In this article, we will explore three key content marketing trends that will help improve content engagement rates in 2019. You should try to include elements of each one in every content piece you produce. By doing this, you can create a comprehensive content strategy that could make 2019 your best year yet.
When creating your content calendar for the coming year, think about ways you can work these themes into your content.
Theme 1: Authenticity
According to the Oxford dictionary, the definition of authenticity is, “[something that is] of undisputed origin and not a copy; genuine…based on facts; accurate or reliable”. With marketing, authentic content is original and factual.
Once you understand a little more about people’s views of online content, it’s easier to understand why authenticity is important to content marketing.
Mainstream use of the internet is relatively new. Since the introduction of Google in 1998, internet use has grown exponentially.
Easy access to the internet allowed brands to manufacture and spread content to millions of users at very little cost. It quickly became an important tool for advertisers and marketers. It let them reach large audiences at little cost.
Unfortunately, marketers abused the way search engines worked, e.g. using “black hat SEO techniques“ so they could manipulate online audiences by providing fake information that they didn’t necessarily want to see. This affected how internet users and internet search engines viewed online content. Negatively.
To tackle the problem, the Google algorithms now penalise these tactics. And internet users are wary of content, e.g. they are much more aware of fake news. A recent Ofcom study found that “Two-thirds of social media users are aware that only some of the information they see on social media is true” this means that many internet users are aware that online content can sometimes be false.” It’s easy to understand why people are less trusting of online content and why authenticity is so important.
To get people to engage with content, you have to show them you are genuine. To do this, you need to create content in a strong voice that is unique to your business and that reflects your brand honestly.
Examples of authentic content include interviews with staff, customer testimonials, and videos of your product in action.
Theme 2: Authority
The most relevant definition for “authority” from the content marketing perspective is, “The power to influence others, especially because of one’s commanding manner or one’s recognized knowledge about something.”
The influence you are seeking is over people’s engagement with your brand. To develop this, your customers first need to see the brand as a reliable source of knowledge. When people trust your content, influence naturally follows.
Working to ensure that your content is accurate is the first step. This means that you have to engage in certain types of research, e.g. fact-checking claims and debunking myths. Offer proof of the things you are saying and show that you are saying them in good faith.
Many organisations use techniques to strengthen authority in their content. They realise its importance in what some are calling a post-truth” era. They understand how important it is to be honest with people who are unresponsive to the bad practices of disinformation used by – amongst others – marketers.
For example, swathes of people are leaving Facebook because they don’t trust it. The social media giant knows that it has to do some heavy PR work to maintain its user base. One initiative recently rolled out is a fact-checking service for UK-based users. Their aim is to restore trust in Facebook.
Becoming an authority in your field is a balancing act. People are fed up with experts who patronize them and make claims that contradict people’s experiences. Your task is a difficult one and it involves becoming a friendly expert.
You must anticipate your customers’ content needs. You need to spend time actively listening and communicating with customers (check out this blog for ideas), asking for feedback and taking notes of problem areas.
Some examples of content that can help increase perceptions of authority include case studies, news reports from reliable sources, and providing multiple viewpoints when writing opinion pieces.
In short, to create an authoritative online presence, you must create content that is:
- Trustworthy and offers proof
- Relevant to your customers
Theme 3: Connection
The final trend ties it all together in a sense and must be present in your content. There’s an old adage in advertising, “People buy from People”. Now, there are many arguments around the specifics, i.e. which people buy from which people, but the saying is nonetheless true.
In the past, digital marketing, with its focus on techniques such as keyword stuffing, forgot the audience. They used tricks to get their content in front of people but ignored them once they arrived.
With updates in the search engine algorithms, such as measuring bounce rates, a lack of engagement can be punitive. To keep people reading, you have to understand their needs and you have to understand how to reach them. In other words, you need to communicate empathetically. It’s not about B2C or B2B, but human-to-human.
Content ideas that work are ones that we’ve been using for millennia, storytelling, community-focused topics, and honesty.
As marketers, you need to create a tight focus with your content, so that you talk to the right people in the right way. It’s not about “tricking” people into reading your content, but about creating value for your customers.
It’s much less about the hard sell and much more about taking a soft approach, being less forceful, and thereby selling to people who genuinely want and need your products. This is how you build trust, authority, and hopefully, a loyal customer base.