Brands

10 Content Marketing Predictions That Will Make You Sound Really Smart

By Amanda Walgrove February 9th, 2015

It’s only February, and brands are already proving 2015 is going to be huge for content marketing. Over the next 11 months, we expect brands to take big risks so they can build bigger audiences. But how will they do it? There’s no shortage of answers to that question, considering marketers have been predicting the biggest trends of 2015 since the end of last year.

So, if you’re still beefing up your strategy for the new year, or you’re curious as to how to jump in those content marketing waters and make the biggest splash, we’ve collected the most important predictions right here.

1. Budgets for content marketing across most industries will reach record highs.

Forbes included this point in their “Top 7 Content Marketing Trends That Will Dominate 2015,” noting that 58 percent of B2B marketers plan to increase their content marketing budgets in the next year.

This forecast also touches on an important trend we found in our own 2014 survey of 600 marketers: Over 33 percent of respondents noted that a lack of budget was their biggest challenge to creating effective content.

It’s very promising that companies are devoting more money to content. The more they spend on high quality projects, the more likely it is they’ll be able to stand out from their competitors and other publishers. Even if marketers have big plans for content campaigns, they still need the capital to back them up. On that note: Check out our guide for how to secure a bigger budget in 2015.

2. Paid ads will become unavoidable.

Social Media Examiner compiled a comprehensive list of “28 Social Media Marketing Predictions for 2015 From the Pros.” Among these predictions, certain patterns emerge. A few people believe video will explode in 2015, and others expect SlideShare to surge ahead as a key platform for B2B marketing. But the biggest prediction on people’s minds? The importance of paid distribution.

As Kristi Hines writes:

We already know that Facebook plans to stifle organic promotional posts in the news feed starting in January 2015, and that Twitter hasn’t ruled out implementing a Facebook-like algorithm for their news feed. Instagram is still busy expanding their advertising platform, and since they’re owned by Facebook, an algorithm that limits organic posts from businesses and brands could easily be added into the mix.

Hence, social media marketers who might have avoided social advertising in 2014 will be forced to embrace it in 2015.

For more on how to own your sponsored campaigns, check out our Paid Social Distribution Playbook.

3. Context will play a bigger role in personalization.

Rebecca Lieb, an analyst at Altimeter Group, published an impressive list of data-based predictions—excuse me, research—for 2015. While her entire report is worth a read, her ideas about “context” as a complement to “content” are particularly noteworthy.

Lieb writes:

Context’s untapped opportunity is to get an extremely granular understanding of customers, then to anticipate their needs, wants, affinities, and expectations and develop unique insights to power better marketing across all devices, channels, localities, and brand experiences. Context, in other words, takes not only the “who” into account, but also the when, where, why, and how. Simply put — it’s deeper targeting and more on-point messaging.

As more brands look to explore personalized marketing and technologies that can reach specific consumers, context will play a crucial role in how publishers distribute content. For example, Facebook just introduced its new Place Tips feature, which places recommendations in users’ News Feeds based on their locations so they can see content on pages for restaurants, museums, shops, etc., and even see what friends have said about it.

4. There will be no room for “medium-sized” content.

11 Bold Content Marketing Predictions for 2015,” published by Inbound Marketing Agents, gives a shout-out to our own VP of content, Sam Slaughter, who shares his prediction that “the term ‘snackable content’ will mercifully be put out of its misery.” (Slaughter also voiced his frustrations about the term in our content team’s insane HipChat debate.) However, while “snackable content” may not go away as long as platforms like Twitter are still around, it seems there’s another type of content being edged out: medium-sized content.

Puranjay Singh writes:

recent study by Buzzsumo showed that people are far more likely to share lengthy, in-depth content. Part of this is for SEO purposes–Google favors posts over 2,000 word on its front page–and partly because consumers are sick of the same regurgitated 500-word pieces.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, micro-content–tweets, 6 second Vines, Snapchats, Whisper secrets, small infographics–continues to grow at breakneck speeds.

So, what’s left to die out? Medium-sized content. For content creators struggling with the length of their content, it’s important to remember that not every topic deserves 2,000 words. If your articles are only coming in at 500 words, the solution isn’t to keep writing filler until you hit 1,000. Rather, the better strategy is to adjust your content mindset to pick topics worthy of more words. This way, you’ll be offering your readers an opportunity to fully immerse themselves in your content, take the information that’s helpful to them, and associate that positive experience with your brand.

5. The “subculture influencer” will become more important.

Marketing consultant Brian Honigman’s 6 Content Marketing Predictions for 2015 focuses on a subject that went untouched in most other prediction lists: social media subcultures. Subcultures often consist of small, highly engaged communities that convene on a social platform in order to share information about a niche product or industry.

Honigman writes:

From Google’s socialization of search with Google+ or the extension of the Facebook “like” button to nearly every site online, our social ties are increasingly shaping our experiences online… and with this fragmentation of online experiences will come new, unique and highly specialized “echo-chamber” subcultures.

These groups are of unique importance to brands because the degree of trust and loyalty amongst these niche subcultures means that once a brand or product or celebrity gains acceptance they are more likely to be embraced.

How are brands supposed to reach these subcultures? Through influencers, such as online celebrities with significant followings on YouTube, Instagram, and Vine. These influencers bring fans and followers who are usually very engaged and willing to listen because the relationship is much more personal. For example, as Digiday points out, luxury brands like Mercedes-Benz, Maserati, and Dom Pérignon, have partnered with popular Instagrammers in order to increase exposure.

6. 2015 will see the rise and eventual preeminence of mobile data.

TopRank’s “21 Digital Marketing Trends & Predictions for 2015” features insights from content marketing leaders representing Marketo, MarketingProfs, Google, Intel, and more. One of the most on-the-mark predictions comes from Tom Webster, vice president of Edison Research, who has some interesting thoughts about the rise of mobile:

Consider this—I’m walking around town, listening to online radio over my phone, and I hear an audio ad for a product that might interest me. In the past, were I to hear that ad, I’d have to remember the name of the company, then go home and use a search engine to learn more about the company before an eventual purchase. Who gets the attribution credit in that scenario? Search, sadly—and a most undeserved credit it would be.

But the continual removal of barriers between message and action that mobile gives us (for those who begin to think that way) will begin to restore the balance of the Force for attribution, and digital marketers can start to get away from channel-based thinking and move towards a more human behavior-centered model, with mobile serving as the unifying principle to unite offline and offline marketing.

7. Content marketing will go supernova with visual storytelling.

Does Your 2015 Content Marketing Strategy Cover These Trends?” published by Marketing Tech Blog, features a nifty infographic that covers just about every big-picture topic that marketers are thinking about. Number eight on that list predicts that the importance of visually compelling content will only increase in the year ahead. The blog is in good company—as BuzzFeed pointed out last September, two factors will likely control the future of branded content: video and mobile.

8. LinkedIn will continue to dominate industry and marketing news. And will be the dominant social channel for content distribution.

Last year, LinkedIn was in prime position to become the new best friend of B2B marketers, and as noted in Kapost’s “2015 Content Marketing Predictions,” that won’t change anytime soon. In fact, LinkedIn’s influence will only grow stronger.

As Jean Spencer writes:

LinkedIn is making powerful strategic moves suggesting that it wants to be a noteworthy player in the marketing technology space: it bought Bizo, it launched “posts,” and it now has featured news.

These moves by LinkedIn will help the platform stand out even more as the place for marketers to emerge at thought leaders and share their insights about their industries. As Business Insider reported, LinkedIn plans to be a $1 billion business by 2017, becoming “the most effective online platform form marketers to engage with professionals.” Not only should marketers bolster their paid distribution strategies, they should also take a good look at what LinkedIn can offer them.

9. The push for quality content will highlight the need for professional writers.

Visually’s “Five B2B Marketing Trends for 2015 That You Should Get a Head Start on Now” was published back in the middle of last year, but seven months later, its forecast still holds true:

The need for well-crafted copy and visuals goes hand-in-hand with one of content marketers’ consistent pain points of not being able to produce enough to fill their content pipelines. In a 2013 copywriting survey by UK-based content marketing firm Sticky Content, two-thirds of respondents reported that product managers and marketing do the majority of the digital writing in the business. They are already juggling so many balls, the time and effort they devote to crafting copy is decreasing. This will lead forward-thinking marketers to seek out either experienced content writers or outsource writing to agencies or marketplaces that specialize in writing or creating content.

As brand publishers figure out how to structure their newsrooms, they’ll be looking to source the best talent, either by contracting freelance writers or building in-house teams, a debate we address in one of our best-performing pieces this year, “Build vs. Buy: Why Top Brands Are Leaning on Freelancers to Build Hybrid Newsrooms.”

10. Medium-sized and large businesses will begin to purchase niche media companies because they thirst for creating real relationships with their target audiences.

The Content Marketing Institute wasn’t going to be satisfied with just a blog post about what 2015 might have in store. Instead, they published a whole e-book on SlideShare: “60 Content Marketing Predictions for 2015.” The compilation includes stats and predictions from huge players in content marketing, including Joe Pulizzi, the founder of Content Marketing Institute. This particular prediction marks one of the biggest changes that could be ahead for content marketing. Basically, the secret’s out: Everyone knows you need content marketing to stay in the game. But for those who won’t look inward to build out their teams—and for those who have the capital to do so—they’ll latch onto media companies that are already successful at building engaged audiences.

These predictions cover a wide range of topics, which just shows brands primed to succeed in content marketing will need a holistic approach that includes distribution, social media, talent, and multimedia. In order to target the right consumers, brands have to know what their audiences want and how they want it. That has always been the case, but as 2015 progresses, brands have even more knowledge about how they can refine their content marketing. We’re excited to see what they come up with.

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