It’s every content marketer’s nightmare.
You’ve invested tons of time, resources, and energy in the perfect piece of content, that you just know will resonate with your audience.
And then… it flops. It happens to the best of us.
Maybe you’re late to the party, and your audience isn't engaged with the topic anymore. Maybe the format that worked a few months ago just doesn’t cut it this month. Or maybe you’re posting on the wrong platform, when your audience has moved on to newer and hipper ones (hello, TikTok).
Staying up to date with trends help you make better content marketing decisions
Just like in fashion, content marketing trends change with the season. Trends are driven by technological advancements, global events, new platforms, changes to consumer behavior and demand for certain types of content.
As a digital marketer, you know that the key to reaching your audience is continuous reflection, adaptation, and experimentation, you don’t have to start from nothing. Keeping an eye on key trends in the industry can help you make better strategic decisions, like which marketing teams to hire for or where to focus your budget.
That’s why we worked with two dozen industry experts, leaders, and trailblazers to create our new ebook, in partnership with the Content Marketing Institute, 24 Experts Reveal Their Content Predictions for 2022.
By the end of this post, you’ll understand 7 of the most important content marketing trends in 2022 — and how to use them to your advantage.
Brands need to grow communities, not just lists
In 2022, it’s not enough to publish content just to check a box or build your email list. After two years of enforced isolation, people are desperate for real, human interaction — even online.
This year, meet your customers where they already are — whether that’s in LinkedIn comments, at virtual events, or in members-only social media groups. By listening to what your audience has to say and the words they use, your brand can naturally fold in with the community and add value to the conversation.
Problogger is a brand that does this well: they provide masses of value to their audience through networking opportunities, webinars, podcasts, downloads, and discounts on books, tools, and events.
A good online community is a space where a diverse group of people feels comfortable sharing ideas. When you create your own community for your brand, you can keep the conversation lively — and keep people coming back for more — by introducing thoughtful topics and questions, and providing opportunities for participation.
To sum up, you need to create a real content experience.
People-centric brand storytelling is key
While storytelling has always been key in marketing, these days, a strong message and a well-crafted narrative might not be enough.
In 2022, your brand stories need to connect with consumers on a personal level, convincing them to stick with you and compelling them to take action.
People now trust other people more than any form of marketing thanks to a proliferation of fake news, false narratives, and disingenuous marketing — particularly around contentious subjects like Covid. This means that your content needs to come from a place of honesty and authenticity to resonate with your audience.
Take care to fully understand your audience’s pain points, needs, and desires. Then, you can create great content that helps them — instead of just adding to the noise by jumping on the latest hashtaggable moment.
Dove’s Courage Is Beautiful campaign is a brilliant example of a brand successfully leveraging a current moment. Dove’s video stands out from the sea of polished, slick content we normally see on social media by using footage of real people working in healthcare during the pandemic. This makes it feel authentic, real, and empathetic.
Video remains the most powerful format
In 2021, 80% of all internet traffic was video. And 54% of consumers would like to see more video from brands compared to other content types, according to Hubspot.
This solidifies video’s versatility and shareability, making it an amazing tool to use at any stage of the marketing journey. It’s a warmer, more human way to interact with your audience since it feels much closer to real life.
Despite these benefits, 48% of companies said they struggled to use video to its full potential in 2021. A good video marketing strategy that allows you to connect with consumers requires time and repetition — and there’s a pervasive belief that creating video is time-consuming and expensive.
However, with the right tools, anyone can create video. Using a video creator like PlayPlay, for example, in-house teams with no special expertise can put together professional, polished video content in just a few minutes.
This year, there’s a growing appetite for lo-fi, accessible content that comes from a place of authenticity. Think about how you could use video to showcase the human side of your brand.
Prioritizing and process optimization can reveal new opportunities
In 2021, 67% of content teams surveyed said they’d been asked to do more with the same resources since the start of the pandemic — contributing to the burnout trend.
While this may have led to innovation and new ideas in some cases, it’s clear that this can’t go on forever.
This is a great time to consider the why behind your processes — and optimize or eliminate them if the driving reason is no longer there. You can figure out the best ways to reprioritize and reassign resources by stepping back and looking at your content initiatives and marketing campaigns in terms of your most important business goals and opportunities. This can help you to find new ways of creating better, more efficient processes.
With many content teams stretched to their limits, repurposing digital content across channels is likely to be a big trend this year — and could have great results in terms of ROI. You may also want to look into outsourcing components of creation that require special talent or are too time-consuming to do in-house.
Cutting down on extraneous content creation also provides an opportunity to focus on the content that’s already performing well. If you haven’t already, look into your top five organically performing content pieces. Then, you can maximize their value by keeping them updated with new CTAs and using them to promote your latest products or services.
Content creators must innovate to react to the changing data landscape
The death of the third-party cookie is likely to be one of the most significant challenges for marketers in 2022. However, while you’ll no longer be able to use third-party cookies to track visitors, collect data, and improve UX, there are still many ways to gather valuable information about your prospects.
For example, you could:
- Use tech products to implement personalized content on your website
- Get to know your audience in private communities on Discord or Mighty Networks
- Implement dynamic QR codes; they encourage interaction and engagement via mobile phone, as they can be quickly routed to the location you want them
- Engage in social listening to understand your prospects’ needs and pain points
- Gather valuable insights on your potential customers using gated content
More importantly, 2022 might be the year to simplify data collection and analysis: keep an eye on simple metrics like your value per subscriber, and focus your efforts on creating genuinely compelling content that will keep readers coming back for more.
Communicating with purpose is key for your brand to gain trust
Today’s consumers want to see brands demonstrating cultural awareness, a strong sense of ethics, and a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). And this trend will only increase as time goes on: a recent survey of Generation Z found that 68% expect brands to contribute to society. 61% say they would pay more for ethically and sustainably produced products.
It’s important to be authentic — consumers can smell companies jumping on a cause just to check a CSR box a mile off. Instead of automatically diving into the debate on hot topics like DEI, social justice, and gender identity, look for topics with direct relevance to your company. This way, your contribution will mean something. For example, you could share content about the sustainability of your supply chain, or actions your company took to support employees during the pandemic.
Unique, empathetic, and educational content will help brands to stand out
In 2022, it’s no longer enough to simply find an unmet consumer need and answer it through content. Instead, you must compete with other brands, professional media, influencers, bloggers, and other creatives to produce unique, educational, and inspiring content that people will want to read.
To do this, take the time to identify your target audience’s key questions and top-of-mind concerns, and use these to inform your content marketing strategy. Think carefully about the unique areas of expertise your brand has to offer — and then write the best content on the subject.
Industry experts predict that organic and paid traffic from search and social will continue to decline as the tech giants get better at dominating the market. However, the ROI of ads will also decline, and the real winners will be the brands investing in creating remarkable, memorable content that resonates with their audience.
Big content marketing challenges require expert-sourced solutions
2022 has already begun with some audacious challenges laid out for content marketers. Instead of feeling overwhelmed, dive deeper into the key trends we touched on today by downloading our new ebook.
In it, you’ll find real-world examples, proven industry best practices, and actionable insights from veteran content experts from Nasdaq, Prudential, Convince & Convert, Content Marketing Institute and more. Armed with the wisdom and advice from these thought leaders, you’ll have everything you need to make the right strategic content marketing decisions this year.