Your success as a freelancer or as a content marketer depends in many ways on your ability to stay informed about the most current content marketing trends and examples. Of course, your greatest challenge might be the lack of time you have to devote to keeping up on the news.
To stay up to date, you need look no further than this curated monthly update to learn about the news and topics that will be most valuable for you. A quick glance at our roundup once a month will give you a solid foundation to keep you in the know for the coming days and weeks ahead, without getting lost in the noise.
Recent content marketing trends:
1. Virtual Instagram influencers raise ethical questions about what is “real” in advertising.
Anyone who scrolls through Instagram with any regularity already knows that some things just look a little too good to be true. Perfect shots on the beach, cozy evenings at home, and scenic shots in the outdoors are not only common — but expected.
Despite the expectation that Instagram portrays an enhanced reality, some solace can be found in knowing the posts are still based in reality. However, the current (and growing) trend of utilizing virtual Instagram influencers to promote products and initiatives calls this into question as well.
Perhaps most prominent among these virtual influencers is Lil Miquela, who has promoted everything from Calvin Klein to Black Lives Matter to its 1.6 million Instagram followers. The use of these influencers presents difficult conversations about body image, authenticity, and brand responsibility. (6/3/19)
2. Gatorade’s newest AR experiment is an extension of its “video everywhere” strategy.
Gatorade has not shied away from utilizing new technologies — including augmented reality — in its marketing efforts. The company’s latest augmented reality venture — a Snapchat lens — focuses on allowing users to use their rear-facing camera to become part of a world where the sole focus is a soccer ball.
Gatorade representative Jill Abbott says this new venture is simply a part of Gatorade’s “video everywhere” strategy — which calls for the brand to think less about premium, online, and linear videos and instead consider how its videos can be wherever its athlete audience is. (6/17/19)
3. Facebook YouTube-ifies its video delivery algorithm.
Forget (almost) everything you know about what makes a good video on Facebook, because the social behemoth has announced that it is flipping the script on how it prioritizes delivering videos to users. Going forward, if you want to increase the likelihood that the videos your brand creates are delivered to users on Facebook, focus on the following three items:
- Loyalty and intent: Facebook will make videos more prominent in news feeds when users seek them out and return to them over time.
- Viewing duration: Users should stay with your videos for at least one minute. Even better, Facebook will do more to prioritize your video if it is at least three minutes long.
- Originality: Focus less on repurposing videos and instead focus on creating something specific for Facebook if you want your videos to rank.
4. Bleacher Report utilizes Instagram Stories to get users to download flagship app.
Bleacher Report (a sports highlight and entertainment company with 10 million Instagram followers) has made it easier for its users to share its content on their own Instagram stories. Each time a user shares content from the app in his or her own Instagram story, those who come across the story can tap on the story to download the Bleacher Report app as well. By giving app users the ability to share content that also promotes the app, the company has achieved its prime goal — which is to increase the number of downloads of its app. (5/8/19)
5. Chatbot surveys on Wi-Fi sign-in pages may be the newest marketing tactic.
As location-based marketing continues to be a major opportunity for small, medium-sized, and large businesses, new tactics will continue to arise. One of the newest opportunities was introduced to U.S. businesses in May when Japanese artificial intelligence company Bespoke announce the introduction of ChatConnect in the United States.
ChatConnect allows organizations who offer Wi-Fi to its patrons to also ask the same patrons survey questions as part of the sign-in process. So, in theory, if your organization wants to get quick feedback about their experience from customers or potential customers who are on-site, ChatConnect — or other similar tools — can facilitate this. (5/7/19)
6. Facebook’s impending “Clear History” tool to cause social marketers to rethink targeting.
Ever since the Cambridge Analytica fiasco of 2018, Facebook has been touting improvements —including a more private, personal experience for users. One huge development that will cause marketers to seriously consider their advertising and targeting tactics is the “Clear History” tool —which Facebook warned marketers is coming very soon.
Once the tool is rolled out, users who choose to disconnect their off-Facebook activity from their user profiles will no longer be able to have their off-Facebook data made available for ad targeting. In a blog post, Facebook told advertisers that “businesses should keep [not being able to utilize off-Facebook data] in mind when developing strategies for these kinds of campaigns in the second half of the year and beyond.” (5/14/19)
7. Taco Bell pushes trend of sponsoring Instagram Stories into new territory.
Though you are likely actively considering the most effective content to publish to your organization’s own Instagram Story, you may want to take a cue from Taco Bell and House of Highlights and also consider other ways to effectively utilize Instagram Stories through partnerships.
As of a few weeks ago — and continuing for several weeks into the summer — Taco Bell will be sponsoring House of Highlights Instagram Stories on Thursday nights. These stories will continue to feature content the House of Highlights audience already engages with, as well as additional Taco Bell-branded contests and other interactive elements. Although other large brands — like Nike, Yahoo, and Pizza Hut — have sponsored individual stories for House of Highlights, Taco Bell is the first to agree to do it on a consistent basis. (4/25/19)
8. NL marketing teams add excitement to yearly schedule release.
Aside from a few fans who love and die by their favorite team’s every move, until recently the release of the upcoming season’s schedules typically hasn’t warranted more than a quick review by those who want to make sure they get tickets for a rivalry game or find out when their favorite player comes to town.
However, in recent years, NFL teams have started to embrace schedule release day as an opportunity to showcase their creativity and — supposedly — help more people be excited about purchasing tickets and gear, and otherwise supporting the team.
One of the best schedule releases this year came from the Carolina Panthers, whose schedule incorporates throwbacks to classic video games like Sonic the Hedgehog, NBA Jam, and Mortal Kombat, among others. The Panthers’ video tweet that includes its schedule has been viewed more than two million times.
Though your marketing budget may not be NFL-sized, you still can think through new and creative ways to communicate consistent updates and messages for your organization that might be “mundane.” (4/17/19)
9. Adidas combines iOS AirDrop, celebrity influencer in experiential marketing tactic.
We’ve told you before about iOS Airdrop marketing efforts that have been designed to delight and surprise consumers within a close proximity. Adidas has become the newest brand to employ AirDrop marketing in an effort to market its products.
Adidas partnered with actor/rapper Donald Glover at Coachella to release the shoes that the company and the artist created together. As part of the promotion of the new shoes, Glover used AirDrop to send a photo of the shoes to random concert-goers. Those who accepted the photo were given the opportunity to receive a free pair of shoes — if they agreed to wear the shoes all weekend and attend Glover’s show. (4/15/19)
10. Google hopes Maps finds its way to profitability.
Since Google Maps launched 14 years ago, it has largely been utilized as a free platform. However, in recent months Google has made some significant adjustments that could turn Maps into another major ad platform for the search behemoth.
Experts agree that the opportunity to sponsor content on Maps has long been in place, but Google has been in no rush to monetize. But based on some recent movement from the company, this looks to be changing. For example, for the last two years Google has allowed businesses to buy “promoted pins” to allow businesses to showcase themselves on maps.
Additionally, Google business chief Philipp Schindler recently told Morgan Stanley analyst Brian Nowak that Google will soon begin to generate Maps recommendations in “privacy-sensitive, opt-in ways.” This could include relevant ads appearing directly on Maps in obvious — but not overwhelming — ways. (4/10/19)
11. AI calls for appointment-based businesses may be the future.
Google Duplex — an artificial intelligence-powered tool that calls businesses on behalf of individuals to set up reservations or appointments — will soon be available for Google Pixel users in 43 states and for Android and iOS users in coming weeks. Privacy laws are currently keeping Duplex from being operational in seven states.
A user of Duplex will be able to direct Google to make a reservation or set an appointment through a phone call that sounds remarkably similar to a human voice. The AI service is fully capable of carrying on an appointment-based conversation and even includes “ums” and voice inflection to make it sound more human.
Google has said it developed the feature upon learning that 60 percent of small businesses who are appointment or reservation-based don’t allow customers to book with any sort of digital booking system. (3/6/19)
12. Betabrand uses ‘Adception’ to turn commenters into buyers.
Betabrand — a women’s and men’s clothing seller — has developed a strategy that allows social media comments on ads to become one of its top methods for engaging potential buyers. In a process that social media coordinator Emilia Hildreth calls “adception,” the company closely watches the Facebook comments that get the most likes and replies on the company’s Facebook ads and then capitalizes on them.
When company social media representatives notice a user comment has garnered a lot of likes or comments, the company quickly creates a plan to get involved in the conversation by publishing witty, entertaining, and useful information relevant to the conversation. These brand comments are intended to drive to the website all those who are following the conversation, with the ultimate goal of completing a sale.
Betabrand spends millions of dollars on its social media ads and engagement each year, but even much smaller businesses can follow this same principle to engage potential customers. Learn more about how transparency on social media can be good for your business. (3/20/19)
13. Are you using any of 2019’s top email design trends?
EmailMonks has developed a list of the top eight email design trends for 2019. These top trends relate to animation, gamification, typography, dynamic content, and more. A few of these trends include:
- Intelligent design—This includes surveys and other engaging elements embedded in the body of emails. This makes it easier for people to access and engage with emails.
- AMP in emails—Google AMP (Accelerate Mobile Pages) emails allow marketers to change the content of an email in real time.
- Live social feeds—If you want to point people to your social channels from an email, including live social feeds is one way to do it. These emails dynamically pull in your brand’s most current social posts.
14. Moderation matters more and more.
In recent weeks, news about unchecked predatory comments on videos featuring young children has caused concern among parents, viewers, content creators and advertisers. In short, everybody is concerned — and for good reason.
After a vlogger detailed how a few bad actors were using YouTube as a sort of “soft-core pedophilia ring,” advertisers were quick to jump off YouTube until the video giant made changes. Among others, a couple of the big advertisers who pulled ads from YouTube include Walt Disney Co. and Nestle SA.
YouTube has been quick to attempt to resolve the issue. In a recent blog post, the company detailed that it has disabled comments on most videos featuring children. Some creators will continue to be able to keep comments enabled if they prove to YouTube they can effectively moderate the comments on their videos.
In the blog post, YouTube said the following:
“No form of content that endangers minors is acceptable on YouTube, which is why we have terminated certain channels that attempt to endanger children in any way. We will continue to take action when creators violate our policies in ways that blatantly harm the broader user and creator community.” (2/28/19)
15. Marketers are adjusting strategies to focus on stories.
The “story” format for social media posts first burst into the scene with Snapchat, but it didn’t take long for others (such as Instagram, Facebook, and WhatsApp) to jump on board. Since 2016, use of stories has increased by 987 percent. In a piece for Adweek, Anthony Cospito details three reasons why.
Engagement: Since 2016, stories have seen a rate of increase in engagement that is 15 times higher than the engagement increase in social feeds.
Visibility: Brands, news outlets, sports teams and others are promoting their stories in multiple ways, which leads to an increase in visibility of stories inside and outside social apps.
Insights: Data about completion rates, poll responses, and other story-specific data has proven to be valuable information for marketers.
(2/28/19)Since 2016, stories have seen a rate of increase in engagement that is 15 times higher than the engagement increase in social feeds. | #SocialMedia #ContentMarketing Click To Tweet
16. Demand for responsive display ads triggers more features.
Ever since Google made responsive display ads its default ad type last year, the company has been working on ways to help content marketers better utilize these ads. Google announced in a recent blog post three new features to assist marketers in their use of responsive display ads, including:
Video Assets: Advertisers can choose existing content from their YouTube pages to use in these ads.
Combinations report: The combinations report allows marketers to better understand how different combinations of creative content perform.
Expanded ad strength scorecard: This scorecard details what you need to do to make your responsive ad even more effective.
17. Vertical video is changing content marketing, whether we like it or not.
Data suggests that users hold their phones vertically 94 percent of the time, so it stands to reason that the easiest way to reach audiences is to publish vertical videos. Research suggests that vertical videos are gaining more popularity in recent years because more people are viewing videos on their mobile devices than ever before.
Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat are three prime platforms that use vertical video extensively. Experts say that creators who want to capitalize on vertical video should learn to create videos top down instead of left to right.
More Notable Trends
Google introduces new era of augmented reality search results. The search giant has already partnered with groups like NASA, New Balance, Samsung, Target, Visible Body, Volvo, and Wayfair to develop AR content that will be presented in a user’s search experience. (5/7/19)
Walmart and Google take voice-shopping mainstream. Google Assistant users can now add groceries to their digital Walmart carts simply through using their voice. Though Walmart isn’t the first to offer this service, its status as a major retailer could lend credence to more brands following suit. Learn more about content marketing with smart speakers. (4/2/19)
Controversial photo-editing practice presents ethical dilemma in real estate marketing. Online real estate listings are increasingly including edited photos that make grass look greener, carpets look newer, and rooms look bigger. Companies are offering their services to enhance listing photos for a minimal cost. (3/5/19)