Opinion: Content is growing, and it's crucial for brands to get it right
This year has been tough. We’re navigating the unknown, and more than ever need one another. Whether it’s employees leaning on their company, a consumer leaning on a product or a brand leaning on consumers, we all are using content to stay connected and informed.
Due to consumer expectations and consumer confidence constantly shifting amid the chaos, content teams need to be able to determine what’s working and what’s not in real time. They also must track their content to assess if it is laddering up to their business outcomes. Finally, they have to continue to share meaningful, nuanced stories that connect with consumers and reflect the experiences we are all facing. Content is growing, and that means it’s even more crucial for brands to get it right.
More than nine million people work in content, most describing their function as marketing, business development and/or communications. Despite the global pandemic and economic downturn, the need for brand content creators is rising. More than 25,000 jobs have been posted in the content space on Linkedin this year (more than in 2019 just nine months into this tumultuous year.) The overall projected increase for content jobs in 2020 is 35%. Other marketing jobs aren’t as lucky and will see a decrease of 9%. Given the world we live in, storytelling must be at the forefront. Because of this, brands are looking to hire content creators from a variety of backgrounds, including TV programming and journalism.
Money is not just being spent on hiring. CMOs are spending money on content as well. Forrester recently reported that by 2021, CMOs will spend $119 billion for content, making the industry itself worth an estimated $412 billion by the end of next year. Yet content creators are struggling to keep up with this growth. Not only are they struggling to connect in real time with consumers but brands themselves are struggling to produce enough content to support consumer needs. A recent study by Finite showed that 35% of marketers faced challenges producing enough content to reach audiences in 2020.
We also have seen a demand from content leaders to have more competitor research—as well as content-trend awareness—in real time. Because brands need more content, trends become all the more vital, especially in a fast-turnaround environment like the one we are living in. While COVID-19 has dominated content, over recent months it has shifted from health-related topics to money and asset management. This is likely due to factors including unemployment and the delay in federal relief. Other content trends in the COVID category include mental health, remote work and jobs.
COVID content evolution
Black Lives Matter was another trending topic during the summer but has since evolved to diversity and inclusion content. Most D&I content centers around thought leadership and ways to improve overall workplace culture and experience. Beyond these two hot-button issues, last month brands heavily promoted election-centric content—which they saw as an opportunity to raise brand awareness and strengthen relationships with employees and shareholders through thought leadership. In 2018 Edelman reported that consumers are more loyal to brands that take a stand on issues they care about. While some issues are hyper-partisan, COVID-19, racial injustice and the general election trend high and remain a priority for brands.
This content revolution isn’t ending any time soon. Brands will continue to be tasked with producing meaningful content that resonates with consumers. Content leaders, in turn, will be tasked with connecting that content to business outcomes. Our current world is ever-changing, which means consumer expectations are consistently shifting as well. Today’s content must be nuanced, purposeful, and agile. Brainstorm and production time must be shortened to publish content that remains relevant by the time it’s launched. Lastly, content will remain a crucial part of the customer journey, particularly heightened in our current environment.
Brands will expect content leaders to tie content to designated outcomes and deliver metrics and performance data in real time. From HR messaging to marketing emails, everything brands are creating right now is content. Content has the world’s attention, and content leaders have the unique opportunity to be at the forefront of this revolution.