5 content marketing trends shaping the future of the industry.

Julian Mitchell

The convergence of media, marketing, and technology has redefined the mechanics of building brands in the modern world.

In a social era dominated by digital media, brands express their value and perspective through storytelling, making content the language brands use to communicate. Thus, the most impactful brands understand that content is more than a marketing strategy; it is also a tool to design consumer culture and build communities.

Instead of focusing efforts toward creating catchy tag-lines, crafting clever campaigns, or producing viral-worthy content, companies that thrive in today’s climate have mastered an ability to translate and directly impact the relationship between consumer culture and commerce.

This growing convergence has caused the media business to become the new advertising industry, the music business has become the new media industry, and advertising has evolved to become the new entertainment industry. These notable shifts have transformed the role of brands and creative agencies significantly. 

To help you navigate the changing landscape, here are five emerging trends shaping the future of content marketing.

1. The rise of podcasting.

Podcasting revenue hit a record $314 million in 2017, climbing a notable 86% from 2016.1 With an increasing number of voices and franchises breaking into the market, this total rose to surpass a staggering $600 million in 2020.

This upward trend signals to small business owners the importance of including audio storytelling in their content marketing strategy. Giving a definitive voice and perspective to your business, whether anchored by founders or powered by the brand, creates a more authentic and effective means to explore the conversations that matter to your target audience.

The podcasting space has shown such promise that top streaming services have launched dedicated verticals to develop original podcast programming, in addition to acquiring shows rapidly rising in popularity. This shift presents an opportunity for small business owners to:

  • Reach a broader audience
  • Produce original intellectual property
  • Create additional pathways to market products directly to consumers 

2. The rise of social entertainment.

It is no secret that social apps and short-form video are dominating the digital media space. For a mobile generation that enjoys curated entertainment experiences on demand, more small businesses are continuing to break ground in the social entertainment space through avenues such as:

  • Branded entertainment and original series
  • Live streaming
  • User-generated content

The power of visual storytelling and real-time engagement has transformed social media platforms into modern entertainment networks. The emergence of social entertainment has empowered entrepreneurs, creators, and small business owners to intentionally turn their timelines into entertainment channels.

Small business owners can leverage this trend by independently producing and socially distributing live, episodic, and user-generated programming across Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok. By shifting the way they view and use social media, business owners can create smart and impactful content that builds community and generates real engagement with consumers. 

3. The rise of influencers.

As social media continues inspiring and spreading the latest viral trends, the logic is simple: content drives conversations, conversations fuel culture, and culture fuels commerce. At the forefront of cultural trends are influencers — creators, entrepreneurs, and segment experts who have developed and engaged with very loyal audiences of consumers. 

In 2016, 86% of marketers used an influencer strategy to reach consumers, earning an estimated $6.50 for every $1 invested, with 71% of consumers making purchasing decisions based on social media references.2 In 2020, influencer marketing had evolved to become an estimated $10 billion global industry.3

Using targeted influencer strategies is not limited to global brands with massive budgets. Small business owners can take advantage of this rising trend by focusing on micro-influencers and other credible voices that share an authentic cultural connection with their target audience.

A micro-influencer is someone who has somewhere between 1,000 to 100,000 followers, with a focus on a specific niche. They are typically seen as an expert or specialist in a given industry or topic. Small business owners can take advantage of influencers by launching collaborative content, campaigns, and products that offer influencers equity in the success of your brand.

4. Leveraging deep cultural connections.

The new class of entrepreneurs and small business owners is more cross-disciplinary than ever before. This means they are multi-hyphenates, people with a diverse set of skills, experiences, and perspectives that translates across industries.

In a time when authenticity is the greatest asset for small businesses seeking to connect with audiences, having such a unique vantage point empowers entrepreneurs to embrace their culture — their distinct set of values, interests, and influences — as a strength and leverage it to tell stories that develop deeper connections with consumer groups that share the same cultural identity.

Cultural capital is becoming more valuable than a dollar. This means that the exchange rate on influence is eclipsing the value of physical currency, making what you can access with this acquired cultural influence more expansive than what can be purchased by a physical dollar alone. Small business owners should be creating content that expresses their authentic cultural connection and tell stories that tap into their shared value systems.

5. Turning customer relationships into personal relationships.

Real-time consumer data has become the new gold rush for business owners and advertisers alike. For small business owners specifically, few things are more critical to success than building genuine and lasting relationships with loyal customers. As a result, business owners have been encouraged to invest larger portions of their budget into CRM tools that help better analyze, track, and target their primary audience.

Yet, as more small business owners see the value in building a direct-to-consumer model, companies are evolving from Customer Relationship Management (CRM) to Personal Relationship Management (PRM).

PRM tools focus on using mobile phone numbers to exchange messages and actively communicate with customers in real time. In addition to sharing social, video, and editorial content directly to a consumer’s pocket, PRM tools collect and remember key consumer data such as:

  • Name
  • Age
  • Location
  • Birthdate
  • Money spent with your brand

This insight eliminates the need to use third-party platforms for retargeting people who've already proven an interest in your brand.

Whether you aspire to remain a small business or grow into a top tech power, leading lifestyle brand, or consumer product giant, connecting with today’s consumer begins with understanding the nuances of your audience and successfully tapping into their beliefs and aspirations. Through this understanding, you can execute impactful content marketing to help build your brand.

Interested in T-Mobile for Business?