There have been big changes across the board, with new life breathed into old formats, a new passion for branded content creation, new social media technologies and a deeper entrenchment of both content and social in the digital marketing mix.
Let’s start with social media
Microsoft started the year by looking into its crystal ball, forecasting that Periscope and Snapchat would dominate social and a 62% cheaper per lead acquisition from content marketing would see the channel forming a major part of digital efforts in 2016. It might have been wrong about Periscope – the Twitter owned platform has failed to dominate interest thus far – but Snapchat has been in the news through the year.
Towards the end of 2015, a study reported in the Wall Street Journal found that brands received more bang for their buck from Instagram and Snapchat than they did from Facebook. Fast forward almost 12 months and the two platforms were lining up side by side with Instagram launching a Stories feature which bore more than a few similarities to Snapchat’s own offering. With Facebook and Twitter quick to follow suit with their own versions, social media storytelling became a popular new method of engaging with followers.
Pinterest had a pretty quiet start to the year but finished on a high with a host of new business tools. It’s slowly but surely strengthening its offering for brands and has developed a number of propositions designed to tempt advertisers away from rivals such as Facebook and Instagram.
While it already had a promoted Pins option, those using Pinterest in 2017 can also tap into a renewed network of experts to help make the most of their content thanks to the revamped Marketing Partners initiative. For those looking to manage Pinterest themselves next year, there’s plenty to get to grips with including a new auto-play promoted video option – with 67% of viewers inspired to take action this could be a powerful way to begin 2017.
What happened in content?
One of the biggest stories of the year in both content and social – and one that we will undoubtedly hear more of in 2017 – is the proliferation of fake news. Things came to a head after the US Presidential Election in November, with some observers wondering whether the proliferation of fake news on Facebook and in search engines influenced the unexpected result. In response, Google said it would change its policy to restrict sites publishing fake news. Facebook followed with a change to one of its own policies, prohibiting ads in apps or on sites that publish fake news. It has also announced other measures such as new reporting features, the option to flag fake news stories and potentially, further changes to its algorithms.
There is sure to be more on this story in 2017 but, don’t expect an easy resolution. After all, should Google really be the gatekeeper to truth and relied upon to sort fact from fiction?
Content curation was also a hot topic in 2016, with many citing the SEO and marketing benefits. This signaled a new way to look at content and a shift in attitudes - in previous years, SEO content might simply have meant a blog post with a few keywords thrown in or a constant stream of landing pages targeted around a particular target phrase.
With Google’s increased emphasis on good quality content and the user experience however, content curation became more widely talked about and experimented with. In a nutshell, it’s the art of finding and sharing information produced by a third party to add to your own unique content creation efforts. Expect to hear more about this in 2017, especially in the context of engagement.
According to research conducted by Becon, there was a marked upswing in the sheer volume of content created in 2016. It found that the average number of content pieces (images and video) that brands created and posted in the past 12 months was three times higher than what it recorded the previous year. This equated to a huge increase in content volume. It says one consumer brand created 29,000 pieces of original content in one region alone, more than triple the previous year. Another retailer it cites created a total of 50,000 original content assets for the US market—way up over previous years.
The report comes with a note of caution that will serve any content marketer well in the New Year, “Engagements are concentrated among a few pieces of content. Just 5% of that branded content garners 90% of total consumer engagements. The other 95% shares the remaining 10% of engagements. In other words, 19 out of 20 content pieces get little to no engagement.”
The takeaway from this? More isn’t necessarily better. Instead of a race to output and curate as much content as possible, 2017 will be shaped by quality over quantity. The need to post hundreds of blogs, articles and infographics will likely be outweighed by the need to create good quality, personalized content that resonates with audiences.
Tell us about your experiences
What has the content landscape looked like for your business in 2016? What will you do differently in 2017? Share your thoughts and experiences with us in the comments below or on our social media channels.