As we approach the end of yet another year, it’s time to deliberate on the trends we expect to see in content marketing in 2016.
Given Pugsly the office dog, is currently playing fetch with my glass ball, let’s reflect instead, on some of the trends discussed at this years Global Leadership Summit. Julian Birkinsha, spoke about what a world with too much information might look like. With a staggering 4.76 billion pages now on the web, this doesn’t sound as crazy as it first seems (worldwidewebsize.com). Here’s a recap of his three predictions, and what they might mean for content marketing in 2016 and beyond.
1. Paralysis by analysis
We become so obsessed with watching and reading stuff online that we fail to act on it. For content marketers this means that the line between engagement and purchase behavior becomes increasingly blurred. As we enter what has been termed the networked age and the rules of business commerce start to look a whole lot different.
So what does content marketing look like in the networked age?
We predict that strategic, networked connections will become the foundation of success. Dealing with media channels, vendors, customers, sponsorships, bloggers and advocates as separate entities will be a thing of the past. Those who can nail algorithms modeling consumer and agent connections across channel and interests, using social network analysis will come out on top. To clarify, we’re talking about the sociological/ mathematical concept of social network analysis, not social media networks. To tweak a quote by Ralph D. Stacey:
‘We need to think less like marketers and more like biologists’.
Confused? Let me explain. This is way beyond attribution modeling. It involves harnessing big data to uncover audience segments who have high network centrality (they are central to connecting huge numbers of others – think Beyoncé). Highly bonded groups (consumers who have high interconnection, cohesion and trust – think 12BWT). People with high bridging capability (individuals who connect groups with other groups – think Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp founders of Uber) and super connectors (people who have huge numbers of reciprocal connections – think Nicko’s Kitchen). If your head is spinning – join the club.
2. We are becoming intellectually lazy.
Easy access to information means we know longer need to remember it. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has totally lost the capacity to quickly recall numbers, names and addresses. With over 3.5 billion searches per day. We have Google to thank for making us smarter and stupider at the same time.
So what does this mean for content marketing? Brands that focus more on helping consumers to make sense of information, and what it means for them in daily life, will help counter this trend.
We predict brands will spend more time helping consumers to understand what the products they are offering mean in relation to society’s biggest concerns today – the economy, terrorism & war, health & social issues and climate change (Roy Morgan 2015).
3. Win-win thinking
We have been programed to think about competition as win/ lose. How many of us have sat in meeting after meeting, brainstorming ways to win customers from the competition? Yet, if we think again about social network analysis. For those who are able to conceptualise and understand this kind of thinking, the whole notion of competition changes and a shift in perspective is required for win-win solutions.
‘We succeed at our very best only when we help others succeed’ – Jim Collins
Those already displaying revolutionary thinking are paving a new way of doing business. An example of this is the rapid growth of the shared economy currently worth USD 26 billion globally. Here, we predict an increased focus on purpose.
‘People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.’ – Simon Sinek
Think about Uber and Airbnb, the beauty of these companies is not that they offer better value than the competition, rather, they operate on the premise that a consumer’s underused assets can be shared for the benefit of all – literally, gold.
Consumers don’t just want to buy good products; they want to buy products from companies that do good.
As the social implications of cheap products and unethical business become increasingly visible, people want to hear the story behind the brand before they purchase. Content marketing plays a fundamental role to help consumers make sense of why a brand exists and the good that it does. For content marketers 2016 is the time to tell this story.
Rachael Butler has 12 year’s experience of brand and content marketing. She is currently heading up strategy at 3rdspace, a boutique content company that helps brands with purpose, create content with meaning.