Content Marketing: Five Trends For 2017

by Polly Allen Inspiring Interns

In a world where we’re surrounded by media messages, it feels like a challenge to break through the noise and let your content marketing stand out against the competition. What you need are the latest trends, ensuring your marketing strategy gets you ahead of the rest.

Using Down-To-Earth Stories

Whilst many consumers use social media to follow their idols and source aspirational content, expect a backlash in 2017 against all-too-perfect lifestyle gurus and marketing narratives. Yes, people still want advice on what to wear, eat or do, but they want it to be realistic, and their idols should be relatable. That means confessional content – for example, being honest about embarrassing moments as a parent, or opening up about fashion mistakes.

Ed Silk, writing for The Drum, says media-savvy ‘gen real’ (or Gen Z) consumers require a new approach: ‘brand narratives need to evolve to become simpler, more frank and honest’. Therefore, when you’re working with social media influencers, it’s time to seek out those who aren’t afraid to be upfront and show their flaws: for starters, check out the likes of Honest Mum, or try fashion and lifestyle blogger Hannah Gale.

You’ll find their confessional blog posts or Instagram posts prove popular, because relatable content makes people want to share. It reveals a real human side to the figures people idolise, which reflects well on your brand, too.

Disclosing Sponsored Content

This may sound daunting, but consumers increasingly want to know when they’re reading a piece of marketing, so they don’t feel cheated by a media outlet or influencer. Writing ‘advertorial’ in tiny letters may have been the norm in newspapers for years, but it’s not ok now.

Meanwhile, some celebrities are known for bending advertising guidelines to suit their sponsorship deals – such as not adding #spon or #ad to an Instagram post or tweet – and, whilst these figures have been warned about non-disclosure of adverts, many ordinary bloggers feel they are facing harsher crackdowns from the Advertising Standards Agency than their famous counterparts.

Whoever you’re working with, if you’re paying them to promote your content, this needs to be clear. Great content will remain great, and also useful, regardless of this disclosure, and consumers will respect you more.

Going Live

AJ Agrawal, writing for Forbes, is one of many marketers embracing the potential of live streamed content. His advice? ‘Try to think of some new, creative, even crazy ways to use Facebook Live’. If you’ve got a Gen Y or Gen Z customer base that uses Snapchat, this is another medium to experiment with.

A few years ago, brands were finding audiences via Google Hangouts, but Google+ has never reached its full potential. Facebook Live, however, is being used creatively by all kinds of brands and publishers to stream high-profile events and reach out to potential customers. Hubspot has a selection of the best examples, including Benefit, Grazia magazine and Tough Mudder.

Before you go live, you’ll need to establish guidelines with your brand so the recording doesn’t go off topic or jar with consumer values. That means getting the right presenter and setting for an event, and using the right kind of language.

Being Inclusive And Diverse

Diversity feels like an overused buzzword these days, but ignore it at your peril. There’s no one-size-fits-all customer, and it’s lazy to rely on generic images or case studies to reach a varied audience, whatever your brand.

For example, a travel company shouldn’t be exclusively working with white female travel bloggers who post poolside bikini shots, when there are so many others in the blogosphere and in their customer base. What about representing the black travel community, or LGBT travellers who may worry about finding a hotel that accepts them sharing a room with their partner? And why not give disabled travel bloggers, 60+ travellers or single parents a voice?

It’s naïve to assume your customers are all the same race, gender, age and sexuality, and that they’re all married with 2.4 children. Drill down into your brand’s web analytics, talk to customer services, and see how you could diversify your marketing; this could also give you some new campaign ideas for search engine optimisation.

Letting Visuals Dominate

Search Engine Journal reported that 35 per cent of marketers plan to spend over a third of their budget on visual marketing in 2017; 60.8 per cent of marketers said visual content was an ‘absolutely necessary’ part of their strategy for the year ahead. That’s because they know visuals work.

Not everyone creates visual content in-house, but it pays to do it properly if you’re outsourcing the work. Either way, have a clear outline of what you want to achieve, whether that means stunning but uncluttered infographics (yes, infographics are still a thing) or a really engaging video.

Whilst it’s great to keep an eye on the competition and learn from them, don’t plagiarise another company’s idea or use someone’s image without permission; your campaign should be as individual and trustworthy as your brand. For more insight, Kissmetrics even found some possible law issues with marketing; though their post applies to American laws, it makes interesting reading for marketers anywhere in the world.

Now you know the trends to implement, it’s time to ace your content marketing strategy for 2017.


Polly Allen writes for Inspiring Interns, which offers graduate careers advice on tap, and a graduate recruitment agency to track down a candidate’s ideal internship. Use their graduate jobs listings to find the latest roles.