It's time to get serious about your content marketing efforts in 2019. Content is at the core of our digital and social, always on, always connected and always learning mobile world of communication.
As the technologies expand in capabilities, marketers become more savvy at how to use them, robots replace jobs, and it becomes even more competitive for brands trying to grab any second of our attention that they can.
Content is at the center of the connection between your brand and your customer - it's either going to open their minds and heart to pay attention and care that your brand exists, or it won't.
If you can connect with your audience in an authentic, human way, leveraging content to deepen relationships, vs only selling, your results will exponentially increase.
Here are seven key content marketing trends you can't ignore in 2019.
1. Content Marketing Plan - Bottom Line You Need One
In 2019 you must have a content marketing plan that helps you align your content to your business goals.
You need to find that sweet spot where you can ideate, create and publish content that both serves your audience incredible value in a personal and meaningful way, as well helps you achieve your goals. This is not going to come as easy as it may have in prior years.
Smart marketers are already working on their plans, and likely have a content calendar being populated with content to delight and engage their audiences.
The days of lazy marketers throwing social content spaghetti at the virtual walls of Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter are over and done. They will not win in 2019, period.
2. Original and Relevant Content – NOT Click Bait
Did you know that 78% of consumers say that personally relevant content increases their purchase intent.
Your content needs to be original and relevant. It's pretty simple. Create your own content. Use your own ideas. If you're short on ideas, hire a consultant, writer or agency to help you create them.
No more lazy marketers copying the hottest viral headlines and topics, and fooling themselves into thinking they're “making it their own” or adding their own personality - when in reality, they're almost word for word copying and pasting.
Consumers and decision makers are getting smart at avoiding clickbait, and they're seeking for real content that can help solve their problems quickly and easily. They want you to earn their trust.
Our greatest asset as humans is time. Respect the timeline and mindshare of your readers, viewers and listeners and they will love you for it, and they'll reward you with organic reach and amplification of your brand as they share your amazing content with their friends and colleagues.
Influencer marketing is not new, however it's very much misunderstood by marketers and business leaders.
You don't need to hire the Kardashians - instead, think about local and national leaders in your industry and niche. Look inside your own company, as your own employees, as well as current customers, may be your best brand advocates and evangelists.
Influencer marketing is not about finding a famous influencer and bribing them to post about you on their own platforms and social channels. Instead, think about how you can partner with them. Consider co-created content, and ask them to also post content on your platforms that you can then leverage and promote as evergreen content that lasts years, not minutes.
When tapping into the power of influencer marketing, don't fall prey to the lazy influencer agencies who only spam influencers with copy/paste spam virtual outreach, and wind up hurting your brand more than helping it.
I do a lot of work as a hired influencer for large and medium-sized brands, as well as help drive the strategy for our agency, Marketing Nutz, to help brands create and launch influencer marketing strategies and programs.
I know, both from being an influencer myself as well as helping companies build programs, that relationships are the key to success. Don't just think short term, “how can I make this tweet or video go viral?” Instead, consider “how can I build a relationship that we both win and also serve our audience value at the same time?”
Micro-influencer marketing can be a game changer for businesses of all sizes, and it's often the fastest way to brand awareness, amplification and a true connection with your target audience.
Choosing the right influencers is key to success, as well as a well thought out program to maintain relationships, set goals and measure results. It's not as easy as throwing a few bucks at an influencer and expecting overnight success. Be ready to work.
4. Voice Control and Search
Instead of planning and optimizing your keywords for someone typing them into a device, and thinking “how will my target customer type in a search into Google or Facebook?” Marketers also need to be considering, “how will my customer ask a question with their voice into their smartphone or Amazon's Echo?
Big changes are coming with search, and marketers simply cannot ignore the power of voice search. At least some portion of your content needs to answer quick questions with quick answers if you want your content to show up in search in the future. Marketers have to be thinking about the words people say, not just what they're likely to type via keyboard.
Also, mobile-responsive and mobile-optimized websites remain incredibly important, as most of these voice activated searches are done on a mobile device. Google prioritizes mobile-optimized sites in search results.
As people invest more in voice controlled devices, these trends will increase. This is definitely an area where savvy content marketers should be watching closely.
5. Test New Formats Such as Video, Audio and Short Stories
If you haven't already started using video in your marketing, 2019 is the time to start? Haven't started a podcast? Haven't tested using a bot to provide better customer service? Maybe 2019 is the year you do these things also.
The secret to success in 2019 is going to be having the guts to try new things without becoming immediately addicted. Try new formats and mediums, but also be willing to ditch them fast if they are not working.
If you've been doing mostly long-form content, it could be beneficial to test out shorter, bite-size formats, like stories on Instagram and Facebook. If you've primarily focused on short format video and content, try testing longer form content that can rank well in search, increase traffic and offer SEO benefits.
Just as I mentioned in trend #2 above, original and relevant content is key to success. Don't “do video” just to do it, don't do a podcast just because everyone tells you to do a podcast.
Instead, take the time to plan out a solid content strategy that attracts your ideal customers, serves your current audience, and works towards your broader goals. If video is what'll help you do it, then go for video.
Have fun with formats that you maybe haven't as used so deeply in the past, and don't get stuck on the shiny object, thinking “it has to be live” or “it has to be fancy.” The only thing that really matters is that it has to provide value to your audience.
6. Brand Storytelling
Learning how to leverage brand storytelling is a skill not all marketers have mastered. Many think it just means they are entitled to talk about themselves more or that they need to get other people to talk about them more. Wrong.
Brand storytelling goes much deeper into who you are, and why you're doing what you're doing. Brand storytelling is more about the experience you create, and how you engage your customers, as opposed to bragging about yourself. Big difference.
What's the story behind your brand and success? What are the hard roads you've traveled to get to where you are? How did those bumpy roads then create amazing experiences for your clients, and why?
It takes around seven brand touches for someone to remember you and your brand. Maximize every touchpoint to create experiences that matter, and are based on an intent to truly shape the people and businesses your organization reaches.
7. Data Driven Decisions Cure Social Shiny Object Syndrome
Your content marketing strategy, plan and tactics must be prioritized and based on data-driven decisions. This is the only way you can distance yourself from the chasing social and digital shiny object syndrome.
You don't need to be the first marketer on every social network that launches. You don't need to be the best on every social network either.
Instead, you should focus on being the best at serving your customers - but you won't know if you're good at serving them or what content is helping you do that if you don't become addicted to the data.
When you develop a plan that's based on data and the needs of your customers, this also frees up time for you to be more agile. Being agile then empowers you to more easily test new things, without having to dive head-first into every new technology you read about on Facebook.
Trust me, as the new year approaches, there will be many posts like this one touting the next new social media and technology shiny object. Success is not going to come by being the fastest at chasing them - instead, choose the right ones that'll help you win.
If you want a winning content strategy in 2019, you must take time to plan for it, and then be willing to do the work to make it a reality.
A version of this post was first published on Pam Moore's blog.