2017 saw online content creation absolutely explode, chiefly due to the increased ease which people can share new and interesting things with the world. Technical developments have made social content sharing accessible to all budgets and skill levels – for both businesses and individuals alike!
There are numerous ways in which the content creation sphere is looking up for business (wait – can a sphere look up?) so here are 10 elements that we feel small and micro businesses should keep an eye on in 2018.
Longer-form content such as blog posts and YouTube-style videos are usually a huge time-sink for smaller organisations. However micro-content might help bridge the gap between larger content releases. Micro-content consists of quick, digestible content such as images or video which aim for smaller, faster spikes of engagement. Try interspersing your regular social schedule with punchy, useful advice presented through image, video, or animation.
Utilise Video – Live or Otherwise
If you’re not creating video content for your company yet, the barrier to entry is now lower than ever. Though high-end cameras and professional lighting gear give a great appearance on YouTube, there’s simply no need for every small business to go full Spielberg. With the rise of live video streaming services such as Facebook Live, Instagram Live, and Twitter’s Periscope, it’s easier than ever to get your face and expertise in front of others, armed with just your smartphone. Identify which live social network your audience is most engaged on, and get that camera rolling!
Optimise for Voice Search
As voice-operated digital assistants such as Siri, Amazon Echo’s Alexa, and Google Home become more of a fixture in the average household, search is becoming more geared towards “whole question” queries. Rather than a 2- or 3-word search query, people are starting to search using full sentences – even when they’re sat in front of a computer. This more vernacular style could be revolutionary for online content creators, and could lead to more companies vying for featured snippet space, opting for a more “question and answer” style of blog writing, and long tail keyword optimisation could even extend to whole sentences. I suppose time will tell.
Start Planning and Strategising!
It’s time to stop throwing spaghetti at wall and seeing what sticks! Small business owners need to start planning content topics, formats, and campaigns ahead of time for maximum impact. A lot can be achieved by devising a plan of attack rather than flying by the seat of your e-pants. Consider the part that each piece of content plays within your marketing plan for the whole year; automate and schedule outreach elements; and always remember to analyse your successes or failures. Bringing us nicely to…
Measurement & Analysis
An important part of formulating a good strategy is taking a step back to see what works. All marketing efforts should follow a cycle of planning, strategising, measurement, and analysis. After all, there’s little point in trying new things unless you discuss whether they worked for you or not! Though marketing analysis has obviously been around for a while, but in 2018 small businesses simply can’t avoid examining their efforts any further.
Give Your Followers a Choice of Media
Due to the ubiquity of online content, we’re all developing set tastes when it comes to types of media we like to consume. Some people like to read blogs, but some would prefer to listen to the same content in an audio podcast format. Others may prefer to have that content’s important points presented as an infographic or video animation. Provide a selection of media choices wherever you can – especially when it comes to your most popular content. Using alternative formats can also be a good idea for bringing older content up to date.
Diversify Your Social Media Portfolio
If you’ve been putting off joining Instagram, or you’ve been eyeing-up Pinterest for a while, it might be time to jump on in – providing you can afford the time to do so. Signing up to every social network under the sun is still not a great idea, but it’s incredibly easy to get stuck in a rut with social media. Finding new and interesting audiences elsewhere could be just the shot in the arm your social efforts need. To follow on from the above idea of giving people a choice of content, it might also benefit you to provide a wider selection of places to find you online too.
Consider Guest Blogging for Backlinks
With the increased emphasis on link building in SEO recently, guest blogging is being talked about more and more. The basic premise is that you write a blog post for someone else’s website, in which you link back to your own website, providing you with a high-quality backlink from their website. The process usually involves them doing the same in return. A backlink from a well-performing site can help improve your search visibility, but above all it’s a great opportunity to build relationships with fellow experts and to build visibility for both brands collaboratively.
Permission-Only Direct Marketing
This one’s less of a trend and more of a legal requirement. It’s common knowledge that companies should only send marketing materials to those who have actively subscribed. But let’s be honest, we’ve all received marketing bumf in the past that we’ve not signed up for – either by email or through the post. Thankfully this should come to an end this year as the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) comes into force. From the 25th May, permission to receive any direct marketing needs to be given freely and willingly by all recipients through a clear, positive, and auditable action. Companies may be fined if they assume consent through inactivity or pre-ticked boxes, and must make it easy for people to opt out at any time.
Sidenote: Though this is one of the more notable ways that the GDPR will affect businesses, it is by no means the only change that businesses will have to prepare for. Check out our article about GDPR and the ICO’s guidance on the matter.
Get Into the Flow with Drip Campaigns
Drip campaigns (multi-part email campaigns that deliver or “drip” instalments over time) are no longer just the bastion of companies with large marketing budgets. Through platforms like MailChimp and MailerLite, email automation is becoming more accessible to those on the smaller end of the scale. Drip campaigns can be set up to simply deliver one email after another, but can also be configured to personalise content, segment subscriber groups, and behave differently depending on certain inputs; resulting in a more polished and tailored experience for the subscriber.Check out these 10 trends that we feel #smallbusiness owners should consider in 2018! Click To Tweet
What content plans have you got in mind for 2018? Are you pondering any of the suggestions on this list? Are there any you feel we’ve skipped? We’d love to hear your input down in the comments!