5 Practical Trends in Brand Content Marketing for 2016

5 practical trends in brand content marketing

It’s time for 2016 brand content marketing trends.

January brings a sense of hope, a fresh start. That’s why we make resolutions, in the hope that we’ll improve in 2016.

I like New Year’s resolutions, but then I’m weird.

Now I know every thought-leader, in every industry puts trends out this time of year.

That’s why I waited a week or so to deliver mine.

I wanted to take an extra week or two to digest the marketing ecosystem. There is only one constant in brand content marketing… change.

Instead of rushing to get my 2016 trends out before everyone else, I’ve waited, in an effort to provide you with as accurate and as practical a list of 2016 content marketing trends as I possibly could have.

Why “practical?”

Because I hate trends that are really three years out, but sound sexy to spout off about today.

Because I hate trends that only serve as a luxury.

Because I hate trends where the juice isn’t worth the squeeze.

Too many thought-leaders write trends posts to sound smart.

I’m writing this trends post to help you grow your business, big or small, old or new.

Build off the 4 C’s of beginner content marketing with these five 2016 trends and you’ll position your business for digital growth.

No doubt.

brand content marketing trends sketch

Sketchnotes for video…

2016 Brand Content Marketing Trends

Here are five practical trends for your brand that will get the message out and reach more of the customers you want in 2016.

Watch the video version of this list below or keep reading…

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1) Content Syndication

The first brand content marketing trend is content syndication.

Creating new pieces of content is a lot of work. Creating the volume of content yourself, necessary to stand out is almost impossible (See Content Shock).

Instead, why not create one piece of content and find nine different ways to distribute that piece of content?

People don’t want to leave the little ecosystems they visit every day.

If someone’s a LinkedIn person, they don’t want to leave LinkedIn. If someone’s a Facebook person, they don’t want to leave Facebook. Same goes for message boards (i.e Quora, Inbound.org), e-mail and messenger apps like Snapchat.

Whichever ecosystem your consumer lives in, you need to find a way to get your content into that space.

Here is one example of what that process might look like:

1) Record an audio file for a podcast,

2) Get it transcribed and format into blog post,

3) Turn the audio into a video (Kinetic typography videos are cool),

4) Chop up sub-heads in LinkedIn Publisher posts,

5) Expand upon an entrepreneurial, start-up or life lesson from the post for medium,

6) Re-post as a Facebook note,

7) Create an infographic,

8) Develop a Slideshare,

9) Re-work and expand content then pitch as a guest post.

Now one idea, one concept, has become many, many more.

This is an easy and effective way to provide content that is valuable to your audience while easily digestible in their prefered format.

I’ve seen this accomplished well by solopreneurs, small businesses, all the way up into big brands.

In truth, big brands are not doing this enough.

SEE ALSO: 5 Content Marketing Tactics the Connected Generation Can’t Resist

2) SEO Matters Again

The second brand content marketing trend is, SEO matters again.

Long tail search is an incredibly powerful way of attracting targeted attention.

According to The Media Briefing, “when the paper (Globe and Mail) analyzed its online traffic, they found that fully 40 percent of the paper is read by fewer than 1,000 people.

What if that content was optimized for search? What is Google searchers became “readers” by stumbling upon the content over time?

I smell opportunity.

We’re not thinking for search like we used to. Social media is the marketer’s heroin. With the twist of an algorithm our social referral traffic can be lost forever.

Your search optimized (with corresponding human value) content is at far less risk of drastic traffic reductions.

Forget about catchy, witty headlines and focus on long tail search.

This doesn’t mean every piece of content must be written for Google bots.  Our evergreen content must be optimized for search.

Spend some time in the content you’ve already written, I bet there is plenty of long tail search opportunity waiting for simple rewrite.

SEE ALSO: The Four C’s of Beginner Content Marketing

3) Live Streaming Video

The third brand content marketing trend is live video.

Everyone talking about live video.

By live video, I mean live streaming video. But as Michael Stelzner says, let’s call it live video so everyone understands.


Live video, done well, should provide an authentic and transparent view into the world of the people and brands we’re most interested in.

Platforms like Periscope, Blab and now Facebook Live create direct, real time access from anywhere. The opportunity for behind-the-scenes content, the type which generate intimate and enthusiastic relationships, (the True Fans we discussed in my book Content Warfare), is unprecedented.

Here is an example discussed my new podcast with Marcus Sheridan, The Hot Seat:

Putting together this week's Hot Seat Podcast episodes.

Posted by Ryan Hanley on Saturday, January 9, 2016

The live interviews and talking head shows are great, but the opportunity I see for brands is behind-the-curtain access. That rare moment where the CEO comes down to mingle on the office floor, the discussion inside an editorial cut room or simply a walk through the factory floor.

These “authentic” moments can staged.  The audience will eventually figure that out. However, create a culture of live video where employers are encouraged to capture these spontaneous moments (obviously with training) and the upside potential is limitless.

SEE ALSO: The Art of Professional Content Marketing

4) Unscalable Human Experiences

The fourth brand content marketing trend is unscalable human experiences.

This trend may sound crazy coming from a marketer.

unscalable human experiencesGrowth hacker marketing has everyone jacked out of their minds on scale, scale, scale.

In 2016, I see opportunities for people and brands in particular, to dial back and create human experiences, one singular person (or a small group) will never forget.

Your business is creating these unscalable human experiences today. You’re just not creating them on purpose and some are negative (think angry customer service calls).

It’s time we start strategically creating more positive human experiences.

We can’t do this with every one of our customers. The hard sell here is that we’re creating an army of True Fans one customer at a time.

How do we do it? We use automation to build touch points which create one-to-one communication.

Very few customers need to chat with someone in C-suite to feel connected to a brand. They just want to know there is human inside the box who cares about their happiness.

Creating unscalable human experiences isn’t a customer service call. It isn’t, “I’m angry about something with your product and I need you to fix it.”

This process is a proactive reach into your customer base, providing someone with an experience as simple as maybe it’s a Facebook direct message. Maybe it’s a phone call. Maybe it’s a card that didn’t come through some automated service.

Where can you build individual touches into your business?

Unscalable human experiences create the deeper connections with customers who potentially could become ambassadors for your business.

It’s a marketing method that will never have a clean ROI, but for trend, that shouldn’t matter.

SEE ALSO: Your Business is Not Ready for Self-Syndication

5) Breadcrumb Storytelling

The fifth brand content marketing is breadcrumb storytelling.

This last trend I stole this one from Mark Schafer, at least in part.

He’s calls them micro stories, I like to call breadcrumbs.

Here’s the idea. It’s similar in concept to content syndication, but slightly different.

You create one incredible story. Whatever that is. Whatever story needs to be told about your business. You create that story. Then you take tiny little pieces of content that tell just a portion of that story as teasers.

If we can break that larger story up into little pieces and share share them via the content syndication methods mentioned above, we essentially breadcrumbs for our audience to follow back to the larger piece of content.

We want to fit bit-sized pieces of content into the lives of our consumers at the time that they want to consume it. They don’t want the eight-minute video at 11:00am in the morning. They want the 35-second funny clip or outtake from that video that says, “Hey, bookmark this link so when you get home, you can watch the full version of this.”

Think about how we position our content to people at the time, in the method or format that they want to view it in that specific moment.

SEE ALSO: Maybe the Blog Isn’t Dead. Maybe.

The Rub

For great 2016 content marketing trends, check this post from Shane Snow.

All these trends are incredibly easy to implement.

There is not a huge technology need, just a little strategic thinking.

Deliver this to your audience. Educate, entertain, and inspire them to become true evangelists of your business and growth is the only outcome.

I know you can do it.

I love delivering my trends every year.

I hope you have a tremendous 2016.

If you need help making 2016 tremendous, you can reach me for speaking at your next event here or something more (content strategy, coaching) here.

Thank you,

I am Ryan Hanley

P.S. Don’t miss the Sunday Seven.

image credit: giphy.