22 years later after Bill Gates oh-so-famously declared that “content is king” back in 1996, the man is STILL on point.

In 2018, content is not only still king but it has also proven to be one of the top marketing trends of the year.

Even though industry experts forecasted the top movers and shakers of last year to be AI, AR/VR and the Internet of Things (IoT), good old content marketing managed to prove that you don’t always need the newest gadgets to grow your business.

While 2017 was a massive year for creating unique content, it was also about sharing content in even more creative ways.

As Kylie Jenner once said, “this is the year of just, like, realising stuff”.

What businesses and brands have realised is that regular ol' people now hold the power to influence their audience’s buying habits. That’s right folks, we are talking about influencer marketing, one of the OTHER biggest trends of 2018.

So whether you're a long-time content expert (like the man himself Bill Gates) or just new to the game, we’ve prepared a simple guide on the year’s top two hottest marketing trends - content marketing and influencer marketing.

 

Content Marketing

The key to successful content marketing lies directly in your style and strategy. After all, content marketing is all about coming up with unique ways to get your audience’s attention. It’s crucial to remember that even though pushing out large amounts of content can be great, your focus should be on quality and not just the quantity.

Your options for distributing that content nowadays are practically infinite: blogs, ebooks, social media, infographics, emails, face-to-face events, videos, webcasts, even podcasts. I think you get the idea!

You can try to conquer all of them, but rather than trying to do it all, think about what will work best for your business - and then do it really well.

It’s also important to really focus less on how many platforms you can pump your content into, but more on selecting a few good routes that are targeted right at your specific audience.

 

Goal Setting

Your first step should always be goal setting.

This step – which you can think about as the why – needs to come before your what - what you are creating.

This is where we can differentiate the effective marketers from their less successful counterparts.

What exactly are you trying to accomplish? Increase website traffic? Get some brand awareness? Who are you aiming to lure in? And of course, how will you implement the plan?

If you don’t know exactly where you want to go or what success looks like for your business, how could you possibly guide your content marketing strategy to success?

Your goal should lie somewhere in the crossroads of your target’s key interests and your business’s brand values. Content marketing is about so much more than just writing- it is about causing a behaviour change. This means that what you create has to always be valuable and have a serious purpose.

Setting up a content calendar and creating an awesome content strategy may seem like a fair amount of work, but when done right we can assure you its worth the investment.

Just remember, impulsiveness and content marketing go well together. It should be an extensive and effort-driven process. But trust me that when you take the time to create a solid plan and framework, you can significantly add to your traffic, lead gen, SEO and ultimately your sales.

One question we always hear is, "But what should I be writing about?!!".

I’m guessing you have a solid image of your ideal customer, so we suggest using tools such as Buzzsumo to identify what kind of content is hot in your niche or market. From this, you can take the trending content and improve on it. Use the themes present and give it your own ring… and it never hurts to have an opinion, as you are an expert after all, right? A few other tools we recommend are Google Trends, EpicBeat, and Quora.

 

Influencer Marketing

Nowadays, influencers come in all shapes and sizes.

We see the big celebrity influencers like the Kardashians, who have an absurd amount of followers, and we also have micro-influencers who have smaller audiences at just a few hundred strong.

What defines someone to be an influencer is, naturally, the influence said person has on their niche audience. Because influencers are usually seen as ‘specialists’ in their niche, they hold the power to impact buying habits.

In fact, a study by BrightLocal shows that 84% of consumers trust reviews online from a stranger just as much as they do recommendations from their friends. So if an influencer isn’t simple a stranger, but rather a figure that people respects and admire, just imagine how powerful their impact can be…

But before you begin any influencer marketing operations, it’s crucial that you have a really solid understanding of who your target demographic will be as well as the things that impact their buying decisions.

Now that you’ve outlined who your audience is, you need to recognise the goals you aim to achieve in your influencer marketing campaign, just as you do in content marketing.

Goals can include a number of things, such as a product launch, product promotion, content promotion or event promotion, just to name a few. Whenever possible, put tracking codes in place so that you are able to gain an understanding of as many tangible results as possible – we’re talking visits, introductions, mentions and leads.

Even when the end goal is usually sales, there are many different metrics you can look at that contribute to an end purchase. The metrics we suggest looking into for starters include referral traffic, increased engagement or your follower count and number of conversions.

While often overlooked, the key to an effective influencer marketing campaign is to work with influencers who have an engaged audience – don’t just focus on those with the highest follower count.

The simplest way to search for influencers (if you have some time up your sleeves) is by manually doing a hashtag search. Start by searching hashtags that are relevant to your market and niche, looking into ‘Top Posts’ in specific.

Another handy trick is looking at your competitors, who they follow, and follow the rabbit hole from there. We also suggest trying various IM software and platforms. The great thing about these services is they do the work for you if you don’t have time to go adventuring through Instagram accounts manually. Using these platforms is also a great way to get a better understanding of how authentic an influencer's audience and, well, influence are.

These days it’s pretty common to see people buying followers, so you want to be sure that you are actually paying to get in front of a relevant, engaged audience, and not just bots other that will never be buying your product.

 

So no matter what industry you are in or what your marketing goals are, Content Marketing and Influencer Marketing have proven to be powerful tools that cannot be ignored.

If this guide helped get the marketing wheels turning in your head, don’t worry, we’ve got plenty more where that came from, so watch this space.