Say the word to a group of marketers and you'll reflexively hear the word or even better data which may or may not then be followed by eye rolls (and if you're lucky awkward laughs). If you're like most millennials, you may feel an urgent need to run in the opposite direction. And we won't blame you. Tracking trends (and especially reading about trends) can be fun (when done right) but it also has a bad rap. Savvy marketers know that you can't seriously use the word in a headline without making fun of yourself (or the word itself).
Even if you're a millennial, you know that trends are not your friends (say that aloud three times fast). So what's a marketer or millennial to do if you need to know the latest in your industry, especially when you need to know the qualities to market to millennials?
Well, we can always rely on our man Webster to keep it real, so let's see where he's coming from. According to Webster, trends are the general direction in which something is developing or changing. The thing is, you're already an on on-trend human being if you are:
- Not caring what others are doing
- Aware of how best to leverage trends (instead of identifying them)
- Reading this article (or skimming through if you're super cool)
Trends in content marketing are more about aligning with a higher purpose so that you can evolve your brand. Even though this headline may give you an instinctive urge to run away, you may want to read on anyway. Either way, let's sashay into what's happening (for reals) in content marketing right now.
Let's start with:
The move beyond superficial measures of influence
Acquiring likes and followers for the sake of it is now officially seen as circa 2007 and yes, 2007 was almost 10 years ago (an eternity in the digital age!) But let's be real: Accumulating numbers of people that follow or friend you should never be the goal. Today's digital influence comes from harnessing our human hearts. Sure, shortcutting the route to realness exists in any era. But in today's society of superficial status, more does not always equate to effective marketing.
To break through the noise with human content, you'll need to know that 1,000 engaged followers in your audience is better than an audience of 100,000 who are not engaged in what you publish. The days of ego-driven metrics and superficial statuses are dwindling by the day. In order to move beyond the status quo into more meaning, you'll want to create content with an edge. As referenced in this article, human content with an edge allows you to:
- Access knowledge for your readers so that you bridge gaps
- Tell meaningful stories that bring value to your audience
- Create a forward-thinking culture
- Gain a competitive advantage without checking a box.
If you are in fact looking to check a box many publishers are moving into the world of influencer marketing. But before you go down this path, it's important to take the time to nurture this strategy with the necessary time and energy. The right influencer strategy is less about superficial one-shot transactions and more about winning influencers and friending people. This approach yields more effective results over time.
Emotional content is more crucial than ever.
You're a savvy marketer, so you probably saw this one coming. You're already aware that most people are no longer persuaded by mere product specifications or features (boring!) Your customers want to hit the trifecta with each article: they want to be: educated, informed, and entertained. The connection that gets created between you and your audience when the emotions happen is priceless.
The thing is, emotional storytelling is not something that's easily created. Sure, anyone can create the lowest common denominator videos. Just look to one of the most-watched YouTube videos as an example. It's a 2007 viral video called Charlie Bit My Finger that has over 839 million views.
But this type of content is not good for most business brands.
It may be seen as cute, but it's regarded as kitsch. Kitsch is content that lacks context. Even though it's emotional, you'll want to create something a bit more quality and on-par with your brand. The best emotional content has empathy for your customers. This trait alone will guide them to an eventual purchase or it'll make your audience want to tell others about your product or service.
When customers feel a strong emotional connection to your story (or your content!) your brand will stand out and get noticed in an authentic way. Your content is not: forced, fast, or fake and your customers can feel that it's genuine.
Source information that's short and sweet
When you source information in a concise way, you'll stay on top of the content marketing industry so that you can seek success that lasts longer. This is important because according to Digital Information World, the average attention span is 8.25 seconds. This means that your content needs to be short, sweet, and effectively sourced.
According to Adam Mordechai, Editor at Large of Upworthy, in an article on Nowsourcing, content needs to source information in order to be a win. He even says so with a cartoon:
Being an effective publisher today means knowing how and where to source your information and ideas so that you can address your customers pain points in a creative, fun way. It's the new requirement for all brands.
Connecting with your customers through content marketing is an endless process of empathy, emotions, and maintaining an edge. Whether you're a brand that's on-trend or you're a marketer on the mend, content marketing wins in the world of the web(ster) no matter which on-trend definition you choose.
Want to talk about your content marketing strategy? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org and someone from my team will get back to you.
This article originally appeared in the studio.