View the full Social Media Trends 2014 SlideShare summary here.
Social Media Trends 2014 (Part Seven): Content Marketing gets the Buzz Phrase Treatment
Welcome to the halfway point of the Kamber Social Media Trends 2014 series.
In part seven (of 14) we’re going to look at the discipline everyone has started to latch onto in 2013 and why it will completely dominate 2014.
That discipline is content marketing and it will (justifiably) be the buzz phrase of the next 12 months.
It is also likely (and probable) that most marketing service providers will start offering or expanding this service in response to this trend (in a similar fashion to the response we saw when social media hit the scene).
One of the big questions we’ll explore is why it will be difficult to ‘tack on’ content marketing to existing services given the unique nature of the craft.
It isn’t just matter of ‘creating good content’, it is a systematic approach to planning, producing, publishing and promoting content that services a need.
Now that the scene has been set, let’s pull the curtain back and break it all down.
Trend Seven: Content Marketing as a Buzz Phrase and the Challenges Associated with Doing it Right
Before we wax lyrical about this trend, we do want to point out that as a specialist Content Marketing Agency you might think we have an agenda. We don’t, although we believe in it very strongly.
Our aim is to be as unbiased as possible to paint a balanced picture.
How did we get here?
As with any trend, it is important to get an understanding of the past before we can look to the future.
Put simply, the explosion of social media has created a world where brands and businesses can be less reliant on paid and ‘traditional earned’ media to reach relevant audiences.
The chart below attempts to capture the era we now operate in:
So, without social media, we never had the delivery and sharing mechanisms required to make owned content succeed.
But, now we do and it has created a very real opportunity for brands and business to become bona fide publishers.
What does content marketing really mean?
The definition is actually quite literal.
It is the production of content that adds value to the audience it is intended for.
Consistently serving up content of this nature isn’t dissimilar to the aim of traditional advertising which, through frequency, helps make a brand or business top of mind.
However, content marketing activity doesn’t attempt to sell (at all).
Instead it aims to increase goodwill and advocacy through the delivery of relevant content which is usually useful by nature.
For a more detailed definition, visit our detailed overview here.
What is the difference between content marketing and branded content (another recent buzz phrase)?
Latching on to content marketing is futile without a content strategy.
A solid content strategy identifies a handful of topics a brand or business has the authority and permission to talk about.
It also has a very specific set of objectives, ranging from driving people to a specific URL or increasing discovery via search engines.
The philosophy of a content marketer is also very specific.
In most cases, content strategists /marketers identify a need among its target audience and address that need through the development of the right content.
This is often the result of research and analysis that almost spells out the content solution. For example, a DIY retailer might create a series of ‘how to’ videos to help existing and prospective customers complete their projects in a more efficient way.
Branded content is a little different.
In theory, it should be a product of the over-arching content strategy (but it often isn’t).
It is normally (but not exclusively) entertaining in nature and may be higher in production values.
The chart below provides a basic (and literal) overview of the differences between content marketing as a discipline and branded content as a tactic.
It is definitely a case of blurred lines, but hopefully this chart provides some context.
Why is 2014 the year that content marketing will dominate the industry?
As touched on earlier in this piece, social media has been an enabler, fueling the brand-to-audience opportunity.
But getting traction via social media has become increasing difficult as it has become more competitive.
Simply curating 3rd party content does not have the cut-through it once had.
We’re also experiencing unprecedented changes in the way the major internet players package up their products.
The recent algorithm changes from Google are testament to this new world.
More than ever before, quality content, created by quality content creators, will get the best rewards in relation to search rankings.
Even Facebook has made changes to the news feed algorithm to encourage better quality content.
In short, the two worlds, social media and content are morphing together and delivering compelling content now carries more influence than simply providing a good social media experience.
Why will everyone say they are content marketers in 2014?
It will be very similar to the social media phenomenon of 2009/2010 when the accessibility of social media, and its relative newness, invited anyone to become an ‘expert’.
Content marketing is likely to experience a similar trend given the relative simplicity involved in being a self-publisher.
As it becomes an even hotter topic, look out for traditional agencies to appoint a flurry of content marketing directors and content strategists.
Why can’t everyone be an expert?
In part four of the Kamber Social Media Trends 2014 series we looked at the likely shortage of content-savvy digital talent in 2014.
That post included a chart which attempted to explain the skill set of a content marketing director / content strategist.
A good content marketing set up will then have specialists in each of these areas and someone overseeing each sub-discipline.
There just aren’t many people out there with experience in each of these areas.
What (on earth!!) does it all mean?
The content marketing obsession has arrived.
It is closely linked to our other recent obsession, social media.
Content marketing is likely to be an effective method of marketing over the next few years provided it is carried out correctly.
But, it could change just as quickly.
We operate in an era that evolves by the hour.
There are only so many ‘how to’ pieces of content.
There are only so many ‘top 10 lists’.
The most effective content marketing strategies will be the ones that innovate in line with the ever-evolving digital landscape.
It’ll be very interesting to watch, especially how many references to content marketing are made at conferences all over the world next year.
The next part of our Social Media Trends 2014 series will look at a trend linked to the evolution of social media and content matrketing: The re-emergence of the user-generated content contest.
A bit later in the series we’ll explore the impact the (official) content marketing explosion is having on internal marketing and communications teams, especially in relation to the convergence of digital, social media and content.
Kamber is a specialist content marketing and social media agency based in Australia.
We help brands and businesses plan, produce, publish and promote digital content that people crave.