7 Content Marketing Trends to Watch in 2016

Social Media Week

2015 is coming to an end, and as we look ahead to next year, it’s important we examine which trends and shifts in business, and specifically content marketing, are on the horizon. From mobile SEO to virtual reality, here are seven trends to watch.

17 days until 20,000+ global leaders come together for SMW November 14-18. Learn more here.

The end of 2015 is approaching quickly, and now is a great time to think about what is coming down the pike in 2016 where social media marketing is concerned. As marketing directors are busily designing their strategies for 2016, they must consider the marketing trends that are going to have the biggest impact on their efforts. It looks as if 2016 will bring in a mix of new trends along with the continuation of some trends that began in 2015.

If you are in the midst of developing your social media marketing strategy for next year, why not take a moment to review these 7 social media marketing trends to watch in 2016.

1. Mobile First Will Become the Norm

This forecast shows the number of smartphone users in the U.S. from 2010 to 2018. For 2016, the number of smartphone users in the United States is estimated to reach 198.5 million. Source

Until recently, content, app, and web development strategy has focused primarily on the needs of the desktop user with mobile being an afterthought. In 2015, there was a noticeable shift in this line of thinking with many companies moving towards a mobile first mindset. This shift was largely due in part to the sharp increase in the number of mobile users, and the increasing amount of mobile visitors to websites. More mobile users than ever, are using their devices to:

  • Browse Social Media
  • Access News and Entertainment
  • Research Products and Make Purchases
  • Use Navigational Apps
  • Communicate with Others
  • View Visual Content Including Videos
  • Post Comments and Reviews

This will only increase in 2016, making it a near impossibility for marketing strategists to avoid focusing on mobile next year, especially touchscreen.


2. There Will be a Focus Shift in SEO to Social Media

There is a slowly developing change in user behavior when it comes to searching out information on products and services. While using search engines to find information is still the most common behavior, there are many users who are skipping the search engine and performing their searches directly on social media.

There are a couple of different reasons that this happening. First, consumers know that they are more likely to find visual content if they search on social media, and to them, this content is far more trustworthy than text heavy content.

The other reason is that consumers value feedback from others, and they know they are more likely to find reviews and comments on social media content than they will in other places. This means that marketing strategy must move beyond “How can I get found on Google?” to “How can I get found on Google and social?

3. Facebook will Dominate However Their Audience Will be Older

I’ll start off by saying that any suggestion that Facebook is losing relevance is entirely false. As long as Facebook continues adding new functionality and tightening up security, it will remain the dominant social media platform for the near future. In fact, one of Facebook’s innovations is the driving factor behind one of our social media marketing trends for next year (more on that later).

Having said that, it must be acknowledged that younger consumers are tending to use other social media platforms to interact with one another and consume content. For some brands, this change will have little to no impact on their marketing strategies. For others, however, this could be a deciding in factor in whether or not they should focus on other social media platforms, especially those focused on students.

4. Digital Marketing Efforts will Increase on Newer Social Media Sites

As mentioned above, the aging of the Facebook audience is one factor driving this change. However, it is not the only factor. Until recently Snapchat and Instagram have been regarded as mediums for users to communicate with one another and to share personal content. Most marketing directors didn’t see either platform as a viable place for their content marketing efforts, especially when it has been so lucrative to focus on more established platforms such as YouTube and Facebook. This will change quickly as we move into 2016.

Instagram is now providing advertising opportunities to a wider circle of brands, and the Snapchat Story is already proving to be a great branding tool. Moving into the future, it is likely that marketers will be less timid when it comes to marketing on new platforms.

5. New Options for Publishing Content Online Will Open up Thanks to Instant Articles

In quarter one of this year, Facebook launched Instant Articles. This technology allows publishers to instantly and constantly publish streaming content to Facebook. Essentially, the company’s content management system interfaces directly with Facebook and can seamlessly publish new content as it is ready for release.

When instant articles launched, it was limited to nine major publishers including the New York Times, NBC News, and BuzzFeed. Since that time, other big publishing houses have been invited into the fold. Now, Facebook appears to be opening up Instant Articles even more by inviting publishers to contact them for information about becoming Instant Articles publishers. The possibility is very real that Instant Articles will be even more accessible by end of year 2016.

Competition from other social media platforms to keep up with Facebook in this space will also benefit the marketing efforts of small to mid sized businesses. One example of this is the Snapchat story. Individual users are using this feature to tell stories of their experiences, but many brands are also incorporating Snapchat stories in their efforts to reach out to their base.

6. User Expectations for Content Quality Will Soar

As the popularity of inbound marketing increases, so does the amount of content available to consumers. This availability will continue to result in high expectations when it comes to quality and when it comes to the variety of content offerings. Smart content creators will factor in users’ preference for video and image over text, their preference for informative and useful content over blatant sales efforts, and their preference for custom content over shared content. It is important to note that these preferences exist in the B2B sector as well as the B2C sector.

7. Oculus Rift will Change The Way That Marketers Design the Customer Experience

In spite of the fact that it is not coming to market until early in 2016, the possibilities that come with Oculus Rift are already changing the ways in which marketing strategists are thinking in regards to interactive content and customer engagement.

Specifically, marketers who have largely ignored storytelling as a means of reaching consumers will find themselves racing to catch up, not only to begin using storytelling in their marketers but also to do it using 360 degree technology.

Julie Ellis

Chief Editor, PremierEssay


About the author: Julie Ellis – experienced freelance writer, marketer and passionate traveler. As a business writer, she’s been featured on such websites as Business2Community, SocialMediaToday, jeffbullas.com and others. When she’s not engaged in helping her customers and students, you can find her reading articles and books of young writers and attending marketing conferences. Follow Julie’s Twitter and Google+ to learn more about academic and business writing skills.

Want to write for Social Media Week?

We're looking for individuals around the globe to contribute articles on marketing, media, technology, and more.