As 2014 begins, experts are making several predictions about what we’ll see in terms of public relations and marketing. I’m sharing information on three trends related to content and writing that I’ve seen and my take on them.
Trend #1: More Social Media Integration with Advertising
One of the most interesting predictions I heard on a Convince and Convert podcast was that 2014 will see more collaboration between social media teams and paid advertising teams. The podcast used the example of persuading people who are only following you on Facebook to also sign up to become email subscribers so that you have a wider range of ways to reach those people in a permission-based fashion.
I’m thinking that social media-paid advertising collaborations will also lead to an increase in integrated campaigns where, for example, a brand or organization uses social media to tell those followers to look for a particular ad in order to gain some kind of exclusive benefit. And of course, organizations can also include information about their social channels in their traditional marketing techniques to encourage prospects to follow and engage with them on social media.
One outstanding example in the area of paid ad-social media collaboration from 2013 is Kia Motors. The company was cited in Forbes for its success in merging traditional video ads with social campaigns. And that leads us to the next prediction.
Trend #2: Increases in Online Video and Visual Content
Both the Convince and Convert blog and the Social Media Today blog predicted that visual content, particularly video, will be the content marketing tool of choice in 2014. The Search Engine Watch blog made the same prediction for video in 2014 plus some others, including that this will be the year that mobile video really comes into its own.
The good news for professional communicators is that getting their videos online has never been easier. In addition to YouTube, we now have access to video based channels and tools such as Twitter’s Vine micro-video app, the Snapchat micro-video messaging app, the Vimeo community and Instagram video.
While this may mean that some of you will be switching at least a portion of your communication efforts to video content, bear in mind that writing will still be an essential factor for succeeding in this area. As stated in this article on explainer videos (videos that explain a product or service and why people should purchase it), a video’s success lies in the script that’s been written for it.
As for non-video visuals, I must confess that I’ve shown a lack of imagination in years past. For example, I thought that Pinterest boards would only work for businesses with products that could be photographed and displayed on the boards. But Joan Stewart, the Publicity Hound, has proven me wrong. Other types of visual content that popular in 2013 were infographics, slideshows, etc., all of which have proved popular. However, I’ve read a lot of grumbles about the flood of low-quality infographics everywhere, so take the time to plan and design properly.
Trend #3: Native Advertising
The blog Social Media Examiner asked several experts about their predictions for 2014, and the first one listed was that advertorials would be making a comeback as “native advertising,” also known as sponsored content. All three terms refer to paid content that is presented in a fashion similar to a site’s regular articles. Depending on the website, the paid content could be text, video or some other media.
A debate about ethics and transparency rages around this blurred distinction between advertising and content, but the native advertising movement does appear to be gaining momentum. As 2013 drew to a close, The New York Times announced that it would be joining ranks of websites accepting paid content.
Is native advertising transparent? I found that multiple articles linked to one Mashable page sharing really sweet real-life stories about man’s best friend as an example of Purina’s native advertising. I searched for Purina’s name but otherwise, I’m pretty sure I would have missed it, but that could be my own naivety. In any case, I didn’t feel manipulated and I loved the content.
So if you do opt for native advertising, focus on providing content people will really appreciate rather than just trying to push a product or service. And make sure that whatever online publication you partner with has some way to identify your content as sponsored content even if it’s subtle.
Don’t Follow Trends Blindly
Please bear in mind that you don’t have to automatically jump on the bandwagon with these three trends just because they are predicted to surge in 2014. What will work for you depends on your industry and the preferences of your customers and preferred prospects. While some people will love content that’s divided into micro-bites of video, there will be others who’ll wonder why they can’t just have a white paper.
You need to look at three things before deciding whether or not you should be a part of any of these trends:
- Understand your target audiences and whether they’ll respond to these types content.
- Review your resources and determine what you can realistically achieve with the money, expertise and manpower you have.
- Figure out if there’s any way that these new trends or more old-school tactics will actually help you achieve your goals (or sub-goals), take advantage of opportunities or resolve problems.
Then you’re good to go.