Content Marketing Predictions 2016 And Where We Are Heading (In The UK)
It’s time to move on from saying to doing. The role of content marketing is evolving within the UK.
I have always believed that we shouldn’t become obsessed with looking into the future too much. It is more important to concentrate on what we have and develop the skills we want to nurture.
So, I am going to change the ‘predictions’ into the following year and look a lot more short term and showcase how the skills that we are growing can be applied in the first few months of 2016.
Content Marketing Predictions 2016
This article is shaped by the recent release (9th December) of the Content Marketing Institute’s annual Content Marketing in the UK 2016 – Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends report. Always fascinating reading.
Within this article and where we are heading, I promise you won’t see any ‘development of virtual reality as a content platform’ here. This is based purely on the role for small businesses accumulating knowledge and being realistic.
An important aspect is to acknowledge that people trust and follow actions not words. According to Nielsen Global Survey Of Trust in Advertising, 2015, people trust people not corporations. This is where we are heading, if we can build engaging content that informs, educates and entertains (based on understanding our audience) then others will feel confident in recommending what you produce. This is about showcasing what you know, not what you say.
The past few years we have seen in many places the mantra to ‘be committed to create consistently amazing content’ then sit back and reap the rewards (if only it was that easy). I’d like to think that we have moved beyond this hyperbole and started to add more substance in what works rather than regurgitate what has been said before with no substance.
It is time to move away from the belief that content works when you have a ‘tribe of rabid fans’. Lets get a bit more realistic and talk on a level where others can back up with conviction. For instance, if a company is dictating to you that you need to consider Instagram for B2B marketing, lets be open and show how it works from the experiences that we have had.
People trust people, not organisations and logos. Lets start to demonstrate our knowledge and put ourselves in scenarios we may not necessarily be comfortable with (a new channel with more conviction).
Lets have a look at some predictions for you to think about for 2016.
Are you ready, then lets go…
Everything isn’t content
I would like to think that 2016 sees the clarity of what content marketing is and a term being clearly defined. For instance, The Dove campaign for real beauty is just that, a campaign, it isn’t content marketing. When I see a film, my first words would never be, ‘that’s a great piece of content.’
Everything today is seen as content and many jump on a bandwagon to shoehorn that what they do is all related to content. The design agency is now becoming a content agency, the SEO company is becoming a content marketing agency.
If companies are proclaiming that they are taking a new route, then what they need to do is show that they are committed. As the old saying goes, ‘Actions speak louder than words.’
Investing in participatory events
The reason I use participatory, not ‘in person events’ is that the whole premise of a content driven approach is to encourage a dialogue.
It comes back to this idea of putting yourself into scenarios you are not familiar with, but encourage the development of an audience that goes way beyond a blog and sitting behind a screen to get a point across.
With the ease of channels such as Eventbrite to organise and set-up, if you can build an audience and use a workshop format that sits behind the cause/belief that you stand for, you stand a better chance of getting people to come rather than a ‘networking start to the day and meet like minded individuals.’ The key ingredient is to become the thing that you stand for.
The role to entertain
I have highlighted a number of times this year, that if you are competing with everyone and everything, then you have to step out of the dry B2B language and take a role that entertains.
Generations of business practice has told us that we can’t be ‘soft’ and to follow the mantra of A,B,C (always be closing).
You are not a robot, it is your role to connect with others and understand that you can still achieve economic success if you show empathy, understanding and not take yourself too seriously. It is time to get to know your audience a bit better and come out from the LinkedIn invitation template.
It is time to think beyond the written word. We blog because we can and once you are up and running, all you need is a capacity to write and to press the ‘publish’ button.
It is time for us all to come out from beneath our shells and take the ideas that we create into new formats and let them have a new sense of life. The monthly articles take the shape of a Periscope broadcast, the thought process becomes a series of podcast features that becomes a regular habit. You have to move out of your comfort zone and understand that your audience can get fidgety knowing that the only space they can contact you is within a digital space. It’s is time to stand up and be seen and also heard.
The objective for creating content is about leading a conversation. Everything that you are doing today has to be about facilitating a dialogue and people becoming more interactive with you. This can then lead to building a customer base through to someone who advocates what you believe in.
2015 was the year I decided to take things offline, it worked and your can read more here.
According to the recent Content Marketing Institute, Content Marketing in the UK 2016 report (9th December), the average number of tactics used are 13 different types of communication.
I say, lets identify the channels we are good at and get even better, rather than be everywhere because it’s easy to press a button.
Fact, experience, opinion
We have all spent far too long giving an opinion and putting it in front of someone else (via Twitter, LinkedIn). Just because you have lived something and believe in a point of view, doesn’t mean that someone else has to.
Businesses need to look at 2016 as a way to solidify what they believe in. To deliver an opinion is supported by two key areas, experience and facts. Everyone can provide an opinion, but facts sell and reaffirm a point.
You have to stop producing more content to fill a funnel but deliver your own evidence to support a point of view. Why think you have to produce more when you can strike a bigger chord by being more considered by producing less.
You can read more on this idea of fact, opinion and experience, it’s an article I wrote in October.
This is contrary to the recent Content Marketing in the UK report, where three of the top five biggest challenge for 2016 is effectively producing more content and putting more out there in the hope that someone will say, ‘that’s good content’ (see ‘everything isn’t content’ above).
Board level buy in
To convince board level to change an approach that has been engrained in interruption and self-promotion is one of the most challenging hurdles to get over.
To tell a senior level to stop marketing to themselves and wear the shoes of their audience has to be a make or break moment.
However, what we are now seeing is further proof of companies who are making a stand, owning the channels that are theirs and building their own audience, as opposed to renting for a short period of time.
2015 has unearthed some absolute gems for me from Marriott International to The Chromologist (from Farrow & Ball) to small businesses such as PCOS Diet Support. Companies I have all got to know a little closer. As an aside this company (PCOS Diet Support) has built a subscription based audience of over 50,000 and based in Wimborne, Dorset. If Google closed its doors tomorrow, it doesn’t matter to them.
Better defined objectives
According to the recent B2B Content Marketing Trends report, the top goals are sales (84%), engagement (83%) and lead generation (81%). For any investment to be successful there has to be a goal right from the very beginning that should become the path to follow and come back to make sure that the path isn’t veering off into a muddy field. You have to get to know your audience.
We are now approaching a time where we have to be more defined in what we want to achieve as businesses. Is the initial objective is to grow an audience that isn’t reliant on borrowing someone else’s, then perhaps it is time to stop thinking that the Facebook ad campaign is the route to continually follow.
As we move into 2016 your role as a business is to remain relentlessly inquisitive.
If you take the approach that you have a thirst for knowledge, then this puts you in a place where others are not. The ability to take knowledge, concepts, and theory on board and create your own interpretation is how the well of ideas will not run dry. This is an empowering place to be, to have the ability to share knowledge and for others to understand your approach. This is how we differentiate from the rest of the crowd.
It starts and ends with your audience
Back to the latest Content Marketing In The UK 2016 report.
The top priority for UK content creators is to create more engaging content (70%), whilst a better understanding of audience is lower down the list (46%). It is time to put precedence on who is consuming your content first rather than allocating more resources to creating content. If the audience isn’t in front of you to conduct in the first place, then it’s a pretty quiet orchestra.
I hope you can see that the overriding theme as we approach 2016 is to do more and tell less.
It is time to stand up and become braver. For instance, at the end of last year (2014), I would snapped your hand off if you would say that I had the opportunity to podcast every week and run a series of workshops throughout the year. It is by putting ourselves into scenarios we perhaps know little about that encourages us to have a bolder voice that connects with others.
The content you create that is present on the channels that you are part of has to be intended to make a difference, rather than pamper to a companies own self worth. It is what you do that matters, not purely what is said within the confines of a website or a social media site.