“Data-Driven Thinking” is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.
Today’s column is written by Rachelle Kuramoto, VP of brand and content at Dragon Army.
Smart content marketers are thinking about new ways to use tried-and-true technology as well as ways to integrate new innovations into their communications. Content marketers also are striving to increase brand equity, rise above the noise and add to the company’s bottom line.
If you’re not already planning for 2022, the time to start is now. Here are some insights marketers can consider as they plan for next year.
After all this time, QR codes are trending (again)
Remember when QR codes made their entrance into the marketing space in 1994? Cool technology. Hardly useful. To discover what was behind that little box, you had to have a QR code app on your phone. Today, you can simply use your camera to read a QR code. And for creators, the technology has gotten simpler and more useful. You can create and customize a QR code almost instantly and place it virtually anywhere.
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, except maybe everywhere. Audiences are hungry for brand authenticity, and tech innovators and investors are ready to give it to them.
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.
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.
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 light on a business. Who doesn’t want someone else to say their brand is fabulous? UGC, when done well, can be the epitome of social proof.
Personalization + honesty = better connection
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 hyper-influential.
Then 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 recognize the 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 companies that exist in the gray 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 well tested (QR codes, video, UGC). The missing piece is listening. Fortunately, tools for listening and measurement are plentiful and affordable (even free).
The enduring content considerations – channels and second opinions
As we move into 2022, budgets will continue to shrink. Efficiency is more important than ever. The best way to budget crunch while continuing to show up in the marketplace and rise above the noise is to create a piece of impeccable pillar content that you know will resonate, then tailor it to connect with your audiences where they are.
Chances are, you’ll choose a mix of 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 the most important resource in your content marketing toolkit is your partner and editor; a second set of eyes can confirm whether your content is relevant, interesting and exciting – or if it misses the mark.