I know the headline caught your eye, but Valentines Day is long over. This is a different type of "hot" list, but it will excite you nonetheless. I promise.
Content marketing is the most effective method to attract your desired leads. Sure, it involves a lot of patience, planning, and effort, but its effectiveness is second to none.
During the 2014 Content Marketing World conference and expo, Julie Fleischer, former Kraft Media Executive, revealed that Kraft’s content marketing ROI was 4 times higher than their most targeted advertising. Pretty exciting, huh?
Despite its effectiveness and efficiency, content marketing is always evolving. As new technologies arise and shift the social landscape, marketers must adapt. We at Blue Writers are here to make it easier for you to decide which hot content marketing trends you should latch onto in 2017.
The 3 Hottest Content Marketing Trends
1. Live Video Streaming
Live video streaming has been around for over a decade now. Sites like Ustream.com and Justin.tv hit the net between 2006 and 2007 but saw little success. However, live video streaming has evolved into a massive content marketing medium over the past few years.
YouTube began offering live video streaming on the desktop in 2011. In 2014, Amazon purchased TwitchTV for $790 million. Fast forward to 2015, when Twitter spent a total of $86.6 million to acquire Periscope.
Periscope's growth, popularity, and massive success created a snowball effect. Consumer demand for mobile live streaming became too strong to ignore. Other tech giants soon set their sights on developing their own mobile live video streaming applications. Facebook introduced Facebook Live to the public in August of 2016. Six months later, YouTube finally launched the mobile version of its streaming app.
After seeing tech juggernauts hop aboard the mobile live video streaming hype train, many businesses realized its enormous potential for content marketing.
How can a business use live video streaming for content marketing purposes?
Here are a few ideas:
- Live Q&A Sessions. This takes your typical Reddit AMA to the next level. In 2015, AWeber held several live Q&A sessions on topics such as "How to Manager Your Time" or "How to Get Started With Content Marketing". In early 2017, lead developers from the hit game Hearthstone held a live Q&A to answer their player's biggest questions.
- Live Interviews. Conduct interviews with influencers and thought leaders in your industry.
- Live Events. In 2015, GE gave guided tours on Periscope during its #DRONEWEEK. The following summer, GE used Facebook Live to show how it was helping power the Olympic Games.
- Live Product Reveals. In 2016, GM used Facebook Live to roll out its new 2017 Chevy Bolt EV, becoming the first automaker to do so.
There are also several reasons why a business would choose to include live video streaming in its content marketing plan. Benefits of live video streaming include the following:
- Increased Brand Favorability. According to statistics from Twitter, live video streaming an event increases brand favorability by a whopping 63%.
- Interactivity. Through live video, marketers get a chance to be more interactive with their consumers. Research from Livestream found that 80% of people would rather watch a live video stream than read a blog post.
- Authenticity. The BCG found that millennials rank "being authentic" as the second most important quality that a brand can possess to "engage and interest" them. What better way to demonstrate authenticity to consumers than to show that you have nothing to hide?
Live video streaming allows for ultimate transparency. It provides businesses with many fresh, new ways to engage with their customers. Additionally, it gives many consumers what they desire from their brands: authenticity and interactivity.
Invest in live video streaming. Listen to Mark Zuckerberg's words from 2014: "In 5 years, most of Facebook will be video."
Scary thought, right? Not if you adapt your content marketing strategy. However, that quote does explain why Zuck was reportedly "obsessed" with making Facebook Live a top priority...
The term "podcasting" was coined in 2004. By whom? Who knows. But this was back when people were still debating whether to call it "audioblogging" or "guerillamedia". Today, however, podcasting is going toe-to-toe with the dinosaur media. What started off as an "experiment" to make broadcasting accessible to everyone quickly evolved into a remarkable content marketing platform.
Podcast listenership is growing—and fast. Here are a few facts from Edison Research regarding podcasting:
- Approximately 1 in 4 Americans between the ages of 12 and 54 have listened to at least one podcast within the last month.
- The percentage of Americans 12 and up who listen to at least one podcast per month has grown each of the last 4 years.
- The percentage of Americans 12 and up who listen to podcasts weekly grew from 10% to 13% between 2015 and 2016.
- In 2016, 64% of podcasts were listened to on mobile devices.
Recent podcast download numbers will astound you. The Joe Rogan Experience gets over 12 million downloads per month (30 million after Youtube). This American Life, a podcast hosted by Ira Glass, reports 2.5 million downloads per episode. Compare that to your biggest primetime news shows, which average 2 million views.
The point is that listening to podcasts is no longer a fringe activity. Podcasts are becoming a mainstream entertainment medium.
But why is podcasting growing in popularity? The short answer: versatility and accessibility.
Listeners can download podcasts to their mobile devices and play them offline. A trucker can listen to a podcast while driving from city to city. A mother can listen to a podcast while preparing mac and cheese for her children. An athlete can listen to podcasts while squeezing out the last few reps of shoulder press at the gym.
Podcasting is the most versatile form of content marketing—and it's also one of the easiest to make.
Starting Your Own Podcast
Let's go down the long, strenuous list of what you will need for your own podcast:
- A recording device
- Your brain
That's it. Live or pre-recorded, video or audio, guest-hosted or solo, short or long, scripted or improvised—those choices are up to you!
You don't have to limit your podcasts to your own website. You can also submit your feed to Stitcher and iTunes, or post your episodes on Youtube. Do whatever it takes to maximize the reach of your message. Use your podcast as a way to demonstrate your expertise about a subject. The number of people who want to carry you in their pocket will surprise you.
The art of storytelling is as timeless as it gets. It's hard to imagine humans without storytelling. But storytelling in relation to content marketing is a trending topic. The main reason: its potential for virality.
In 2013, Jonah Berger and Katherine from the University of Pennsylvania published a study titled "What Makes Online Content Viral." The study used a unique data set of nearly 7,000 New York Times Articles.
First, Berger and Milkman examined which articles ended up on the publication's "most emailed list." They controlled for factors such as where an article was featured online and for how long. They then examined whether an article was negative or positive and determined the specific emotions the article evoked. Following this, they tested to see if it had an effect on whether or not it was highly shared. Lastly, they manipulated the specific emotions to test for impact.
One of the most important findings of the study was that most viral articles evoked what Berger and Milkman refer to as "high-arousal emotions" (e.g., awe, excitement, and amusement). Keep this in mind for later.
During a conversation with Daniel DiPiazza, renown author/business guru Seth Godin was quoted as saying the following regarding virality:
Godin tells people to avoid trying to go viral, sure. But what is the gist of his advice? The answer: to evoke emotion so strong that the consumer of the content cannot function without reacting in some capacity.
In essence, Godin came to the same conclusion as Berger and Milkman did with their study: evoking "high-arousal emotions" helps content to go viral.
And these emotions are at the heart of storytelling. Good stories evoke strong emotions. They force people to react, even if they don't want to.
Here are two spectacular examples of content marketing storytelling done right:
- In 2013, Oreo debuted an animated commercial titled "Wonderfilled" during Superbowl XLVII. It received rave reviews and went viral shortly thereafter. The commercial features a song about the Big, Bad Wolf becoming friendly with the Three Little Pigs after receiving an Oreo, as well as a vampire who gained a thirst for milk instead of blood after biting into the cookie.
- A late 2016 PooPourri video ad titled "How to Poop at a Party" uses humor to keep its viewers tuned in for 4 and a half minutes. One of the commenters with the most thumbs up writes that "this ad is the first long one I haven't skipped..." When you scroll down the page, almost every commenter writes the same thing. That's what I call a success.
So does this mean that storytelling will automatically make your content go viral? No, of course not. But by telling stories that evoke awe, excitement, or amusement, we build stronger relationships with our consumers—and we increase our chances of going viral. How does that sound?
Consumers yearn for human stories and emotions. The results show it. It's time to give the people what they want.
Staying on the Cutting-Edge of Content Marketing
There you have it: the modern consumer wants authentic, interactive, mobile content with a human element. For now, it seems that my job as a marketer is safe from robotization. I have what these machines lack (and what consumers want): my humanity. Feels good, man.
Thankfully, instead of replacing us, modern technology has provided us with new avenues to engage our customers. And engage we will.
This is a golden age for content marketing. The possibilities are endless, and there has never been a better time to express your creativity as a marketer.
First, provide authenticity to your customers by interacting with them on live stream video platforms. Second, demonstrate your expertise through the versatile medium of podcasts. Third, connect with your audience through the timeless, treasured art of storytelling.