With 2017 drawing to a close and silly season officially underway, marketing minds are firmly focused on the year ahead.

If you’re not already thinking strategically about the benefits of investing in content and developing a content strategy, now is the time to start.

And if, like the rest of us, you’re assessing how to accelerate your content efforts and get a jump on your competitors, you’ll need to have a fair idea of which trends are bubbling under the surface.

So let’s dig in and see what else is coming down the track in 2018.

For part 1 of our trend predictions, see here to worth planning for.

Uptake in 360 degree video

This year there’s already been a significant uptake in the use of 360 video by marketers and the medium is set to explode further in 2018.

The arrival of the Insta360 clip-on cameras for Android phones and iPhones earlier this year has meant that it’s now cheaper than ever to create these popular kind of immersive images and video, removing barriers to entry and paving the way for a niche to go mainstream.

Brands with smaller production budgets will be able to throw in their lot – but perhaps even more importantly, the proliferation of cheap kit amongst the general public will help audiences become more and more familiar with the format, easing the nerves of brand owners everywhere.

in 2018 expect to see:

  • 360 video campaigns on social (Facebook, Youtube and Twitter via Periscope) become increasingly common across the board, but particularly in visually appealing industries like fashion, retail, travel and food.
  • Smaller brands (with smaller budgets) trying 360 video, facilitated by the rolling out of more affordable models and gadgets that incorporate 360 technology.
  • The beginnings of user-generated 360 degree content as the medium starts to infiltrate the universe of the amateur photography blogger.

Conversational chatbots

The nature of doing business online has traditionally made it near-impossible for brands to give their customer interactions a personal touch, in what has been a barrier to relationship-building.

Regaining this personal touch is now a priority for brands and marketers heading into 2018, who want to meet the expectations of today’s savvy consumer demands that they to get to know them before them make money out of them.

In this vein, there’s been an uptake in over the past 12 months is the use of conversational chatbots for audience interactions. Greeting a customer at audience touch points with personalised messaging that suits your brand tone is more natural and less frustrating for audiences that standardised, robotic contact forms or ‘contact us’ email options – and now that the tech is so widespread, the barriers have dropped.

According to Smart insights, the quickest adaptors to chatbots are millennials – perhaps unsurprisingly – with nearly 60% surveyed saying they’ve already used chatbots and 71% saying they’d like to try a chatbot experience from major brands.

In 2018 expect to see:

  • Personalised, conversational chatbots advance in our communications with brands on owned platforms, engaging at key audience touch points;
  • An uptake in major brands using third-party chatbots via Facebook messenger as virtual advisors for real time actions, enabled with search capabilities, intended to guide the audience further down the funnel to a conversion.

Increase in content hires and teams

A whopping 94% of those polled by Uherrd at Publish Or Perish: The Content Conference replied that their company/brand has increased its content marketing spend in the past year.

As the content landscape continues to grow at a rapid pace, there is an industry-wide increase in the number of content roles opening up – and investment will stretch not just to the occasional freelancer or sole hire, but entire teams and internal newsrooms.

Jobbio, for instance, has seen a marked increase in the past 12 months in the number of content roles cropping up in agencies and in-house, according to Dee Murphy, Head of Content and Employer Branding at the online jobs marketplace.

Dee sees this as owing to the brand-building potential of content: “When it comes to brand building, content truly is king. We’re seeing companies increasingly position themselves to target audiences with blogs, videos and influencer promotions.”

In 2018, we can expect to see:

  • A continued increase in in-house content team hire as teams increase their teams in accordance with their content marketing efforts.
  • On the more advanced end of the spectrum, content roles will become more specialised as marketing teams mature and adjust accordingly.

This is a telling and significant trend that indicates that not is content marketing here to stay, but that your competitors are going to step up their efforts in 2018.

Do you have anything you’d like to add? Feel free to share, comment or contact us with any queries or qualms!