2015 content marketing trends: Why it’s time for marketers to either go hard or go home

Trends! It’s that time of year! Only last month, I was on a panel at GITEX Technology Week, discussing 2015 trends that will shape social media. I also attended our sister agency PHD’s annual BrainScape event, where global luminaries, including “futurologist” Jason Silva, spoke about emerging trends and transformations. Lastly, our CEO Elie Khouri also shared his sentiments on trends for 2015 for Campaign Middle East.

At Resolution, we are avid trend hunters. By nature, we are curious.  With so much change and promise in the digital communications industry, we owe it to ourselves, to the industry and to our clients to be critical and discerning about jumping on bandwagons. As the saying goes- just because we can doesn’t mean that we should.

Next year is going to be an interesting year in this space, one that I predict will be quite challenging and tumultuous, but ultimately worthwhile. The following are my thoughts on the first of a few trends that I see coming our way.

The number one key trend for 2015: go hard or go home

If you’ve been working with social media and digital marketing over the last six years, you could be forgiven for thinking you were at one, long Social Media Festival. It’s been swell. We’ve seen Earned media headlining the event, with Paid and Owned media acts supporting them. We’ve seen some social media superstars, yet we’ve also seen brands that abuse social media crash and burn.

I see 2015 as the year that content marketing matures. The party’s over and it’s time for brands to get into shape. Consumer and platform trends point to this. Both platforms and people are punishing brands that have no purpose by playing hard-to-get. Facebook has adjusted their algorithm to favor relevant content, with Twitter trialing similar tactics. Most platforms are in stages of a monetization strategy that rewards good content and punishes the bad. Content that is not supported by paid media is either washed away by the social media fire hose of conversation (Twitter) or simply denied entry (Facebook).

From the public’s side, I think it’s fair to say there’s an element of social media fatigue. As individuals, we are no longer impressed by a brand being on social. We’re judgmental, discerning and savvy. We are turned off by irrelevant brand content and offended by anything less than responsive courtesy. Plus, it’s not all about social media anymore. SEO and content marketing are the new industry darlings, with web, mobile, social and email operating as content marketing workhorses.

So what’s a brand to do? In 2015, you have a choice: either you go hard, or you go home. Invest in great content and do the job properly, or rip the Band-Aid off and get out of this space. The worst thing a brand can do is stick around, wasting time and money producing content that is not on brand and also not supported by strategy or paid media.

Subsequently, I foresee a number of brands leaving this space. This is not such a bad thing. As a user, I would rather engage with three brands doing it properly than be subjected to a billion, getting in my way.

So if your brand is going to stick around in 2015, here’s a content marketing checklist, of sorts:

  1. Understand your company’s business strategy
  2. Understand your marketing strategy and its KPIs, which link to the business strategy
  3. Define your key audiences. Know what channels they use and how they use them
  4. Understand your audience’s perceptions of your brand and its competitors
  5. Strategize how content marketing will address both the needs of your customers, while supporting your marketing and business KPIs
  6. Have a content strategy – what is your editorial mission statement? How does your brand interact? What are its content pillars, tone of voice, etc.?
  7. Plan your content marketing ecosystem. This needs to take into consideration your customer/user journeys
  8. Plan your amplification tactics to ensure your content is seen by the right people
  9. Test content and tactics wherever possible
  10. Measure and listen to feedback, both prompted and unprompted
  11. Refine, learn and tweak your strategy to be as responsive as possible

By employing such an approach, you’ll be able quantify and qualify your efforts. Hopefully, this is old news to you and you’ve got a head start on most of these. For those brands still flapping in the breeze without purpose or plan, it’s time to take stock and think very carefully about your next move. It may be better to stop, regroup and plan than just blow money into the breeze.

We live in highly accountable, economic times at the end of the day; marketers are answerable for their budgets. We must work together to make your content efforts count. This is why we are performance marketers, after all.