Over the last decade, content marketing is playing a major- perhaps key role- for companies to reach customers and business associates. Advances in technology, imitating content models, making bloated claims or floating fake information as well as other evils continue to plague this otherwise great marketing too.

The year 2018 may see some drastic changes in the way content marketing operates. Hence, it is vital to get some insights into expected developments to enable content marketers to develop a strong strategy for 2018.

Understanding Content Marketing

New York-based Content Marketing Institute explains the concept as:

“Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”

In other words, it means providing customer-friendly, accurate content through various Internet-based platforms that translate into purchases and profits for your company.

Companies small and large located across the world deploy content marketing as an effective tool to keep existing and prospective customers engaged or interested in their products and services.

A content marketing strategy for 2018 needs to differ from the ones your company had previously.

There are some important indicators that may assist you to draw an excellent content marketing strategy for the year 2018.

1). Upgrade Facebook Content

Facebook remains by far the most popular social media platform for content marketing. The number of ‘Likes’ you get on Facebook decides how many people will follow your company’s content.

Despite, few bother to read content since they are busy browsing posts by relatives and friends or updating own ‘Status’.

To attract followers, your content has to be very interesting and relevant to the target audience.

By mid-2017, Facebook had approximately 2.07 billion Monthly Active Users (MAUs). According to studies, some 76 percent of all females in the world and 66 percent of the world’s male population use Facebook. These figures do not mean you target female audience or male.

Since the divide is insignificant, your content should be suitable for both genders.

Base your content marketing strategy on providing superior content including articles, pictures, and videos.

Preferably, update the content daily or, at very frequent intervals to keep followers engaged. Using words, pictures and audios that grab attention instantly is a great way to upgrade Facebook content.

2). Upping the mobile ante

Germany based statistics provider, Statista has some interesting figures: “The number of smartphone users is forecast to grow from 2.1 billion in 2016 to around 2.5 billion in 2019, with smartphone penetration rates increasing as well. Just over 36 percent of the world’s population is projected to use a smartphone by 2018, up from about 10 percent in 2011.

For the American market, Statista projects: “the US is also an important market for the smartphone industry, with around 223 million smartphone users in 2017. By 2019, the number of smartphone users in the U.S. is expected to increase to 247.5 million.”

Mobile internet usage has worked its way into the daily life of smartphone and tablet users, enabling consumers to access and share information on the go. Mobile internet shows promising projections for the next future, as global mobile data traffic is expected to increase nearly a sevenfold between 2016 and 2021.

The Americans and Europe have the highest mobile broadband subscription penetration rate, around 78.2 percent, and 76.6 percent respectively. The global average stood at nearly 50 percent in 2016, says Statista.

With nearly 80 percent Americans accessing content on smartphones, you need to up your ante by providing excellent content on mobile devices in 2018. This can be done through new apps available.

3). Instant Messaging

WhatsApp has whopping1.3 billion MAUs. Trailing closely is Facebook Messenger with 1.2 billion MAUs. Twitter also remains the most popular online content sharing and social networking platform with some 330 MAUs. These figures are sufficient for every small and large business or corporation to utilize the three instant messaging platforms for content marketing.

These platforms are generally accessed by people on move, on smartphones. They provide one inherent advantage over Facebook. Messages sent on WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Twitter remain on their apps on smartphones.

They clearly indicate there are unread messages. This tempts users to open the message and read at least a part of the content. In stark contrast, Facebook posts get buried under millions of others posted almost every second.

Include content marketing through WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger as well as Twitter in your strategy for 2018. As indicated by the statistics above, smartphone usage is set to boom. Your company can benefit from this anticipated growth by content marketing over these three mobile platforms.

4). Pictures and Videos

By September 2017, Instagram, the popular picture and video sharing social network had crossed the 800 million MAU mark. In the US market, Pinterest reaches out to over 70 percent of its nearly 10 to 12 million MAUs, indicates statistics from February 2017.

However, YouTube has the topmost reach on Planet Earth with some 1.3 billion viewers watching videos on this free platform. YouTube, Pinterest and Instagram are also accessed on mobiles.

The high usage of these audio and video sharing platforms opens up great vistas for content marketing. For a successful content marketing strategy for 2018, it is highly recommended that your company should utilize these apps and websites. Starting a YouTube channel is free and so are posting videos and pictures on Instagram and Pinterest.

Interesting commercials that engage clients and business associates posted over YouTube, Instagram and Pinterest will propel your content marketing strategy further by covering newer audiences. Success on these platforms depends upon personalized content that viewers can identify with.

5). Blogs

Include a blog on your company website to provide reviews of products and services offered. Invite comments and suggestions from your existing or would-be clients as well as business associates. Alternatively, you can sponsor excellent content on websites of renowned bloggers.

Trends indicate that blogs are nowadays more preferred over traditional media such as newspapers, radio, and TV. The good news is, they cost a fraction of conventional advertising.

Since blogs are written in an informal manner, content writers in your company or those outsourced can write very informative articles. Such informative content can include actual user reviews and experiences, subtle comparison with offerings of competitors and unique selling points of your products or services.

Blogs are excellent if used judiciously and do not exaggerate claims. In most countries, blogs are viewed as informal media and an option to conventional press. However, false claims, irrelevant content and boring articles can prove counterproductive.

6). Brand Advocacy

Over the last couple of years, brand advocacy using content has become a contentious issue of sorts. While some companies believe brand advocates are irrelevant and do not create a positive impact, others unflinchingly endorse the system.

Brand advocacy generally involves a person or organization proliferating information about a company, product or service by word of mouth. They facilitate such publicity to spread and sometimes, go viral.

Hiring or retaining brand advocates is something you should include in your content marketing strategy for the year 2018. For higher efficacy, brand advocacy should be backed by excellent content provided through social media, instant messaging and blogs.

Brand advocacy has some inherent disadvantages:

It makes your content marketing seem redundant. Further, several individuals and business associates tend to view brand advocates with suspicion, since they know you are paying for the promotion of your company.

Regardless, brand advocacy works when synergized with excellent content.

7). Listening to Customers

For every content marketing strategy to succeed, listening to customers, stakeholders and business associates hold a vital key. While personalizing your content, it is equally important to seek feedback from customers about what information they would love to see in your content. Include customer feedback as one of the main functions of your content marketing strategy for 2018.

Often, customers come up with excellent suggestions and solutions required to improve or enhance your product and service offerings. Involving them in creating great content makes these customers and associates identify with your company.

The sense of belonging and consequent goodwill helps your content reach even further, as these customers will help the proliferation of articles, pictures, and videos which they helped create.

Content that seeks customer interaction always gets that extra mileage, vital for your strategy to succeed. However, make room also for an honest but constructive criticism. This indicates your company is willing to adapt to customer demands.

Conclusion

Content marketing experts will witness several new trends in 2018 and coming years. Their predictions are based  on the fact that e-commerce and online retailing will burgeon over the next couple of years.

Most predictions for ecommerce and content marketing are expected to be revised for 2020 and later years, due to changes in technology and dissolution of geographical borders due to global trade.

While you can draw a great content marketing strategy for your employer or business, professional strategists are also available to develop one that suits your requirements.

The year 2018 is expected to throw up some unexpected challenges for content marketing that may revolutionize this field for the next few years.