Following another fact & stat packed Breakfast Briefing by the CMA, it’s clear that video continues to dominate where content is concerned. Video has accounted for around 75% of all online traffic in 2017 and set to rise even further in 2018. But what are the specific trends going to be? The expert panel from various prominent agencies identified several areas that could be worth considering when allocating your content budget.

Storytelling. Whilst technology leaps forward with innovations like interactive dynamic video, 360 video, virtual and augmented reality, experts agree there is nothing better than a simple well-told story to sit at the heart of your brand. People are engaging much more on an emotional level with brands rather than with actual products. This is nothing new, but as lines become blurred between advertising, marketing and communications, it’s a tactic worth exploring if you are not doing it already.

Cohesive, cross-platform campaign strategies. Even though platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn demand different content formats, brands will increasingly develop cohesive stories that can be told across platforms whether it’s via video, pictures or written content like blogs. This will allow for greater synergy resulting in stronger brand identities.

Psychographic messaging. By understanding audiences better through data collection and analytics, brands will be able to target groups more effectively. A single message can be crafted in different ways for diverse audiences. This was achieved in the USA this year involving the right to bear arms. Two ads were created either focusing on the heritage and tradition of the amendment, (designed to appeal to the older generation), or by playing on fear and the need for protection, (typically focused towards females). Expect this to be a big trend with brands that can afford to do detailed audience profiling.

Opportunist content. It’s already going on, but predictions for 2018 involve even more brands being playful with popular culture to reinforce their relevance. This year Heinz famously instigated the fictional suggested Heinz campaign from Mad Men, Kellogg’s jumped on the Eggo waffle reference in cult TV show ‘Stranger Things’, Ikea made a tongue-in-cheek comparison between their distinctive blue bag and that of Balenciaga. This ‘audience first’ approach, as opposed to the traditional ‘brand first’ tactic is likely to become more prolific in the coming months.

Dark social. For those who dare to go there this could be a profitable marketing tool and it’s not as murky as the name suggests. It merely refers to using private or direct messaging as opposed to the openness of a Facebook post or a tweet. Peer to peer sharing, much like word of mouth via individual or group conversations online. Adidas recently recruited a ‘Tango squad’ from captains of kid’s sports teams to be their brand ambassadors via Whatsapp groups. Brands can offer incentives to these select consumers either exclusively, or before making an offer or product widely available. It’s not easy to measure, which might be why it’s not more broadly used, but a quick poll in the office proved that people are much more likely to share to select friends rather than all of their online followers. Definitely worth considering, especially if you are looking for brand ambassadors     and can offer them something in return.

Above all, the goal should be to create content that audiences choose to consume in order to succeed in a crowded market place. The push is towards being relevant, entertaining and consistent across all platforms whilst leaving corporate messaging behind. Bring on 2018! 

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