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6 Emerging Content Marketing Trends Every Start-up Needs to Know in 2018 The consumption of podcasts has been steadily growing to mainstream levels

By Saurabh Kanwar

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There has never been a better time to be in a consumer business. Social media and other technologies have already radically rejuvenated marketing from artistic exploration to scientific craftsmanship. That shift, however, is just a prologue to the tectonic transformation being hinted at by the emerging trends:

Content = Video

It is now amply clear that consumers love videos. And now, with Facebook unfriending branded static posts in a big way, the frenzied publishing of generic updates and recycled web-content is becoming as old-fashioned as Orkut (remember that one?).

You should definitely put some form of engaging video on your content marketing to-do list. In fact, if you have the time, real-time video is strongly emerging as an interesting way to humanize your business. The current playbook is Facebook Live for big announcements, Instagram Live for an intimate, behind-the-scenes feel.

Straight Talk With Audio

The consumption of podcasts has been steadily growing to mainstream levels. Audio is way easier to produce than video and has definitely more story-telling ability and engagement compared to text, so it makes a terrific content marketing tool. Start a podcast of your own, one that you can sustain at a regular pace.

If it is premature to build your own audio content at the moment, there is also a thriving podcast scene which reaches deep into influential communities. That makes for a great place to introduce your products through editorial/PR and ads to early adopters that are usually hard to target otherwise.

Do Less, But Regularly

In deep contrast to the prolific AstroTurf of last year's hygiene posts, the manicured social media pages of brands these days are being increasingly populated with richer, cooler content that engages, and even entertains before it tries to sell anything. To fill your sales funnel with leads, today's content marketing needs a mix of old-school brand thinking, digital production house efficiency and the content programming and distribution chops of a TV channel. If you have an agency that can do that, hold on to them for dear life.

Meanwhile, don't waste energy and cash to create your basic content; do that in-house. You only need a little, so between the founders, the product peeps, and your intern/nephew, it can be done. Powerpoint is good enough to assemble the posts, you don't even need Photoshop. Or, more realistically, you can use tools like Canva that make available, free of cost, zillions of easy-to-use templates for all social needs.

Transparency

A lot has already been said about millennials and their impact on business, especially start-ups. It bears repeating one important fact: consumers today are wary of the corporate-speak, obfuscation and dehumanization of giant enterprises.

When a young business demonstrably takes the high road, acknowledging limitations, taking responsibility for its actions, consumers reward this radical honesty with patronage and amplification. If that's your thing and you are able to communicate that honestly in your content, you are on your way to winning their hearts, and hopefully, wallets.

Post-millennials

There are many names for the cohort that comes after the millennial: Generation Z, post-millennials, the iGeneration. What is not in doubt is that they are different from the millennials. Even if you aren't targeting these under-17s, you may not want to ignore them. Gen Z are always connected, they are massive consumers of content, and more important, massive sharers.

For anyone in the content-marketing game then, these are the eyeballs to reach if 'going viral' is one of your KRAs (Key Responsibility Areas). If you can find a bridge from your content to their worlds, your media-buying budgets will thank you.

The Bots are Coming

If you are already weary around the hype about artificial intelligence (AI), you may want to. There are so many parts of the content that are being radically transformed: chatbots that understand regular English instead, speakers that can book an Ola cab with a verbal order, phones that pre-empt your needs. Coming soon, reality that can be augmented. And this power is available off-the-shelf to anyone with a credit card. Make sure you are considering your AI opportunities carefully. At the very least, it will make most VCs instantly love you.

Saurabh Kanwar

Co-founder, ATKT.in

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