Rule 2022 With These 5 Digital Content Marketing Trends
As they have for years, audience and consumer preferences continue to evolve. And these days, they are evolving in the direction of giving each individual the content he or she wants and that reflects the truest, best version of the brand. With that in mind, experienced content marketers — especially those who have digital capabilities in their toolkit — approach new year strategy-building by considering two starting questions. First, how can I use tried-and-true content formats and technology platforms to improve the impact of my communications? And second, what new innovations can I integrate to surprise, delight, and engage even more powerfully?
Make no mistake, your audiences are approaching the content you’re generating and sharing through a personal lens. If you give that person what they want from you and you make it real for them in ways they can’t ignore, you’ll be ahead of the game.
In the Dragon Army world, 2022 planning is in full swing and has been for some time. We’re focusing on ways to use excellent content, design, and digital channels to equip our clients to increase their brand equity, rise above the noise, and add to the company’s bottom line. (Candidly, we’re doing that for ourselves too — as evidenced by a jam-packed tips article.)
So without further ado, here are a few very doable considerations for ways to create and disseminate content that can help you stand out, level up and beyond, and deepen engagement with your end users.
QR Codes are Hot (Again)
Remember when QR codes made their entrance into the marketing space in 1994? Cool technology. Hardly useful. To discover what was behind that interesting little box, you had to have a specific QR code reader app on your phone. Today, thanks to advancements in phone technology, you can simply use your camera to read a QR code. No more need for an additional app. And for creators, the technology has gotten simpler and more useful as well. You can create and customize a QR code almost instantly and place it virtually anywhere.
We’ve seen QR-based menus in use everywhere because restaurants phased out their physical menus to eliminate cross-contamination between guests. We predict that ubiquity will make the tool as commonplace in advertising and information sharing as words and pictures. As that happens, content marketers will find new ways to create, place, and use QR codes in even more playful and engaging formats. They could just become the new portal to deeper content and digital experiences, whether you’re seeking to play, learn, or find a snack.
Video Gets (Even More) Real
Livestream and video-on-demand (VOD) aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, except maybe everywhere. Audiences are hungry for brand authenticity, and tech innovators and investors are ready to equip content producers to give it to them. There’s a reason why podcasts are being simultaneously released on YouTube, for example. We love to hear stories in the voices of their tellers, but more and more, audiences are seeking to see the faces behind those voices as well.
The other practical side of this equation is reach. By 2022, online videos are expected to make up more than 82% of all consumer internet traffic — 15 times higher than it was in 2017. Together, we expect content marketers will begin to produce more video content more quickly, putting more priority on honesty than polish, and finding more ways than ever to get those ‘real’ stories in front of wide, invested audiences. (And with shoppable video posts, the gauntlet just got heavier.)
Not unlike the imperative behind the move away from hyper-polish and toward hyper-real in video, we expect to see UGC (user-generated content) gaining even more importance in 2022. For content marketers who see social media as a conversation with audiences (which, of course, it is), UGC offers a host of benefits. First, by using UGC as part of their social strategy, brands are showing they are attuned to their audience members. And they are rewarding those members of their audience who are invested and interested enough in the brand to create content on their behalf.
Second, UGC is a brilliant form of brand advocacy. An estimated 90% of consumers say user-generated content holds more influence over their buying decisions than promotional emails and even search engine results because it shines an authentic and sincere light on a business. This benefit aligns with the 2022 trend toward more (and more unpolished) videos. Who doesn’t want someone else to say their brand is fabulous? UGC, when done well, can be the epitome of social proof. For brands willing to monitor and manage it well, it’s a solid pillar in the content marketing house.
Personalization + Honesty = Productive Connections
As anyone who has worked in the space will tell you, not all content marketers are equal. You have those who crank out content at warp speed and audiences eat it up, whether it’s healthy or junk. These people are charismatic, sticky (in a good way), and often hyper-influential. You have the big brands that are able to (and can afford to) create and curate content that elevates their brand above the noise. They are stunning, polished, and winning share of voice. And then you have the 80% — those brands that exist somewhere in the middle. They have brand standards and they recognize the incredibly high comparative ROI of content marketing (it can generate three to four times as many leads as traditional marketing but cost as much as 62% less) so it’s part of their strategy. Nonetheless, they lack the budget range of the big guys and the space to flex like the independents.
So what does success look like for the companies that exist in the grey zone? Personalization. We’ve already established that audiences expect brands to be honest and that some of the best tools for showing up in real ways are already pretty well tested (QR, video, UGC). The missing piece is listening. Fortunately, tools for listening and measurement are plentiful and affordable (even free).
In 2022, as it has been in years past, great content marketing comes down less to the specific tools you use and more to how you use the tools in your kit. Brands that listen first and always, communicate and connect in genuine ways, measure what works, and employ a smart content marketing strategy based on those tactics are set up for success, regardless of their size.
Enduring Content Considerations
As we move into 2022, we expect marketing budgets will continue to shrink. Brands will have to navigate how to crank out impeccable content while keeping costs low. That means efficiency is more important than ever. The best way to hit the sweet spot between investment and impact is with a piece of impeccable pillar content that you know will resonate, then tailor it to connect with your audiences on the channels where they are most like to be delighted to hear from you.
Chances are, you’ll choose a mix of 2022 content approaches and tools that are most in line with your budget and brand needs. No matter what levers you decide to pull, remember that perhaps the most important resources in your content marketing toolkit are creativity and polish. Truly great results happen in the last 10% — the place where the idea gets executed in via a delightful user experience and voice, design, and copy that sparkle.
We hope that this practical look at content trends shines a light on accessible ways for your brand to cut through the noise with honest, surprising, delightful, useful content in 2022.