Marketing Best Practices

5 Types of Content Marketing to Test in 2016

By Ashley Taylor Anderson November 17, 2015

Holy crap, it’s already mid-November. And that means 2016 is just a few weeks away.

Before the new year starts, I always like to dream big about what I want to learn, do, and experience over the next 365 days. This is true for my personal life as well as my professional life. For example, here are a few of my bucket list items for 2016:

  • See at least 5 metal concerts.
  • Take at least one vacation to a foreign country.
  • Find a way to combine my love of content marketing and graphic novels.
  • Start doing research for my first marketing book.

If you’re in end-of-year planning mode, you may also be thinking about what new types of content to throw into the mix. Here are 5 up-and-coming formats to test out for your marketing program after the Auld Lang Synes have faded.

1. Live-Streaming Video

Live Streaming Video

All the cool kids are live-streaming video… but if peer pressure isn’t a great motivator for you, then let’s talk about it from a sheer audience perspective. These stats are hard to ignore:

  • 45 million people watch Twitch.tv live broadcasts each month.
  • Periscope now has 10 million monthly active users.
  • Meerkat hit 2 million monthly active users back in May 2015.
  • Blab.im just launched earlier this year, but it already has 2500 monthly active users.

What’s so appealing about live-streaming video? It’s the closest technology gets to emulating in-person conversations and viewing experiences. Unlike traditional video content, which involves a one-sided presentation that’s carefully scripted and produced, apps like Periscope and Blab invite viewers to participate in the moment.

Another benefit of this format? No tedious PowerPoint decks or scripts to prepare in advance. The point is to provide casual, unscripted entertainment or education for your audience. This minimizes the prep time for you considerably while still generating great content you can reuse at a later date.

2. Online Courses

Online Courses

Source: Clickminded SEO

The go-to educational format for content marketing programs is the webinar. There’s just one problem: Webinars suck.

Why do I think webinars suck? There are a number of reasons. They always start late. There’s usually at least one technical glitch during the presentation. Presenters often read their slides word for word, or show content that’s totally unrelated to what they’re talking about. And there’s usually very little time for questions at the end.

While I’ve used webinars as a lead gen tactic in the past, I’ve never thought of them as especially valuable from a content perspective. I do sign up for a few webinars a month; I skip most of them, or end up bailing a few minutes in when I do make time to attend.

An alternative content format that most marketing teams aren’t using is online courses. With tools like Teachable, Versal, and Schoolkeep, it’s easy to create thoughtfully designed, curated educational content in snackable video and text lectures. The course author can manage Q&A in an asynchronous fashion, and end users can consume the content whenever it’s convenient for them. It’s a much better learning experience all around than a webinar.

Since people still have to enroll in the course to access content, it’s a great lead gen tool for your business. You can even release lectures as serial installments to keep viewers engaged over a long period of time—which you can’t do with a single webinar.

3. Interactive Content

Source: Red Bull

Interactive content has been a hot buzzword in the marketing industry this year, and all signs point toward its continued growth in 2016. Armed with interactive content creation platforms that eliminate the need for custom coding and endless QA rounds, marketers are rethinking the way they tell stories for their brands. Using rich media, animations, interactions, and layers of information, they’re able to create more visual, engaging content that stands out in a sea of static assets.

As marketers begin to invest in interactive content tools and experience ROI from creative brand storytelling, we’ll start to see static eBooks and infographics become less prominent. Video content will likewise become more customized and flexible with branching and clickable elements. And quizzes & assessments will become part of a sophisticated feedback loop that informs other content marketing efforts instead of just a quick-hit engagement tactic.

4. Long-form Social Media Content

Long Form Social Content

Source: Dave Charest / Facebook

Social media platforms historically have been all about short posts and comments. In recent years, however, they’ve expanded to accommodate long-form content as well. From LinkedIn Pulse to Facebook Instant Articles to Medium to Twitter’s rumoured character limit removal, social networks are encouraging their users to publish original editorial content on their platforms. If you haven’t experimented with any of these channels yet, 2016 is the year to do it.

5. Serialized Content

Networkers

Source: Vidyard

Driving repeat engagement is a key challenge for most content marketing programs. Serialized content, when done well, can help sustain excitement within your audience and keep prospects and customers coming back for more content over time. Obviously, Hollywood has caught onto this tactic—think of how many frickin’ sequels have come out in recent years. When you find a story that works, then keep the story going.

Serialized videos have been highly popular—think Hiscox’s Leap Year or AT&T’s The Networkers—but you could also have a serial podcast, article series, cartoon strip, or comic. Let your creativity run wild and try something different!

The Bottom Line

In this brave new world of content marketing overload, the brands who will succeed in 2016 are the ones who tell the most interesting stories using the most innovative formats. These 5 types of content can help you connect with your audience in new ways that keep them engaged.

What other content types would you add to the list to try in 2016? Tell me in the comments before you go.

For even more content marketing tips, check out our Brand Storytelling & Technology interactive experience.

Brand Storytelling eBook