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Content marketing best practices for 2021

Kirsty
29th December 2020

It’s safe to say that 2020 has been a year that many of us wish to forget. But while it’s been a challenging one, it’s also been an impactful one. We’ve learned more about humans than ever before; what keeps us motivated, what moves us, and what we can overcome. Many brands were forced to look at the way they work, including their brand presence, and the ways in which they communicate. So as we head into 2021, will we need to change the way in which we view and deliver content?

To kick off the next 12 months, we’re looking at content marketing best practices for 2021 and how you can integrate some of them into your content strategy.

1. Content is more important than ever before

COVID-19 forced us to spend more time in our homes, so it’s only natural that many people have reached into the digital world to be entertained, be informed, and stay connected. Not only will people be looking for more exciting, fulfilling, and interesting content, but they’re also savvier about what they do and don’t want to see on their social media timelines.

This means it’s paramount that your brand isn’t just coasting through life on social media, but is engaging your audience through authentic and useful content that keeps them coming back, time and time again.

Moreover, our appetite for consuming content at rapid speed has increased, meaning slow and glitchy web pages littered with ads or forms that aren’t optimized for mobile simply won’t fly. Ensure your content across all touchpoints is smooth and user-friendly.

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2. You’ve got to be everywhere

As new technology, app advancements, and digital marketing trends enter the market each year, businesses have to be ready to adapt and move forward. 2020 has seen the rise of TikTok, Discord, and Instagram Shops to name just a few, with users quickly jumping on them and becoming pros. Brands need to keep up.

One of our top content marketing best practices is the rule of 80/20. 80% should be established content themes you know already work, and 20% of your content marketing activity should involve trying something new and carrying out experiments to see what resonates with your audience. This way, your content will always feel fresh and inviting, but with the comfort that users are familiar with. You never know, you might stumble upon a content goldmine.

Luckily, with multi-channel scheduling tools like ContentCal, it’s never been easier to keep your eye on all of your social media accounts at once, as well as try new content themes and keep track of their progress.

3. Accessibility

One of the most important social media marketing best practices for 2021 is accessibility. The web should be an accessible place for everyone, and this will be something lots of brands focus on for 2021. Things like including ALT text on all of your web pages, ensuring your video content has subtitles, and captioning your Instagram images; accessibility should be something brands engage with deeply in the coming months.

4. Going live

While live-streaming has always been popular, one of the biggest digital marketing trends of 2020 was going live. We saw a huge increase in the number of celebrities, influencers, and brands tuning in to connect with their followers. Companies who haven’t explored this arena absolutely should, as it can give your followers an insight into the people behind the business - plus its fun content that’s exciting to watch!

We even took events into the virtual sphere this year - and it worked. Music concerts, workshops, even live panels all got the virtual treatment. If budgets, venues, locations, or staffing have held you back before, there are fewer barriers to stop brands from taking their events online for a whole new experience.

Interested in giving it a go? CHeck out our blog on how to use Facebook Live for your business.

5. Know your audience

With so many more brands vying for attention, it’s important that you spend time getting to know your audience and to zone in on when they’re paying attention.

One of the key best practices in content marketing is to go as in-depth as possible when researching your ideal customer type in order to create content that is genuinely valuable and giving them what they want. Otherwise, they’ll go elsewhere.

People aren’t just mindlessly scrolling anymore; they’re digital-detoxing, they’re hacking their algorithms, and they’re taking control of their timelines. To make the cut, you have to offer your followers authentic, engaging content that adds value to their life. Our top social media marketing best practices advice? Remember that your followers are humans, not just numbers.

It may have always been at the top of the list of marketing best practices, but make sure to pay attention to when your audience is online to make the most out of your content. If an Instagram post goes up when nobody is there, does anybody hear it flop? Yep, your boss does - so let’s avoid that at all costs.

For more advice on how to understand and target your ideal customer, check out our second installement of our 6C's series.

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6. Get analytical

You wouldn’t bring a plant home, then leave it in the dark with no water, would you? Think of your social media content as a plant. It needs nourishment and care, and if the leaves start to brown, a change of scenery. Brands need to be constantly checking, tweaking, and reflecting on their content to get the very best out of their content teams and to not get complacent.

With ContentCal Analytics, you can reflect on performance and make judgments on what kind of content you should be creating more of, and which you should leave behind. As far as content marketing best practices go, this should be central to your strategy.

7. Flexibility is key

Agility is one of the key characteristics your marketing plan needs, especially in a world where things are changing week-to-week. 2020 taught many businesses that when normality is ripped out from underneath them, they can adapt and change.

That’s why as we head into 2021, it’s important to have a plan for the unexpected. Not just for your employees, but for your audience, too. This way, everyone is in the loop and you can get on with tackling the biggest fires.

Don’t have a Communication Plan Template yet? We’ve got you covered.

8. Encourage collaboration

With many of us working from home and adapting to #ZoomLife, communication and collaboration are more important than ever before. This can pave the way for a company that feels more connected and unified, even when normality resumes.

With ContentCal’s Contributions feature, you can invite anyone in your company to contribute content ideas via custom-made forms. Harness talent within your organization - you never know what surprises are in store.

9. Accountability is always on trend

Consumers are now asking brands, personalities, and celebrities to be transparent, honest, and open. They’re not afraid to call it out if something seems unauthentic or fake. And they’re showing appreciation with their support, hard-earned cash, and loyalty.

Spend time developing all the ins and outs of your brand this year. What are you known for? What are your content pillars? What are you against? What are you working towards?

Answering these big questions will allow you to be honest with your consumers and your employees, developing your identity and allowing you to grow as a brand.

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10. Work smart

2021 is all about working smarter. By balancing work, family, fitness, mental health, relationships, and friendships all from our homes, the lines can get a little blurry. Marketers will need to create boundaries and switch off when they’re supposed to, at the risk of burning out.

Something as simple as using a content management tool, like ContentCal, to aid with your day-to-day tasks can help you save half a day per week on social media management. Think about what you can get done in that timeframe...

Conclusion

2021 looks like an interesting year for content marketing and digital marketing trends, but it’s important you go into it armed with a strategy for success. Content marketing is allowing businesses to become more creative, to think outside the box, and to create real communities online - something which should be celebrated. Bring on 2021.


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