Keeping up with the latest 2022 content marketing trends is an ongoing process because the tools and technologies available change rapidly. This guide will help you stay current and act as a reference for your content marketing efforts.
Before you jump into the examples and ideas included here, let’s define what content marketing is and what it isn’t. This also requires us to briefly define digital marketing. Once we are settled on what content marketing is, we’ll show you some stellar examples of ways to adopt some great content marketing strategies into your brand’s awareness efforts.
What is Digital Marketing?
Think of digital marketing as the umbrella term that covers all types of online marketing. Content marketing is simply one of the forms of marketing that largely falls underneath this umbrella. Other examples of digital marketing (consider them cousins of content marketing) include affiliate marketing, email marketing, mobile marketing, search engine marketing, and social media marketing.
What is Content Marketing?
In short, content marketing focuses more on the experience of the audience than it does on promoting a specific product or service. The best content marketers know how to develop content that audiences want to consume. The promotion of a brand or service is a residual benefit from good content marketing—but not the prime purpose.
Those involved in content marketing can use multiple types of media to achieve their marketing efforts. This includes—but isn’t limited to—blogs, videos, social media posts, etc.
The most popular types of content marketing vary depending on the industry. For example, B2B organizations find success in their content marketing efforts that are tied to conferences and webinars, research reports, short articles, and eBooks. On the other hand, B2C marketers find more value in developing newsletters, videos, infographics, and blog posts.
There is no single magic method that will apply to all organizations. If you are just dipping your toes into the content marketing waters, your best bet is to try a little bit of everything and see what sticks with your intended audience—then enhance your focus on what works best.
2022 Content Marketing Trends to Know
1. Podcasting. Podcasting. Podcasting.
- Trend: More brands are jumping into the podcasting realm by either developing branded podcasts or partnering with existing podcasts to get their brands mentioned. More than 48 million podcast episodes now exist. These episodes stem from more than two million active shows. In the United States, 4 out of every 5 people are now familiar with podcasting.
- Example: Companies like T-Mobile and the genealogy company 23andMe both have partnered with iHeart Media in recent months to develop podcasts that align tightly with the brand’s core purposes and mentions. This leads to more mentions of the brands—but all mentions come in organic, natural ways rather than through traditional advertising.
- What You Can Do: Pretty much anybody can start a podcast now. Consider the audience you want to reach and consider the story you want your podcast to tell—then experiment. Given the continued increasing numbers associated with podcast consumption, there is likely a niche audience out there for your podcast.
2. Marketing with Maps
- Trend: Some groups are seeking ways to make their content marketing efforts have a more functional side rather than only a creative side. Marketing with maps can allow brands to do both.
- Example: Jack in the Box has picked up on McDonald’s broken ice cream machine problems and contracted to run banner ads throughout the month of March on McBroken.com — a site that helps customers know if their local McDonald’s ice cream machine is operational. Jack in the Box specifically did so to raise awareness of its Oreo cookie mint shake while McDonald’s actively promoted its shamrock shake.
- What You Can Do: Do you have a franchise element or a traveling element for your brand? Consider if there is some incentive for your customers to “check-in” while they do business with you.
3. Trademarking Names and Products in the Metaverse
A few examples of brands who have trademarked their names and products or have taken other significant measures in recent weeks include:
- Trend: A handful of forward-thinking brands have jumped into the metaverse with both feet to ensure they are able to protect their brand name and products there. Although the metaverse is a fluid place and is continually being developed, many brands who aren’t afraid to move into this new digital sphere are seeing early success.
- Example: Nike sued StockX, alleging the company is selling unauthorized images of their shoes. Walmart has filed 27 NFT-associated trademark requests since December 2021. L’Oréal has requested to trademark cosmetics that would be sold to virtual avatars.
- What You Can Do: The metaverse is an untapped market in many ways. Content marketing conferences are devoting more time to metaverse marketing. Learn from them and then experiment a little at a time.
4. Skyrocketing Personalization Expectations
- Trend: At “The Drum Predictions 2022 Festival,” the discussion of the evolution of B2B content marketing took center stage during a conversation featuring top B2B marketers. Anamika Gupta and Simon McAvoy discussed how customer expectations have skyrocketed as the workplace continues to transform.
- Example: Both speakers discussed how a more significant commitment to personalization is a “must-have” rather than a “nice to have.” Likewise, Gupta shared how the development of bite-sized content — rather than long white papers — has permeated the B2B world just as it has B2C efforts.
- What You Can Do: Pay attention to personalization opportunities you have in how you develop and distribute your content. Remember that just because your distribution of content used to work in one way, there is always room to improve.
5. Using Video Games to Reach Younger Audiences
- Trend: The Michelin Tire company hopes to provide teens with a well-rounded education about tires and driving safety by inserting digital billboards in ‘The Sims’ video game. Marketing in video games continues to grow and progress—especially thanks to platforms like YouTube and Twitch where gamers can spend significant amounts of time watching others play video games.
- Example: The company hopes its marketing efforts to encourage teens to order a free tire gauge on its microsite don’t come up flat. The first 10,000 teens who cruise their way over to the site and order a gauge have an opportunity to use their Michelin-branded tire gauge to win free prizes. Teens who use the gauge to measure their tire pressure will have a chance to win a video game console, for example, if the indicator stick that pops out is gold.
- What You Can Do: Even if you don’t have the budget to market in video games, if you are trying to reach teen audiences, marketing in any form in ways that are associated with video games is likely to lead to increased attention paid to your business or product.
6. Using Your Audience to Help Tell Your Story
- Trend: Brands have realized that they are less equipped to tell compelling stories in meaningful ways than their customers are. This is why brands are continuing to turn to user-generated content (UGC) marketing efforts to tout the company’s advantages.
- Example: As has been true in past years, Taco Bell created a “trailer” to promote the item. However, this year, the company put the storytelling in the hands of its consumers and turned to Twitter to ask a series of questions to help the Taco Bell creative team know what kind of story customers want the brand to create. Hundreds of responses to this effort using the #FriesChallenge hashtag helped Taco Bell involve their consumers in the storytelling as well as in the success of the product.
- What You Can Do: Ask your customers what they are passionate about related to your products or services. Then give them an opportunity to help tell their stories on social and other digital media channels.
7. Attending Conferences and Trade Shows in the Metaverse
- Trend: Companies and brands are developing full digital worlds for their conference attendees to interact, learn, and participate in. In many instances, these digital worlds are supplementing the physical trade shows—though it may come to fruition that metaverse trade shows could replace physical shows altogether.
- Example: As Samsung prepared for this year’s CES (Consumer Electronics Show), the brand was already aiming to showcase a virtual experience. However, once the omicron variant scaled back in-person attendance, even more, the company went all-in on Samsung 837X — a digital world that can be virtually explored. Samsung used this virtual world to showcase what happens when tech and culture collide. Samsung’s Connectivity Theater, Sustainability Forest, and Customization Stage were all included among metaverse trade show experiences for conference attendees.
- What You Can Do: Look for conferences that are promoting metaverse experiences and give some deference to attending those. You’ll learn more as you participate in conferences that are already embracing emerging technology.
8. More “Shopping” Pages Embedded in Social Apps
- Trend: In the early days of social media, brands were all about linking people to the brand’s website. However, social media platforms are now likely to give users a shopping experience fully embedded within the social media app in question.
- Example: As TikTok continues to gain steam as one of the world’s most popular platforms, the social media giant is also enhancing how brands and others can peddle their products on the site. One of the newest tools the company has introduced is “Instant Pages,” which are embedded within the TikTok platform and are said to load as much as 11 times faster than a normal mobile site. An “Instant Page” allows a brand to showcase videos, share the brand story, customize content for the target audience, and provide details about products and promotions.
- What You Can Do: Plan to do some A/B testing with shopping pages in social media apps and link social media users back to your website to consider which tool is most effective for your company.
9. The Next Evolution of Influencer Marketing
- Trend: Launching a presence on a new social media platform can be a big deal. Brands are often using partnerships, influencers, and branded hashtags to kickstart their new presence.
- Example: Coca-Cola U.S. recently started its efforts to connect with consumers on TikTok after establishing a new account. The company launched its presence by partnering with musical artist Khalid and sponsoring a hashtag challenge in which people use one of Khalid’s new songs to #SharetheMagic to show whatever their special talent is.
- What You Can Do: When you launch your presence on a new social media platform, make sure you first do your research about the audience and trends. Then, jump in feet first to use the platform the way it is intended to be used. You’ll have much more success—even if the content creation process is much different from prior efforts.
10. Live Social Media Shopping
- Trend: Twitter recently announced it now can feature a “Live Shopping” experience.
- Example: Twitter’s first major partner in the live shopping experience is an important one — Wal-Mart. Those who participate in the live shopping experience on Twitter can click on a “Shoppable” banner as well as a “Shop” tab on the dedicated page for the live event. Users also can participate in a chat during the Livestream that allows them to converse about the products they are viewing.
- What You Can Do: First consider which social media platform your audience is most active on—then identify an opportunity to have any sort of live experience. Once you are comfortable being “live” with your audience, then it will be time to try to add in additional elements—like selling products.
11. Building Emotional Connections with Retro Content
- Trend: It should be no surprise that pricking the heartstrings of a potential consumer is one good way to keep their interest, but one increasingly popular way to do so is to provide retro products or retro content to build these connections.
- Example: Recognizing that a solid portion of its customers still has a great affinity for the 1990s, TeePublic has developed a “Rewind to the Classic Designs” campaign that challenges ’90s lovers and T-shirt aficionados to search for any ’90s-related term on its website and find the perfect shirt.
- What You Can Do: Consider the trends, topics, and conversations that dominated the teenage or young adult years of your target audience and consider how you can include those elements in your 2022 content marketing efforts.
12. Using New Technologies to Insert Your Brand into Trends and Features
- Trend: Digital media platforms include tools and technologies that are designed to attract users. As an advocate for your brand, it behooves you to understand how your brand can be a part of this.
- Example: As part of its “Disney+ Day” digital festivities, Disney developed a partnership with TikTok, allowing the popular voice-to-text option to consist of a few new voices — including some popular Disney voices. Some of the new voices include a stormtrooper, Groot, Stitch, and Chewbacca. This is the second time TikTok has allowed a brand to add additional voices to the app, with the first being Ghostface from the Scream franchise around Halloween time.
- What You Can Do: You probably don’t have the budget that Disney has, but social media platforms offer much more cost-effective options, as well. For example, encouraging UGC with an “Add Yours” sticker on Instagram or developing and uploading your own filters are both interesting ways to add your own content to Instagram’s existing tools.
13. Letting Brand Ethics Mark Your Path
- Trend: In a time when brand advocacy plays a major role in customers’ decisions, your brand must have an ethical code behind which it stands.
- Example: L.L. Bean announced for Mental Health Month that it was taking a break from social media for the full month of May 2022. The marketing effort was a significant part of the company’s effort to encourage people to spend more time outside and to see the mental health benefits that come from being outdoors more often.
- What You Can Do: Consider what social or ethical issues are important to your brand. Then consider how you can incorporate some of these principles into your content calendar.
14. Creating Compelling Long(ish)-form Storytelling Videos
- Trend: Brands who see the most success with their digital media creation are looking beyond funnels and sales and are instead considering how to tell stories—particularly through video. This requires a company to think creatively to find ways to tell compelling stories and promote its brand.
- Example: Door Dash (yes, the same Door Dash who delivers your cheese fries and Oreo milkshakes) showcased a touching story from a mother and tied it into their Mother’s Day gift-giving ideas.
- What You Can Do: While your video ads might need to be more compact and direct, your organic videos should be emotional or compelling, longer, and shareable.
15. Taking Part in Niche Media Networks
- Trend: Organizations no longer need to rely on traditional media networks to facilitate their marketing efforts. In fact, some brands have taken it on themselves to develop their own media ecosphere in which they can create, publish, collaborate, and measure results without needing to rely on other groups.
- Example: Ulta Beauty has launched a new retail media network known as UB Media. The existence of this network now means that brands can develop and target ads on Ulta Beauty’s app, website, and other online channels. The app also provides shopper data to marketers to help them better understand what sort of ads to create to target identified audiences. The company’s 37 million active loyalty members accounted for more than 95 percent of sales last year.
- What You Can Do: Your company doesn’t have to be the one that develops the media network in order to benefit from it. Look for opportunities to collaborate with existing niche media networks.
16. Monetizing Social Media Presences
- Trend: Monetizing social media for creators isn’t a completely new trend in 2022, but new tactics are being developed to continue to build upon past successes. Likewise, because of past successes, new ideas and trends continue to emerge at a steady rate.
- Example: Twitter now allows brands to offer to paid subscribers (aka “Super Follows”) exclusive content through Twitter Spaces that other Twitter users—and other Spaces users—cannot access. This allows Twitter and brands to make money by using the app, presuming that the content is valuable enough for people to want to subscribe to it.
- What You Can Do: Don’t limit yourself to Twitter. Consider the platform that you see the most engagement on, then explore developing a “paid” service. Some market research ahead of time to determine if your audience would be willing to pay for your content could be valuable.
Final Thoughts on Content Marketing Trends
Now that we’ve laid out content marketing vs. digital marketing, you can create a plan and put it to action using a complementary approach to both. Remember: don’t focus narrowly on one approach to attracting, hooking, and sinking new customers. Your ability to keep up on content marketing trends in 2022 will dictate your effectiveness in reaching audiences in engaging ways this year—and beyond.