As it’s the end of another eventful year, your inbox and social media feeds are probably full of posts highlighting the hottest predictions for 2022.
While it’s really important to think of the future and keep an eye on the key trends that are expected to shine through in the year ahead, it is just as important to reflect upon the previous 12 months and what they have taught us.
In this episode of The Content 10x Podcast, I take a step back and review some stand-out moments in the content marketing world from 2021.
Press play to find out what they are…
Or keep reading as I share some of my key observations.
Content keeps us connected
Digital content has done more than just entertain us during times of isolation; there were moments where I felt like content helped us stay connected.
I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that while 2021 was another year where, for the majority of it, I couldn’t travel to events, speaking engagements, business meetings or even just to meet people in person for whatever reason (did we really used to do that?!), content has helped bridge those gaps. It did that for us as well as our clients, and I know the same goes for many other people too.
In this time, we saw a spike in new podcasts, video channels, and blog posts.
Whether they’re seasoned content creators or newcomers to the scene, more and more people were joining in on the fun and they started investing more time in creating content.
For some people, it was because they had more time on our hands while for others, it was just because it was a fun way to stay connected with everyone else in the world.
A really cool and inspiring example of this is definitely the Welsh trio who started their podcast The Socially Distant Sports Bar back in March 2020...I know I should be talking strictly about happenings that took place in 2021, but this year saw the podcast reach new heights – we’re talking a TV show on BT Sport!
How many podcasts can say they’ve done that?
Like many of our It Started With Content case studies, it just shows you what incredible things you can achieve when you embrace content.
B2B marketing was bigger than ever
This year, content marketing continues to be lauded among B2B marketers.
Last year, a study by Statista found that 46% of B2B companies planned on increasing their content marketing spend in 2021. Whilst only 4% of respondents planned to slow down their spending. This goes to show that content marketing still has a high potential ROI in the B2B world.
In fact, 82% of marketers report actively using content marketing in 2021…that’s an increase of 70% from 2020!
To me, this comes as no surprise considering the increase in the amount of content like podcasts, videos and blog articles we’ve seen throughout the year, which really cements the fact that content is still king.
Demand for digital content soars
It’s official, Google has revealed that content marketing is now its number one ranking factor in whether a website will rank for certain search terms. Here’s Google’s Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Starter Guide to give you better insights into what element on your website to optimize for higher ranking.
If you don’t want to read the whole document, here’s one key point you should take onboard:
“Creating compelling and useful content will likely influence your website more than any of the other factors discussed here.”
And that comes as absolutely no surprise to me because content marketing was on the rise before the pandemic. Then ever since the pandemic hit, digital media has been proving more and more attractive to both audiences and advertisers, hence the rise in the amount of digital content we created and consumed over the last 21 months or so.
In other words, there’s no better time than now to embrace content marketing.
Unstoppable growth of social media
In terms of popularity and growth, there is nothing more extensive than the social media platforms. Thanks to its skyrocketing popularity amongst all generations, new social media trends emerge every year...actually, every day.
I’m talking about short-lived new concepts (ahem, Clubhouse) and copycat features that just didn’t work, like Twitter Fleets (Twitter’s attempt at Instagram and Facebook Stories).
The jury’s still out on whether Twitter Spaces will stick – which is Twitter’s version of Clubhouse – social audio livestreaming. Nonetheless, I think it’s applaudable that Twitter is bold enough to trial new features and remove them if they fail to attract users.
Instagram is the place to be
Since introducing Reels to the app, Instagram users have enjoyed the ability to quickly create, edit and share short-form video content. In fact, Reels are one of the best ways for us and our clients to engage with users.
But a real gamechanger was the Link sticker in Stories.
Following this major new addition, all accounts can now add tappable links to Instagram Stories and direct their users off Instagram to content on your website, etc. Previously, this feature was limited to accounts with over 10K followers…but not anymore!
Have you tried it?
The rise and fall of Clubhouse
Now, back to Clubhouse. Remember? The social listening app that so many people were trying to get an invite for?
It drove the social media world into a live audio frenzy, it seemed like so many people were raving about Clubhouse, and I could definitely see why.
The app came at the perfect time. With the outside world still closed for most of early-2021, Clubhouse offered a different option than the usual Zoom, Google Hangouts and Teams meetings which are often limited to your private circle, giving us a small touch of the real world again. With Clubhouse you could speak to, and listen in on, conversations with people from all over the world about topics that interest you.
Not to mention the added layer of exclusivity led to many people wanting to be part of conversations even more. We all want what we don’t have, right?
Unfortunately, despite a promising start (by the way, Clubhouse launched in March 2020...but the real traction came around a year later), the app never fully lived up to its hype. As it seems very few people are talking about it anymore and I hear it’s now largely populated by downhearted creators, dubious advertisers, drama rooms and dwindling users! I’m sure many people are still getting value from it, but the bubble certainly burst.
What I took from the rise and fall of Clubhouse is that yes, it’s important to try new things and never stop experimenting with your content, as you never know what you could tap into.
But to successfully execute this, your existing content strategy needs to be robust.
The big content marketing takeaway from 2021
You need to know that you have enough content working for you on enough other platforms to take advantage of new opportunities, or you could be sacrificing success elsewhere, to take a risk you’re not sure will pay off. You need to make sure you have platforms you have control over, like your website and your email list, and platforms that you don’t but use to reach and connect with people on. Both are important.
When something takes off, take a step back and figure out why. This will help you determine whether it’s a fad that will fade or something that’s here to stay. Work out if it’s worth investing in early or if you’re better off continuing with what works for you and seeing how it goes for others first.
If you’re still getting lots of value from Clubhouse and it’s working for you, then great! In that case, you may be interested in finding out how you can repurpose your content from the app.
What were your favorite content marketing developments of 2021?
So there you have it, in my opinion, the most noteworthy developments in digital content in 2021.If you have any of your own, I’d love to hear it. You can find and connect with me on LinkedIn, and please share your ideas.