2018 in brand communication: the year of purposeful content

The big trend of 2018 has been the obsession with purpose-driven marketing. Social media users are becoming increasingly engaged in debates around political and social causes, and brands are capitalising on this, creating value and purpose-driven campaigns to connect with consumers.
But it’s not just about creating content that’s engaging, relevant and driven by the brand’s core values. Brands have also been exploring new ways to deliver this purposeful content – ways to cut through the noise and make people listen and engage.
Some are experimenting with ephemeral content – like Snapchat and live video – as ways to engage people in the moment. Some use stackable and shareable content to reach people, no matter where they are or what else they may be doing.
These trends work together to help brands build engaged communities, but they also help them find more effective ways to sell their products on social media.  

1. The increase in purpose-driven marketing

Consumers are developing a clear preference for brands that act and communicate with purpose.
Porter Novelli’s research into US consumers found that found that 78% of consumers thought that brands needed to have a positive impact on society, while 66% would switch from a regularly purchased product to a similar product by a brand that demonstrated purpose.
In the UK, Channel 4 found that 60% of people aged 16 to 34 would willingly pay more for products from “socially conscious brands”.
Brands like Nike have been investing in purpose-driven marketing for a while now, but other brands are also starting to realise that their marketing content must be more than simple entertainment.
Budweiser had a purpose-driven campaign in 2017 with Folds of Honor, which focused on US troops. It continued to focus on purpose in 2018 with its Super Bowl ad showcasing its part in disaster relief efforts.

In August 2018, Adidas announced that its new Real Madrid football kit would be made out of recycled plastic salvaged from the oceans.

Purposeful marketing shows the brand living its values. It may alienate some, but get it right and it creates engaged fans who are loyal to the brand.

2. Ephemeral content has become an essential offering

As our Chief Services Officer, Blaise Grimes-Viort has examined on our blog,  ephemeral content is a huge opportunity for brands. Brands that do this well have been using ephemeral content to deliver purposeful marketing in 2018.
And it’s not just Snapchat that offers ephemeral content. Stories and live streaming tap into our fear of missing out. Brands can connect with consumers and have conversations in real-time, which adds to the effectiveness of community building and creating shared ideals. Some luxury brands have seen positive results from live streaming fashion shows in China, for example.
NASA has also been using ephemeral content, in the form of Instagram Stories, to share the behind-the-scenes experiences of women in science.
purposeful content - NASA ephemeral content

3. Stackable content makes engagement easier for people

Stackable micro-content (such as micro-videos and Stories) gives brands a way to communicate their content in a sharable and accessible format – grabbing attention on multiple platforms.
It’s a way to work with fragmented attention. How many of us watch the TV when the ads come on these days? We’re either out of the room or checking our phones. The best brands are starting to reduce the length of their ads to fit our attention spans, using content that is both purposeful and engaging.
They don’t demand a lot of time from people and the content is interesting enough to make people engage with it and share. For example, Nike’s campaign video with Colin Kaepernick was just over a minute long, but it told a powerful, purposeful story and went viral.
There’s a real opportunity for brands to craft these mini, six-second stories that deliver real purpose and meaning.

4. The rise of social commerce

Social commerce has become increasingly popular in 2018. Research shows that 70% of Instagram users have purchased a product via their mobile phones, for example. It makes sense to let them do that direct from the app.
Social commerce lets smaller brands sell directly to the consumer, and gives all brands a chance to provide a relevant and engaging story that just happens to be shoppable – for example by letting a consumer shop from a Story that gives a behind-the-scenes look at a fashion show.
Brands like Next, John Lewis and Etsy are all great examples of brands that are creating social shopping experiences that exploit our need for instant gratification – see it, watch it, buy it. (For a more in-depth look, see our post [LINK TO AB’s POST WHEN IT’S LIVE].)

In Summary:

Brands are fighting harder for our attention. To do that, they’re tapping into our sense of purpose and values, targeting us with ephemeral content that we don’t want to miss out on, using new, shorter formats that engage us, and make it easier to have instant gratification by shopping direct from social channels.

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