The prospect of success with online content is a constantly moving target. What might be remarkably popular and profitable today could fall flat on its face tomorrow. Part of this has to do with demographics, part of this has to do with evolving technology, and part of it has to do with current trends in what people want and crave when it comes to content on the Internet.
Blogs used to be little more than online diaries, but they’ve quickly grown to become full-fledged online magazines with full-time staff, research teams, and more. People expect quality… and sometimes they just want to be entertained with listicles. I don’t need to remind you that while text serves its purpose, it needs to be supported with other content too. Photos, videos, infographics, podcasts… the sheer variety of online content types can be staggering.
But where are the shifts in online content headed? A guide was recently put together on Envato’s Tuts+ about how to market to millennials and young professionals in 2018. While they talk about this generally younger demographic, like how they are racially diverse and gravitate toward metropolitan areas, the take-home message about marketing strategies surrounding online content are applicable for the Internet as a whole.
User Generated Content
The first point that they bring up is that of authenticity. As a rule of thumb, online users are less interested in the disembodied analysis of a faceless contributor. That’s why blogs with a name, face and personality are so much more popular. Readers not only want to know what you’re writing about, but they also want to know who you are.
But this goes much further. The least amount of trust comes when a message comes from a brand directly. Then, they trust the content of an expert a little more. But who they really gravitate toward is each other. User generated content is nothing new online, but it has gained so much more weight and prominence in recent years.
You can conduct a Google search on any number of topics, and what floats to the top? Forum posts, TripAdvisor threads, Yelp reviews. For real authenticity, you need to build a community around your brand where the users can contribute their views too.
It’s said that whatever you read in the printed newspaper is yesterday’s news. And if you’re reading something in a magazine, it could be weeks or even months old. The Internet moves at a much faster pace and users crave recency. And it doesn’t get any more recent than content that is being produced in real-time.
Live-blogging or live-tweeting an event was (and is) hugely popular, and this has quickly evolved into live video streams like on Facebook Live, YouTube Live, Instagram Live and more. If you’re in a position where you can provide that real-time content, your audience will adore you for it. Instagram stories and tweets are a great way to do this too.
But even if you’re not doing it in real time, you need to place a higher priority on super recent content. Reply to comments — on your blog and on social media — as quickly as possible. You’ll notice this on Facebook pages, for example, where they’ll even show how quickly a brand responds to messages. This carries a lot of weight.
Social Media Content
It goes without saying that social media is playing a remarkably prominent role in online content. But simply syndicating content across all those networks isn’t enough. As Tuts+ points out, “every social media site has different sizes required for graphics and video posts. Be aware of these differences, especially when cross-posting content across different platforms.”
If you’re making a graphic that you want to post on your Facebook page, you should take the time and care to adapt it for your Twitter and Instagram too. Be cognizant of how the content is being consumed and cater to the platform. This also includes consideration for content length. While YouTube videos of about two minutes get good engagement, Instagram videos work best if they’re only 30 seconds, and Instagram Stories videos are limited to 15 seconds.
Big Picture Content
And last but not least, the modern consumer is much more “woke” and aware of social issues than ever before. While it isn’t the only concern that they’ll have, they will prefer to buy from and support brands whose values align with their own. If you have content that is more cause-related, showing how you support your community or how you give to charitable causes, you’re more likely to resonate with this audience.
Your brand isn’t just about the content you produce or the products you sell. It’s about who you are and what you support. As long as you are authentic about it, encourage a two-way discussion in real-time, and cater the content to the platform, of course.