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Today brands are constantly trying to stand their ground in this swarming, overcrowded digital space.  In order for brands to stand out in 2015, they’re going to have to be innovating and thinking of creative ways to capture consumers. Despite the overwhelming competition, the quality of content only seems to be getting better. Here are some trends marketers should expect to be seeing more of throughout the year.

1. Content Communities with Publishing Partners

As the tables continuously turn and consumers gain an upper hand in consumer-brand relationships, it is becoming extremely valuable for brands to listen to what their consumers have to say. Content that is facilitated in a community setting with publisher partners provides a less brand-heavy approach to content marketing. In addition, it provides an open space for conversations that enable consumers to provide input, while simultaneously interacting with the brand.  Consumers like being a part of an online community where people around the world can come together and discuss common interests and ideas, without the actual brand getting in the way.

For example, Nokia, once known for its mobile devices, recently launched a seven-figure content marketing campaign to reinvigorate its brand with a publishing partner. Collaborating with Wired, Nokia’s editorial-styled website, MakeTechHuman, strives to “start a conversation about where technology is taking humanity.” 

2. Harnessing Your Brand to Social Media Stars

As the era of YouTube and social media continues to reign in 2015, brands are learning to utilize emerging social media stars to target millennials.  Influencers like Michelle Phan and Yuya, have millions of subscribers not only on YouTube but on all social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram.  YouTube stars on average reach over a million views per video and has made YouTube their career. As more and more millennials turn to these figures for advice on beauty and fashion, cooking, health and fitness, and more, brands are coming to realize the degree of power and influence they have.  Phan recently scored a contract with L’Oreal and launched her own cosmetics line EM Cosmetics, while Vine sensation Jerome Jarre founded his own mobile-marketing agency, GrapeStory, to endorse brands like Virgin America, Aquafina, and General Electric.

3. Digital + Print Media

A lot of people talk about print media like it’s already dead.  However, the assumption that print is no longer relevant is far from true.  Rather than completely throwing print media out of the picture, the integration of print and digital media, if done right, can have a powerful impact on the consumer.  Print ads are often deemed old fashioned and are frequently tossed aside.  However, the combining of print and digital platforms (usually through mobile apps) capture consumers in a clever and unexpected way, drawing curious consumers to actually engage with the ad itself.

For example, Nivea earned itself the Mobile Grand Prix at Cannes 2014 for its innovative Protection Ad.  The ad itself could be found in a regular print magazine.  In it was attached a wristband with a tracking device that parents could attach around their child’s wrist before a day at the beach.  Then parents were instructed to download an app that would alert them if their child wanders out of safe range.  A round of applause goes out to Nivea as we hope to see more brands follow their lead. 

4. Interactive Infographics

Interactive infographics have made a strong comeback this past year, and seem firm on staying. Marketers have a history of love-hate relationships with infographics over the past few years. Many have criticized its lack of accuracy and misuse.

However, the use and authenticity of infographics have been slowly improving as more and more companies invest in research and original data. Solid metrics and numbers are always a reliable way to secure authority and credibility.  And what better way to share that data with the general public than through infographics. Make them engaging and fun and not only are brands establishing a reputation but also driving traffic. Vibrant colors and fun layouts draw viewers to more likely share them as well through social media as well.

Organizations like Charity: Water use infographics to project their annual reports.  Levi’s and GOOD magazine collaborated to create Your Daily Dose of Water, an interactive infographic for Levi’s Water<Less campaign to encourage people to save water.  United Airlines also worked with NY Times to produce Take the Journey With Team USA, an infographic that combines flight data with the history USA Olympic teams.

5. Branded Web Series

Videos have and still are experiencing exponential growth. Cisco predicts that videos will consist of 79 percent of all internet traffic by the year 2018.  That’s a lot, and marketers will only continue to strive for better quality content and production.

Revlon and Hearst Integrated Media have teamed up to launch #GoBold, a web series that invites mentors to encourage and challenge bold women to strive towards their goals.  Cuervo and ComplexTV also came together to produce a web series, Have a Story City Guide, to spotlight a remarkable person in various cities across the US.  The seamless integration of the brands in both series naturally markets the brand in a painless and entertaining way for the consumer.

In the end, consumers are always anticipating quality content that will be worth their time while marketers should constantly be innovating and implementing fresh new ways to engage consumers with their brand.  Through quality content, consumer-brand relationships are enabled to develop into a valuable mutual bond where consumers are more likely and more willing to respond.

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