We’re all glad to leave 2020 in the past and look towards a more predictable and less challenging future. 2020 reshaped marketing as buyer trends veered completely towards eCommerce and digital marketing, as millions of people shifted work and study at home exclusively. This was not wholly unexpected, as we were already moving towards these trends consistently pre-pandemic, but last year’s events exacerbated the rate at which they trended. If anything, we’ve gained a lot of experience and caution, helping us have a more predictable year. Here are our top content marketing trends you can expect (and should exploit) in 2021:
1. Live-Streamed Content
2020 brought us back into our homes and interacting more with our computers and screens than ever before. Live TV had become a thing of the past with the advent of on-demand streamed content. Still, the inability to participate in in-person social activities made us want to experience being in the presence and contact of other people in some other way. Live-streamed content experienced a boom in 2020 in everything from socially-distanced live performances by artists and musicians to live-streamed influencer reviews of products or other videos. Live views shot up 50% on Facebook and 70% on Instagram last year as people trended toward the “in-the-moment” connection live-streaming offers.
This creates a fantastic opportunity to help your brand connect on a more personal level with your audience and give your company human faces to interact with them. Companies can use this to their advantage by using shoppable live streams where viewers can make purchases and donations while watching. Webinars, workshops, roundtable discussions, and product/service showcases or reviews can all be leveraged for live-streamed content.
2. User-Generated Content
One thing that hasn’t changed through 2020 is that we are very much in the prime of the experience economy. Customer experiences define buyer choices across almost every industry. This is why it’s crucial to bring validity to your brand by loudly displaying those positive customer experiences. User-generated content such as product reviews or testimonials will be an important part of marketing in 2021, as buyers may weigh their peers’ opinions more heavily than the words of your salespeople.
In B2B scenarios, it might be a bit more challenging to find a popular influencer to help your CSP company boost popularity. However, there are still many ways to leverage UGC to your advantage. Find ways to participate in seminars and workshops or sponsor a business guru in your industry to give your brand visibility among potential buyers. If existing buyers are developing their own content, scout out ways to get in on the action by publishing an article in tandem or feature them in a case study they are likely to promote on their own media channels.
3. Purpose-Driven Content and Sustainability
It’s a year of recovery. We finally see the light at the end of the tunnel with the pandemic, and economic recovery is slowly but surely ticking up. Many people’s jobs and lives have been affected, and awareness about social issues and more sustainable business practices is at the forefront of people’s concerns. As integral parts of an active community, businesses need to connect with people on deeper, more meaningful levels and showcase how they are willing to work with their buyers to improve their communities’ quality of life rather than use them exclusively for profit.
Most businesses have historically tried to market themselves as neutral on politics. Still, some political issues have become too pressing to ignore, pushing companies to take a stance on certain things. For one, the environment is of utmost importance to the general public and will be on the minds of a majority of buyers when choosing the brands they do business with. Supporting environmentally-friendly business practices and demonstrating a commitment to give back to their communities will mark a significant difference with competitors who aren’t doing so.
Purpose-driven content helps you show your audience what you’re doing. More importantly, purpose-driven content comes from purpose-driven initiatives, which will also give your employees a sense of being part of something important and working for a company that cares about their community. Goodwill is Good Marketing.
4. Inclusivity and diversity
These two issues have already been at the forefront of many marketing and business initiatives for many years. Again, the inevitable overflow of politics into business has made it an even more important and relevant issue in people’s day to day lives, which defines what and what they buy and consume.
Our communities are looking for healing and unity, so it is critical to ensure your audiences know that your company supports inclusivity and diversity in our communities. This ties-in to the previous point on sustainability and purpose-driven initiatives; all which have the ultimate goal to build more unified, tolerant, and cooperative societies. Avoid being on the outside of the conversation and lead from the front as often as possible.
5. On-the-go and easy-to-consume content
If you’re reading this, you’ve likely worked from home this year while playing some video, podcast, or live stream in the background. You’ve also likely consumed a massive amount of social media and YouTube content throughout the last year. And it’s also likely that you haven’t been reading too many books or long business essays. No need to feel ashamed; it’s just the reality of how we consume content nowadays. An important content marketing trend your business should try to take advantage of is producing easy-to-consume content, including videos, podcasts, live-streams, easy-to-read social media posts, and even memes (if you’re witty enough about it and your industry allows it).
We’re not dissuading you from producing deeper content such as blog articles and case studies; these are still important to many buyers looking for those kinds of content experiences. However, easy-to-consume or on-the-go content creates many in-the-moment branding opportunities that don’t require a lot of effort from the audience to get the message across. It’s why more people watch the movie instead of reading the book (although we all know the book is better).
These are our top 5 content marketing trends for 2021 that we believe you should leverage this year to connect with your audiences. Need help with a content strategy that delivers? Talk to us.