Over the past five years, content marketing has gone from being the ‘shiny new object’ in marketing to one which is taken as seriously as SEO, SEM, and social media.
But just like these other digital disciplines, content marketing is constantly changing. Over the years, we’ve seen trends such as brands becoming publishers, the emergence of video, and native advertising all become significant parts of content programmes.
So what does 2018 have in store for content marketing? What are the leading brands doing with content that will soon be more widely adopted?
To find out, Econsultancy recently invited dozens of brand marketers to Digital Cream Singapore to discuss this and other topics at hosted roundtables. The table dedicated to content marketing was hosted by Eu Gene Ang, Lead Trainer, Asia, Econsultancy and below are summaries of the top three trends discussed on the day.
So what are the content marketing trends for 2018?
1) The hyper-personalisation of content
The first trend identified by participants is that the 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-personalising content for their many segments.
To help, YouTube has recently offered a service, Director Mix, 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, behaviour (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.
Participants were asked if ‘one-to-one’ pieces of content were on the horizon and while no one is doing it yet, it was not completely ruled out as a potential future direction for content creation.
2) Using influencers is on the rise
Another content marketing trend identified by attendees was that the use of influencers by brands is increasing.
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.
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, company employees. Mentioned by a few attendees, these employee advocacy efforts are formalized programmes which enlist employees to deliver brand messaging through their personal social networks.
Whether influencer programmes 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) Localisation of content
The final trend identified by participants is that the balance between global and local content production is shifting.
Attendees said that, previously, content was typically created at the global headquarters and delivered to local offices for translation and media placement. Now, there is a growing realisation by global brands that simply translating content pieces does not work.
As one marketer put it, ‘content originating at the European HQ doesn’t resonate in South-East Asia’.
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 segments.
Most attendees agreed that there is still tension between global and local offices, but that the trend for 2018 is to produce more content locally.
A word of thanks
Econsultancy would like to thank our table host Eu Gene Ang, Lead Trainer, Asia, Econsultancy for guiding the discussion and eliciting the content marketing trends for 2018.
We’d also like to thank all of the marketers who attended Digital Cream Singapore 2017 and shared their valuable insights. We hope to see you all at future Econsultancy events!