One of the most interesting things about my involvement with content marketing is that the industry never sits still – there is always a new development or trend emerging on the horizon. That’s why the most successful content marketers are constantly consuming as well as creating content, keeping a weather eye open for the next big thing and ensuring their efforts stay bang on the money. And the changing face of content consumption is one area that is undeniably important for brands to stay abreast of – after all, it’s this that can shape your whole content strategy.
Traditionally, technology has been the key instigator of development in the content marketing industry. From the dawn of social media to the evolution of the smartphone, marketers have had to adapt their approach to cater to the changing demands of an increasingly tech-savvy audience. However, research conducted last year by Hubspot suggests we are on the cusp of another period of major change, where the way that consumers read, interact and engage with content is set to transform markedly.
Content – adapt to succeed
The marketing firm’s survey of 1,091 global internet users found that content consumption had, unsurprisingly, increased dramatically on the most popular social networks of Facebook (+57% increase), Twitter (25% increase) and LinkedIn (21% increase), indicating the efforts the networks have made to retain the attention of their users is working. These figures highlight the need for brands to ensure content is sufficiently distributed across the platforms that prove the most popular with their specific audience. But what form of content is proving the most popular?
The research revealed that 55% of respondents chose video as the content they pay the closest attention to, closely followed by social media posts (52%) and news articles (49%). Blog posts, interactive tools and long-form content were rated as most likely to be skim read by readers.
However, when you take into account the fact that the search engines tend to favour longer form content where readers can spend more time delving into a subject, alongside previous research by Hubspot which revealed that articles with a higher word count garner more organic traffic, you can see that there is no point in wiping these types of content from your marketing strategy.
Instead, brands should focus their efforts on adapting their content to reflect the consumption habits of their audience i.e. blog posts and longer form content needs to be easy to digest and structured for skimming, whilst video should be utilised when you need to make a splash and grab attention. At the very least, content marketers need to consider dabbling in the world of video, particularly when you consider Cisco’s prediction that 82% of internet traffic will be video by 2020.
Additionally, Hubspot found that 45% of respondents watched an hour or more of video content on Facebook and YouTube each week. It’s worth noting too that, whilst you might be forgiven for assuming that this was more specifically millennial behaviour, it was found that a third of older generations watch an hour or more on YouTube alone.
Of course, for many brands it will be more than enough to hear that millennial consumers, who are gradually accumulating greater spending power as the years advance, worship at the altar of video. Those businesses that begin experimentation with video at this stage in the game are placing themselves in the best position for success in the future as the tide of video content consumption gathers speed.
Game changing tech
In other news, virtual and augmented reality are fledgling trends which shouldn’t be ignored by brands. Already being embraced by advertisers, it is a matter of time before it gradually seeps into content marketing as an exciting new method for consumer interaction. Although we are some years off VR and AR being absorbed into the mainstream, it will be interesting to see how forward-thinking content marketers seek to embrace these technologies to stand out amongst increasingly interactive ads.
Examples of this sort of innovative action includes the Hacienda Patron tequila distillery providing consumers with a 360-degree, behind-the-scenes, educational seminar all about their product and Marriott Hotels, creating an experience for consumers to explore a destination and one of their hotels in a manner that trumped hours of online research in one fell swoop.
With game changing tech poised to work its magic on the way content is consumed over the coming years, brands can look forward to more channels than ever being available to showcase their products, services and content. It’s now a matter of making sure your content stands out from the rest. Funnily enough, we can help out with that.Ben Hollom
June 8, 2017