategy unless you have the strategy documented. What are you trying to achieve? Who are you trying to reach? What do you want them to do? That needs to be documented.”

Ultimately, “creating great content consistently and at scale requires a strategic editorial process, with measurement integrated into the broader business strategy,” notes Robert Rose, chief strategy advisor for The Content Advisory, the consulting and advisory group of The Content Marketing Institute. “And, ironically, solving that challenge is the only way marketing teams will be able to explore new and interesting shiny acronyms and new technologies will enter the realm of content marketing like AI, VR and AR. Stay tuned as these go beyond the hype to become full fledged components of content marketing!

Ph.D. Fulbright Scholar. AI/ML, Cybersecurity, Data Analytics & EdTech Content Marketing Mgr./Storyteller/Continuous Learner. Startups, Cisco, U.S. State Dept.