graphic of the word #trending

It’s no secret companies continue to increase their inbound marketing efforts with a new sense of commitment and creativity. Trends emerge and evolve. Here’s the scoop on what trends are leading in 2016.

Visual Content is Driving Social Media

graphic of eyeball with lightbulb as irisWe have all heard that “content is king” but let’s face it, not all content is created equal. When we dig in to the data it becomes immediately apparent that visual content is the reigning monarch. Considering the way people process information is a key component in understanding the impact visuals have on social media and why visual content is a must for every content marketing strategy. Check these statistics from Buzzsumo:

  • Facebook articles with a single image were shared 64.9x on average, vs. 28x  for those without an image
  • Posts uploaded on Facebook with a thumbnail were shared 56x, while those with no thumbnail just 17.7x
  • Tweets that featured a thumbnail were shared 20.36 x, those without a thumbnail only 9.67x

graphic of video cameraVideo Content is Essential

It’s quite clear that video content has been a leading trend over the past several years. YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Vine and Twitter all support video so it has become super simple for companies to produce and syndicate them. People simply prefer to watch a short video than to read. As a visual medium, they are very effective at clearly communicating a lot of information quickly and efficiently. Any doubts? Just check out these stats:

  • 96% of consumers find videos “helpful” in making purchasing decisions  (via Animoto)
  • US Adults spend an average of 5 1/2 hours watching videos daily (via eMarketer)
  • Videos are shared 1200% more times than links and text combined (via Orion 21)
  • 59% of senior executives prefer to watch video instead of reading text (via Forbes)
  • When both text and video are on the same web page, 69% of people watch the video to learn about a product or service (via Wyzowl)
  • The average user spends 105% more time on a website with video (via Brightcove)
  • Visitors who view videos stay on web sites an average of 2 minutes longer than those who do not. They are also 64% more likely to make a purchase (via ComScore)
  • Landing pages with video have a conversion rate greater than 80% (via EyeView Digital)
  • Companies using video require 37% fewer unique site visits to generate a marketing response (via Aberdeen)
  • 1 in 4 consumers actually lose interest in a company if it doesn’t have video (via Animoto)
  • 70% of marketing professionals believe that video converts better than any other medium (via MarketingProfs)

People Love Interactivity

People are increasingly looking for an interactive interface where they sense some kind of influence over the resulting experience. Users are drawn to quizzes, polls, calculators, webinars, calls to action and interactive infographics all  encourage direct involvement.

cartoon of man holding a sign that says quizA few quick stats from Qzzr:

  • The average quiz gets 1,900 social shares
  • The top 3 quizzes from the past 10 months were shared 1 million times
  • Quizzes have a 78% completion rate & 82% click-to-conversion rate
  • The 2015 Content Preferences Survey from Demand Gen found that 91% of B2B buyers want brands to offer more interactive and visual content for on-demand consumption. In fact, 45% say interactive presentations are highly valuable when researching purchases.

User Generated Content Campaigns (USG) Can Make a Big Impact

Encouraging your audience to contribute content for your brand has a significant benefit in terms of generating fresh new content but their involvement has the psychological advantage of engaging users and converting them to advocates for your brand. We are seeing an increase in social media based contests, surveys, ratings, wikis and forums. Check these stats:

  • sign says user engagement59% of millennials say they use IGC to make decisions about electronics purchases, 54% for auto purchases, 53% major appliances and 53% for mobile phones (Crowdtap)
  • 70% of consumers place peer recommendations and reviews above professionally written content. (Reevoo)
  • Pinterest pin creation is up 75%, Twitch video broadcasts are up 83%, Wattpad stories are up 140%, and Airbnb reviews are up 140% year-over-year. (Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers)
  • Consumers between the ages of 25 and 54 are contributing 70% of all UGC. (SparkReel)
  • 25% of search results for the world’s 20 largest brands are links to user-generated content. (Kissmetrics)
  • 86% of millennials say that user-generated content is generally a good indicator of the quality of a brand or service. (Bazaarvoice)

symbol for podcastPodcasting is More Popular Than Ever!

Who would have guessed that with the rapid rise in video content podcasts would be increasingly more popular? It is easy to publish and integrates effectively into a variety of media formats. But what is the appeal? Two years ago podcasts were being listened to on desktop and laptop computers but today it is driven by mobile.

  • 64% of podcasts are consumed on smartphones and tablets. In other words, podcasts are perfect for commuters in cars and public transportation, during workouts at the gym and other environments where computers are impractical.
  • Podcast audiences actually grew 23% between 2015 and 2016. 21% of Americans have listened to podcasts in the past month, up from 17% last year.

There is substantial room for growth though, especially with an older audience. Only 11% of Americans over age 55 listen to podcasts monthly.  While there are demands for some level of technological knowledge something as simple as a rebranding such as “on demand radio shows” may open this gateway for seniors. Regardless of branding the format is certainly amenable to reaching new niche audiences and its increasing availability will inevitably lead to more listeners in every market segment.

Summing Up

So there you have it. The numbers speak volumes (l mean that quite literally). Within a year these trends may have morphed into something unfamiliar or faded away completely. This is what we know now so I will most assuredly  be advising my clients to target at least one of these trends. While these waters have been well charted for the short term no one will fault you for taking a different path — make sure it is measurable though before claiming you’ve defined the next big thing!