Content marketing trends for 2016
Storytelling Content Creation

Content Marketing in 2016: 6 Content Creation Formats You Should Know

The new year is upon us, and content creation is hotter than ever. As more and more content is published online, it’s important for content creators to stay on top of trends so that we can remain both effective and competitive.

In 2016, content marketing continues to grow and change, but now it’s everywhere. It’s less of a question whether businesses should do it, and more of a question of how to do it well. How can brands create effective content marketing strategies in the 2016 landscape?

Content creators can start by understanding the top trends in content formats, and capitalize on these trends in the coming year. Sometimes, that means learning new skills such as design or video production. In other cases, it simply means improving on strategies you already have in place.

1. Video Continues to Reign Supreme

Video content is engaging, and content marketers who include it in their efforts are likely to see success. YouTube alone receives more than a billion unique visitors every month, making the video network more popular than Twitter and LinkedIn. According to Cisco, video will account for 69 percent of all consumer online traffic by 2017.

Even though you’ve probably seen some viral videos that did wonders for a company, you’re better off incorporating video into your content strategy in a holistic way. It’s tough to manufacture virality, but you have the power to create useful content for your audience.

One of the best ways to integrate video into a content marketing strategy is through the creation of how-to videos. For example, The Idaho Painter, a self-proclaimed “YouTube Paint Instructor,” has a series of YouTube videos to provide home improvement instruction to his followers. The Idaho Painter teaches people how to stain a wood door, how to paint a room in an hour, and how to install window trim—all through video.

2. Podcasting Becomes a Legitimate Thing

For a long time, radio storytelling was a thing of the past. You might’ve imagined your grandparents sitting by the radio listening to classics like Little Orphan Annie. Radio storytelling has come full circle in the form of podcasts. According to Pew Research Center data, podcast listens have seen steady growth since 2008.

American who have listened to a podcast in the past month

I love podcasts, and I have many that I listen to on a regular basis. Not only do these podcasts provide inspiration for content marketers, but many are starting their own. Jay Acunzo, a marketer at NextView Ventures, a venture capital firm, has started a branded podcast on how startups get traction, a relevant topic for NextView’s prospective and current portfolio companies.

In 2016, more brands will begin to release their own podcasts.

3. Content Marketers Think Mobile First

Marketers and Web developers have been talking about mobile for a long time, but companies are increasingly thinking with mobile-first attitudes, as mobile search traffic has now surpassed that from PCs.

What does this shift mean for content creators? We need to pay attention to where and how our audience receives content, ensuring that we can write concise and clear copy that helps mobile users complete conversions and transactions on their device of choice. We need to envision that the content will be consumed on a smartphone, even if we do our writing on desktop computers.

These days, Google privileges content that performs well on mobile, making a mobile attitude an essential part of our search discovery strategies.

4. Long-Form Content Wins ROI

In the past year, long-form content—for example, blog posts that broke 1,500 words—got significant attention. Marketers began to experiment with different lengths to see how their audience responded to more comprehensive content pieces.

serpIQ studied the average length of the content in search results to determine if there were any trends. The company found that the top-rated posts were usually over 2,000 words, suggesting that Google likes to see this type of comprehensive content.

Avg content length

Whether you choose to make long-form articles a part of your content marketing strategy or not, it’s worth experimenting with the medium. In the first quarter of 2016, you might experiment by creating two or three long-form blog posts to see how they perform compared to shorter posts.

5. Images and Good Design Continue to Matter

As brands use content marketing to increase their authority and build audience, it has become harder to stand out. In order to get results, you need to make sure that your design matches the quality of the content. Gorgeous design will become an essential part of content creation.

That means integrating images into blog posts and on social media. Though many marketers use quick tools like Canva and PicMonkey, in the new year it might be worth taking an online course on PhotoShop.

If you have an in-house or freelance designer you regularly work with, have a meeting at the beginning of the year to discuss how you can improve your content with great design and compelling images.

6. Quality Content (in Any Format) Will Dominate

Ann Handley, founder of MarketingProfs and content marketing influencer, made predictions for content marketing in 2016. Handley’s take? In the coming year, content marketing will grow up.

Basically, Handley has seen marketers try all sorts of tactics to get attention on their content, but now understand the investment that quality content marketing requires. In 2016, brands will take a more mature approach to creating content, prioritizing quality over quantity at all times. They’ll also have processes in place to help them monitor analytics and make substantial improvements.

No matter the format, marketers will prioritize quality content creation.

Know the Top Trends for 2016

The first step to growing and learning as a content marketer is to know the top trends. In 2016, I expect to see content marketing continue to mature, requiring us to refine our skills and adjust what we can offer. To stay on top of your game, you might want to explore new skills, such as design, podcast production, or writing for mobile.

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