Content marketing is set to be bigger than ever in 2018.
In fact, by 2019, the industry is expected to grow by more than double.
Its expected worth?
That’s one huge pie.
If you want a slice of it, it’s time to hop aboard the content marketing bandwagon.
The thing is, when it comes to content marketing today, you can’t just blog 2-3x and call it a day.
In 2018, marketers must be smarter and more strategic with their content strategy.
I repeat: must be more strategic.
If you want to pull ahead of the competition, you need to go the extra mile. All of the practices on my list today will help you get there.
These are golden ways to make your content marketing work better, faster, and longer.
Add these to your 2018 content marketing resolutions and prepare for a powerful, high-performing year.
5 Hot Content Marketing Predictions Every Content Marketer Must Add to Their New Year’s Resolution List
1. Start (and/or Build) a Community
Prediction: Communities, and the power a community brings, will be hotter than ever in 2018.
Starting a community, or focusing on building one if you’ve started but never actually built, gives you a pool of friends and followers who will cheer on your efforts, like and engage with your content, and generally boost everything you do.
Real people, who will take action when you create and publish content just for them.
A good community is based on shared interests, goals, and comradery.
There are many ways to easily start up your own. Here are a few:
- Run a Twitter chat
- Run a Facebook group
- Start a podcast or weekly live show
Bonus: tie multiple communities on multiple channels to each other. I’ll show you how I do that, coming up.
When it comes to building a community, you simply need a place where you know you can commit to showing up regularly, and where people can easily continue to show up and listen to you.
Facebook is one of the best platforms for this. 2.07 billion people use Facebook — 1.15 billion are on the mobile app alone every day.
This ginormous reach ensures you get a real shot at reaching your audience.
And, a Facebook group is perfect for engagement. You can consistently engage, re-engage, and excite your audience just by showing up live in your group, giving away your tidbits of wisdom, and being you.
Real-Life Community Building Example: How I Route 3 Communities to An Active Facebook Group
For over a year now, we’ve been running a Twitter Chat, #ContentWritingChat, and a podcast, Write Podcast. I started the Twitter Chat in January 2016, and the podcast in April of 2016. I’ve run the Write Blog since 2012.
All three communities gain a lot of activity. The Write Blog earns over 1,000 views/day, and the chat has over 200 people joining us during the live hour. To date, I have over 6,000 downloads on the Write Podcast, and the show notes on our site generate a lot of inbound traffic.
In September 2017, I decided to start a Facebook group and start tying CTAs (call-to-actions) to the group from each of my communities. I’d already started a private Facebook group for my course students, but I thought about a general group that I could easily recommend to all of my communities to boost more follow-up engagement. It would be a great way I could “funnel” all my traffic into a real-time channel where I could keep chatting with them, even after the community hour or podcast episode was over.
The idea of my rough traffic funnel was something like this:
Well, the trio-community-funnel idea was a hit.
We’ve seen huge engagement in the group (Content Strategy & Marketing), and on average, during the live mentions of the group in our Twitter chat, I’ll see 8 new members join. Or, two organic new members find their way in from a high-traffic blog CTA – and I did absolutely nothing but update old content to earn that.
It’s gotten to such an activity point where I’ve seen organic members join just because they saw the group recommended to them on Facebook’s feed – their role title was “content marketer.” Again, that’s using the power of Facebook (remember: Facebook does advertising for you to boost engagement on their platform!). For Facebook group content, I focus on adding value in the posts I share in the group. I share 1-3 posts/daily (M-F). My social media manager, Rachel, posts once in the group on Mondays with a sneak peek at our Tuesday Twitter chat questions. This week, I plan to start live streaming in the group.
So, in just four months, with ZERO paid ads, we’ve grown to 389 members in the group. The real magic? Every single post we publish in the group has engagement! That’s because we’ve routed active communities, that already know, like and trust us, to the group. It’s not just a cold community building.
One of the best things about running, specifically, a Facebook group is that it puts a “name to the face” – or rather, a face to the name. I’m live, right there, in the group — solidifying that I’m a real person, besides being an author, CEO, educator, etc.
It’s low-cost and seriously low-effort to start your own group, but you do need a plan to consistently boost its growth. For starters, think of an easily recognizable name for the group that aligns with what you do, and what your audience does. For me, creating a group called Content Strategy & Marketing was a winner.
One final Facebook group pro tip:
Be sure to set up a new member questionnaire that members must submit before they can join your FB group. It’s an easy way to filter spam and ask for people to sign up to your list (win, win).
Here’s how you can get to that: go to Manage Group > Edit Group Settings, then look for “Membership Requests” where you can click “Ask Questions.”
Here’s what my questions look like. Just two. In one, I thank them for joining my group and ask that they agree to the rules and not spam. In the other, I add an optional area where they can drop their email if they want to receive my new blogs each week.
2. Live Stream
Live streaming takes the power of video and boosts it x 100.
Every time I live stream, Facebook serves my content at the top of people’s feeds and sends my followers a push notification.
That’s HUGE, you guys. That’s better than almost any kind of “free perk” you get with any other platform. A push notification?! Directly on my ideal audience member’s phones?? It feels a bit like this…
But here’s the key of live streaming.
Plan your live streams—don’t just jump on randomly.
Secondly, I’ve seen my live streams work far better with a bit of prior planning.
Take it from me: I “jumped on” and did a live stream without any prior planning or announcement.
Bad idea. It fell flat with only 164 views.
My next live stream was three months later, but we approached it differently. We:
- Created a Facebook event for it
- Told my list
- Tied my book launch to it – made it a Facebook Live Book Launch party!
- Invited a huge influencer as a guest, the author of my new book’s foreword, Mark Schaefer
- Invited my communities (Twitter chat and Facebook group)
Planning made all the difference.
This event ended at 1.5k views and a ton of engagement.
Done right, live streaming is a great way to connect with your audience.
So, why do only 10% of B2Bs actually use live-streaming?
Not many people have taken advantage of live streaming, yet.
There is a REAL opportunity here! It would be a shame to miss a chance to stand out, don’t you think?
Live Streaming Pro Tip for Introverts that Hate Going Live
Hate the thought of live streaming? Do it for the first time with a guest!
It’s much more fun. I am an introverted writer by nature, not an on-camera person, and it took five years of doing content marketing before I considered doing live-streaming!
But, when I finally took the jump in late 2017, it turned out to be a great move. My first “yes” to live streaming was as a guest on Dr. Ai Addyson-Zhang’s show, then again on Madalyn Sklar’s #TwitterSmarter show.
On average, after I live-streamed, I saw my page increase in likes by at least 200 inside a week – every time.
Don’t be afraid to play around with live streaming and find what works for you. The ROI is huge.
Facebook Confirms that Live Video Shows Will Be Hot!
Mari Smith recently said on Facebook and confirmed that videos that a) people search for and visit a page to find, and b) videos that people consistently return to watch from the same publisher or creator week after week, will be hotter than ever and receive quite a bit of traction.
Mari quoted Facebook’s exact statement:
“Engaging videos that not only bring people together, but drive repeat viewership and engagement, will do well in News Feed.”
This is especially referring to planned, reoccurring Facebook Live shows. So, if you’re doing a live show, keep it up! If not, it might be time to think about starting one.
3. Blog Regularly
The power of blogging cannot be underestimated. Done right, it automatically boosts your site in the SERPs, nets you more inbound leads, and even drives sales from those leads.
Plus, it is one of the best foundational content publishing formats, where you can pull from and share your best content in all your communities – and it gives you something you’re excited to email your list about, every week.
Here’s the stats on the real power of blogging:
- Via data from 2015, companies who published 16 or more blog posts a month netted about 5x more leads than non-blogging companies.
- Plus, 1 in 10 posts are compounding, which means that the traffic they draw over time increases because of organic search.
We certainly don’t underestimate blogging here at Express Writers – our current success is mostly due to consistent blogging with high-quality standards.
Here’s how that works:
We started blogging in September 2012 on the Write Blog. We did it (and still do it) 3/4 times per week without fail.
And, since blogging is a cumulative effort, the great blogs we’ve written that have been out there for a while continue to build momentum.
Today, we rank organically for over 11,000 keywords on Google. Of those, over 400 are in the top 3 spots in the search results.
Needless to say, blogging regularly pays off. Add it to your resolutions and start aiming for the long-term returns.
4. Email Regularly
You don’t need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to content marketing.
Blogging and emailing aren’t going out of style anytime soon.
Half the world’s population still uses email.
Compare that to 25% of the world’s population who are on Facebook.
Email outdoes Facebook?! Yes. Wow.
But, you have to be REALLY careful these days when you email, because, more than ever, strong filters are set up (think Gmail’s automated Promotional label) to stuff branded emails out of sight.
One way to avoid being canned is to grow your list the right way.
This may seem simple, but… don’t automatically add everyone. Ask for signups in unique, interesting ways.
(How about an old typewriter at your place of business? …Anyone?)
How to grow your email list…
with an antique typewriter. pic.twitter.com/KYXF7wCPZA
— Andy Crestodina (@crestodina) December 9, 2017
Then, when you send emails, be informative. Fun. Engaging. Most importantly, segment and speak to your audience at their level. Don’t sell someone if they’re already sold (ouch)!
Segmenting + creativity is IN, and both are equally important.
Meanwhile, here are some extra tips to avoid those pesky spam filters:
- Keep your sender name recognizable (i.e. avoid something like “firstname.lastname@example.org” showing up in the “from” field.
- Choose an email service provider with a good reputation (don’t go with that cheap ESP to save a dime).
- Get certified as a trusted sender. There are good third-party companies, like ReturnPath, who award certification after reviewing your email practices.
5. Do Online Giveaways
Another activity you need to add to your 2018 resolutions list is online giveaways.
They’re a fun and effective way to build your list. Did I mention easy and inexpensive?
I recommend Rafflecopter for this.
It’s entirely free to do a basic giveaway on Rafflecopter’s free trial plan.
You’ll just need to know a few things:
- What you’re giving away (a book, branded shirt/mug, or freebie works well)
- How long the giveaway will run
- What action you want people to take to enter
We built up our list by 30 new members inside 7 days just by doing a really simple giveaway run through Rafflecopter. The exported list of all entries gave us everyone’s name and email, which we were able to import to our list in ConvertKit for email campaigns.
Bam. That’s how you kill two birds with one stone.
Recap: 5 Predicted High-ROI Content Marketing Activities for 2018
1. Start (and/or Build) a Community
2. Live Stream
3. Blog Regularly
4. Email Regularly
5. Do Online Giveaways
Your Focus: Community-Building Is the Pot of Gold in 2018
I think one of the most important aspects of online marketing in general for brands in 2018 will be focusing on community building.
Here’s why: Content shock is making it really hard for users to keep up with all the published content on the web.
For scope, I did a little investigating for a Scoop.It presentation I did recently. I looked at real-time stats from Worldometers and did the math:
Over 200,000 blogs are published every hour. No wonder people can’t keep up.
As content shock slams us with millions of pieces of content created daily, it is no longer enough to just post, create, and schedule. Marketers must show up for, and consistently engage live with, their tribe.
People are hungry for help sifting through the content noise. That can be a huge role for you in your community.
That’s how you build a strong community with members who listen to you.
Communities are powerful and worth their weight in gold for any brand. Anyone with any kind of budget can develop one, over time. No excuse is good enough to avoid building your own community in the coming year.
Take inspiration from a strong community we’ve built: #ContentWritingChat.
— Express Writers (@ExpWriters) December 12, 2017
From lively discussions during the weekly chat, it’s grown to include a Facebook group. Most participants engage with us ALL WEEK – not just during the chat sessions.
That’s a great takeaway from our experience: Get your communities to follow you to various hubs! Providing more ways to engage often snowballs, especially if you dedicate yourself to slow but steady growth in your community.
Check Off These New Year’s Resolutions and Make Your Content Fly
Yes, you should keep creating the best content you can in 2018.
Your other New Year’s Resolutions, however, should be all about helping your content reach its highest potential.
When your supporting actions serve your content, all of a sudden, you have a formula for major success.
So, jot these resolutions down and make them a priority in the new year.
2018, we’re ready for you.