In an interesting dichotomy of content marketing trends, popular content formats in 2018 will be a mix of interactive assets and long-form print pieces. The first type—experiential content—brings high-levels of engagement and mimics live events. The latter is a return to a deeper sharing of knowledge that helps people master concepts and skills. Following is a brief summary of content formats that will be paramount in 2018.
Because experiencing events employs multiple senses, viewer retention levels for live video are high. This helps brands, influencers, and SMEs capture and keep the attention of important audiences. A recent study co-sponsored by Livestream and New York Magazine shows that 80% of brand audiences would rather watch live video from a brand than read a blog, and 82% prefer live video from a brand to social posts. In addition, 45% of live video audiences would pay for live, exclusive, on-demand video from a favorite team, speaker, or performer. A Facebook study states that viewers are 10X more likely to interact with live video vs. pre-recorded pieces.
Expect to see more live video used to give behind the scenes tours, share thought leadership such as conference presentations, TED Talk-type events or breaking news, expand live entertainment events to a broader audience, and showcase travel destinations through the eyes of influencers.
Another form of experiential content is chatbots, which are expected to grow in use over the next year. According to a recent report by Grand View Research, the global chatbot market is expected to reach $1.25 billion by 2025. The use of chatbots is already prevalent across websites and online shopping venues – expect to see them extend to instant messaging formats. Many companies are building bots for top messaging platforms including Facebook Messenger, SMS, Kik, Amazon Echo, and Slack. Answering a few questions leads to highly personalized experiences such as direct ordering, recommendations, tips, and customer service. Bots also allow brands to insert personality into the content experience through characters and conversation.
Nearly a quarter of Americans listen to podcasts regularly, according to a report by Edison Research and Triton Digital. Podcasts will continue to grow, allowing organizations to become content brands through association with serialized programming. Podcasts also make it easier for SMEs to participate in high quality content without the time commitment of long-form print.
Although some B2B brands never abandoned long-form print formats such as whitepapers and eBooks, many declared that any content longer than three pages would never be read. This may be the year when we see a resurgence of much longer, more in-depth pieces as people seek more than high-level summaries. They want detailed information to guide and educate.