While many of us are currently trying to power through final deadlines, this is an important time to look ahead and prepare for the year to come. With old paradigms falling away and the ever-increasing din of online content continuing to reach alarming volumes, 2015 will be an exciting, but also challenging year for content marketing. Future content winners and losers will be defined more than ever by content distribution strategies and consumers themselves.
With this in mind, I have compiled my own predictions on content marketing trends in 2015.
- Rise of the Brand Story
Just like your favorite comic book characters have an origin story, so will your favorite brands. Brands have been telling stories through advertising for decades, but this tactic will shift away from selling to creating a more personal and humanizing narrative. The content produced around this unique brand identity will be supported by an increased emphasis on customer-generated content, shared across multiple channels seamlessly.
- Top Down Content Creation Goes Bottom Up
Customer-generated content is already being incorporated more and more into marketing strategies, and in 2015, it will most likely take the spotlight. Not only is content created by third parties more cost-effective, but it is also an unbiased way to support the new emphasis on a well-rounded brand identity. Rather than continue to spend considerable resources creating a surplus of new content, brands will prioritize existing material supplied by their best independent brand advocates—actual customers.
- Transition from Pure Creation to Performance-Based Content and Promotion.
Building on the greater reliance on customer-generated content in #2, many brands will start putting less emphasis on volume and instead focus on promoting quality. The struggle to create valuable content that can stand out from the crowd online will continue to plague marketers, and the solution will be to create less and promote better.
Not that they will stop creating all together, but many brands already have a surplus of material and no concrete distribution strategy. The shift from pure content creation to a focus on quality performance-based content will be where the real differentiation happens. Getting the most mileage out of each asset created will be the new focus, as well as reaching new customers and business goals through multiple distribution strategies.
- New Emphasis on Creating “Content Centers of Excellence”
We have had several clients that have seen great success with this tactic in 2014. As more brands embrace the publisher persona and take a more tactical approach to content, it will be important to ensure that everything is accessible from a central location. A “publisher” style page not only helps create better content experiences and grow audiences free of social algorithm restrictions, but also facilitates more sharing and deeper exploration into additional owned materials through recommended content.
- Less Creating Content for Consumption and More Using it to Start a Dialogue
2015 will be a big year for performance-based content. If marketers want to be successful, they will have to move past creating content just for current users and begin to create assets that start a mutual dialogue—and address pain points that consumers are experiencing. Consumer are sick of being sold to and in response are developing increasing immunity to old tactics. Content going forward will be less about selling and more about helping people make the best and most informed decision.
- Mobile Will Go From a Nice-to-Have, to a Must-Have
Mobile optimized sites are becoming more of a necessity as consumers move increasingly from desktops to mobile devices. In 2015 and beyond, websites that don’t have responsive design will go from annoyance to blacklist by consumers looking to get a seamless experience on any device.
Additionally, the dominance of mobile will put greater emphasis on the need for lighter, more “snackable” content forms. Namely, video will become an incredibly powerful tool for brand awareness, especially considering the options already available from Instagram’s Hyperlapse to Vine, and much more.
- Declining Reach of Organic Social Content
The amount of content on the web has grown to mind blowing proportions—and is still increasing every day. Social networks are no better off when it comes to content overload, and because of this the ability to reach target audiences has become very difficult. A report from March of this year found that organic page reach on Facebook was down to just 1%. This decline in organic reach will mean that brands will have to invest in paid efforts more than ever to see success on social channels. The cost to compete will most likely push out many smaller content producers in 2015.
Not that it is or will become impossible to cultivate a robust following without advertising, but the ROI generated from increased organic efforts will continue to decrease.
- Rise of Content Analytics
Even now, it is no longer okay to create content and just measure organic social signals, engagement, reach and amplification. Going forward brands will have to think about how content can deliver inbound activity to the top of the funnel and measure how this translates into creating actual demand for products and solutions. Establishing the proper tracking mechanisms to measure the full user journey will be a key to content marketing success in 2015.
While many of these predictions and others will come to fruition in the years to come, there are still a lot of unknowns when it comes to the future of content marketing. But far from daunting, these ‘what ifs’ offer some exciting opportunities for brands and agencies alike to pave new paths and find unique ways to connect with new and existing customers.
Just Media, Inc.
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