Let’s face it. Relying on evergreen content to drive engagement is no longer an effective strategy for marketers or brands. Consumers today expect content that’s live, on-demand and hyper-relevant.
The best brands and marketers today are platform agnostic and focused on delivering the best experience in the moment with content that’s compelling, concise and addictive. With this backdrop in mind, let’s take a look at the top content marketing trends emerging this year:
1. Vertically-Shot Video on The Rise
Consumers are increasingly engaging with brands via live content and stories on Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, making mobile video content more important than ever. In fact, 85% of digital marketers plan to increase their investment in mobile video this year, up 10 percent from last year, according to a recent study. Vertical video also continues to grow, generating stronger engagement and watch times on Instagram and Snapchat than traditional horizontal formats. In line with this, we continue to see major brands across categories invest in vertical video as the format of choice for consumers.
2. Storytelling in Micro Moments
To stand out in a sea of million stories, brands not only need to produce better content, but also tell stories in shorter increments and bite-sized videos. As Gary Vaynerchuk puts it, brands today have to “storytell in micro moments because it’s apparent that we’re living in an ADD culture – where everybody is short on the only commodity that matters in this life – our TIME.”
People love brands that aren’t afraid to let you in. That’s why the most popular videos on Snapchat and Instagram Stories have a more edgy, intimate feel. They capture human experience. T-Mobile CEO John Legere’s Slow Cooker Sunday is a great example. This year, we’ll continue to see investment by brands in live, ephemeral and localized content for Snapchat and Instagram Stories.
3. Instant Gratification On Demand
Consumer expectations are shifting dramatically as the always-on, always-connected nature of our mobile device shapes the way we live. Google Marketing VP Lisa Gevelber points out “people are searching at the exact moment they need something, and looking for places that can meet their immediate need”. As an example, Google has seen searches for places that are “Open Now,” triple in the last two years. We’re seeing the same trend apply when it comes to content. People are constantly consuming and sharing hyper-relevant content in the moment.
The shift toward instant gratification, with people consuming content in shorter bursts (often 6 seconds or less), creates both opportunity and obstacles for brands. The smartest brands today are going all-in on vertical, visual storytelling to deliver more bite-sized content, and the results are paying off.
4. New Opportunities with Live UGC
The emergence of live story content on Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook has created a wave of visual user generated content (UGC) like nothing we’ve seen before. According to a recent Consumer Trust Survey, 76% of consumers find content posted by other consumers to be more honest than brand content. Adding the live element to UGC reiterates this honesty and brand authenticity, driving an increase in brand engagement and loyalty. Brands are recognizing this and leveraging live UGC creatively to engage their customers.
5. Broader Distribution and Sharing of Content Beyond the App
Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and others continue to innovate, encouraging users to share and discover live content. Our company, Tagboard, is based on the idea of allowing fans to share their content beyond the app itself, and clearly the social networks see users heading in the same direction.
Earlier this year, Snapchat also launched an update for Stories that allows anyone – not just Snapchat users – to see snaps from celebrities, media partners and others. By bringing its maps feature to the web, Snap is giving news organizations the opportunity to bring public Snapchat Stories to its local news programs. A great example is TEGNA, which owns TV broadcast stations in 39 markets around the U.S., which is partnering with Snap and Tagboard to distribute Snapchat content outside of the messaging app.
6. New Emerging Features from Geofilters to Live Polling
New features like geofilters and polls continue to emerge – opening up more ways for brands to engage fans. Earlier this Fall, interactive poll stickers launched on both Snapchat and Instagram Stories. Now, just like adding a location sticker, you can add a brief poll on top of your Stories to ask a question and see live results from your followers. This interactivity is incredibly valuable for brands as fans are not only watching and engaging with their stories, but also interacting directly through geostickers, polls and localized content. The next evolution of course is augmented reality…
7. Augmented Reality Becoming a Mainstream Tool
Last Fall, Facebook debuted its Augmented Reality Camera Effects platform and AR Studio tool as the company works to close the gap with Snapchat, which was the first to launch AR tools for developers. Both Snapchat’s World Lenses and Facebook’s World Effects allow brands to build and share amazing AR experiences – augment the story with 3D objects such as a heart floating above someone’s head, an arrow pointing to an important story element, or an animated sticker to celebrate an awesome moment.
8. Geo-located Video Discovery and Sharing
As a long-time partner of Snapchat, we’ve worked with dozens of professional and college teams across sports to share live Snapchat content on the giant video displays in stadiums. You probably saw a recent example of this if you went to this year’s college playoff games. The power of Snapchat’s “Snap Maps” is undeniable. You share your location for snaps, which then appears to friends on a map and updates when you open the app again.
As we move through 2018, location will play a bigger role in how people discover video at events. Already we’re seeing Facebook Messenger build on its Live Location feature, while YouTube recently launched Director Mix, allowing brands to deliver thousands of localized videos in one campaign using Google Maps data. With stronger location and metadata, marketers now have information to deliver content that is much more relevant. For example, if a potential customer is searching for a new snowboard, the store can show a snowboard-related video shot recently in that person’s skiing area.
Why This All Matters
Ultimately, successful storytelling and content starts with being human and connecting – having a two-way conversation. Live content, especially when it’s hyper-relevant and local, provides brands an incredible opportunity to create a fast track memory shortcut, building real relationships with consumers and brand affinity with people directly in their community.