Looking Back at the 2021 Content Trends
At the beginning of the year we looked into our crystal ball to predict the biggest trends. Now, we’re revisiting these predictions to look at where we got it right (and really wrong) and the BIG content trends that we didn’t predict!
Where we got it right
Video is still one of the most effective mediums to deliver your brand's message and it isn’t set to slow down anytime soon. Plus, with face-to-face interaction limited through much of 2021, many businesses and brands relied on video, such as webinars and live streaming (more on this below).
Here at PinPoint Media, we’ve seen an increase in video and animation work throughout 2021, as many of our clients are embracing this style of content more and more as they see the benefits to their customers and sales. We predict that this trend will continue throughout 2022.
2020 was the year of streaming and with the uncertainty around the pandemic, it was looking like 2021 would be another bumper year for live content. However, when Cannes Lions announced that they were going to have their event in-person during 2021 we thought the tide was turning. But due to restrictions, this event was cancelled and Cannes went virtual and that was the case with many events in the first half of the year.
Towards the latter half of 2021, as many people got vaccinations, events moved back towards in-person again. Our team for example, were delighted to get back to The Game Fair in July, however some of our clients such as Pro-Carton and ECMA chose to remain virtual this year.
What we expect to see in 2022 is a hybrid for many events. The difference between those events that choose to go hybrid or not is all down to FOMO vs. exposure. For those who want to create a sense of FOMO around their events it makes sense to stay in-person. However, for those who want greater exposure, having some hybrid elements is smart as it provides greater accessibility.
Audio content has seen a resurgence during 2021, from the rise (and fall) of Clubhouse and other audio spaces through to the emergence of shortform audio, soundmojis, 3D audio ads and audible GIFs.
But podcasting hasn’t been forgotten! Back in April Apple confirmed there are over 48 million podcast episodes. As this is up from the 550,000 they reported back in June 2018, it’s clear more podcasts are being started than ever before. We’ve certainly seen it ourselves, with many of our clients approaching us about getting a pod started.
Our in-house podcast, Success Is In The Mind, has also seen a huge increase in our listenership and in the quality of guests approaching us about being interviewed by Oliver. The highlight for us (so far) was definitely being approached by Greg Jackson from Octopus Energy!
Podcasting is still an underused area in marketing, so we expect to see this type of content continuing to grow throughout 2022.
Quality content is the most valuable part of your marketing strategy. A piece of content written and distributed properly will enable you to achieve many goals. Just publishing your content isn’t enough, you need to get your content in front of your target audience. During 2021, when budgets have been tight for many businesses, being able to sweat as much as possible from each piece of content has been more important than ever.
Smart businesses have been repurposing content more than ever in 2021 and many of our clients have been thinking about how they can repurpose their best content into podcasts, videos and animations. As this technique can be more time-efficient and improve SEO (among other things), it makes sense that this is set to grow further in 2022.
User Generated Content
During 2020 UGC helped us all tap into a desire for human connection despite the weeks and months of isolation and quarantining. It gave businesses a way to connect and engage with customers when face-to-face meetings weren’t possible.
We predicted that this rise in UGC would continue throughout 2021 and we were not wrong. Many brands took advantage of this style of content and it’s been most successful with video content on TikTok and Instagram Reels. One of our favourite uses of UGC was in TikTok’s Euro ad Where Fans Play.
The benefit of user generated content is that it is authentic. Real customers can talk and share directly with other customers (or potential customers) and this authenticity will also win compared to a hard sell. We predict that with TikTok still growing, this type of content is only due to rise.
Siri, Alexa, and Cortana entering many of our homes has brought voice search to more people than ever before. Screenless searching is something that millions of people do every single day. During 2021, we (like many others) started streaming our podcast, Success Is In The Mind, via smart speaker, which now means that you say, ‘Alexa, play Success Is In The Mind’!
But voice search is not only about smart speakers, as, according to Google, 27% of the online global population is using voice search on mobile too. The only element of voice search that might hamper its growth throughout 2022 and beyond is accuracy. However, with many of the big players such as Apple and Google invested in this technology, we suspect this won’t hold the growth back for long.
Where we were partly right
Personalisation thanks to AI
Our customers and clients want content that is relevant to them, so personalisation will always be a relevant trend in marketing. Back at the start of the year, we could see that, thanks to AI, personalisation was due to be more targeted than ever before!
Now more than ever businesses need to invest in first-hand data. Collecting data directly from your customers is more likely to be accurate and allows you to be transparent with how you’re getting it and why you need it. That means collecting data on your website, during checkout or using forms, using your internal team to collect relevant data from clients and logging it on your CRM.
Back in January we predicted that there could be big changes in messaging apps, such as Facebook Messenger, Snapchat and WhatsApp. As Facebook in particular appeared to be starting to look at how to leverage selling opportunities within WhatsApp – such as shopping carts.
As well as the Business App for WhatsApp that allows this sort of selling functionality, Facebook also started to make noises about other selling opportunities through Facebook and Instagram messengers. Although this hasn’t taken off as much as we predicted, we can see this being a key functionality during 2022.
Where we got it wrong
Clubhouse was a massive success story at the beginning of 2021. With so many people in lockdown, the invite-only live audio app became the hottest new trend, with big events such as talks from Elon Musk back in February.
A big part of the Clubhouse effect was down to FOMO. As it was invite-only, there was a period where getting an invite was like gold dust. Other platforms, such as Twitter, Facebook and Spotify reacted quickly and launched their own audio spaces.
This competition in the audio space industry, Clubhouse opening up to everyone on iPhone and Android, as well as face-to-face events returning, has been the perfect storm to the decline of what was at one time the hottest new app. Here at PinPoint Media, we are torn about whether that’s the end for Clubhouse and audio spaces in general. But it’s unlikely that in 2022 they will hit the highs that we saw this year.
Nonfungible tokens (or NFTs) have seen a massive surge of interest in 2021. According to a report by DappRadar, their trading volume mushroomed in the 3rd quarter of 2021 to $10.67 billion, a 704% increase from the previous quarter. August in particular was a record-breaking month with over $5.2 billion in trading volume.
There are two main reasons why people are spending hundreds or millions on NFTs; seeing them as an investment opportunity and as a visual representation of social status. Current NFT investors believe in the tech behind this type of content and believe that it will appreciate over time.
NFTs are represented by code on a decentralised digital ledger called a blockchain. Each NFT can be bought and sold, just like a physical asset, but the blockchain allows for the ownership and validity of each to be tracked. This new technology is innovative and versatile, making it an exciting space for tech-savvy investors.
NFTs are particularly popular for in-game items, where users can buy things like skins or accessories to be used in blockchain-based video games. In these games and other online spaces, owning NFTs also offers a form of social status in the crypto community.
But will NFTs continue to gain in popularity? If the rise of Crypto is anything to go by, we say yes. Although there are some who may never buy into this form of tech, we can see that there is a large market of individuals who may not yet have bought NFTs but who are likely to in the future. Equally, the younger generation who might spend more of their time online than previous generations, may be more likely to spend their money on NFTs rather than physical goods.
Thanks to the pandemic, AR and VR had already seen a rise in 2020 and so we expected this to continue during 2021. However, what we didn’t predict was Facebook going Meta! This move from one of the biggest social media platforms into this space now means that all eyes are on this type of content.
Here at PinPoint Media, we’d already started creating AR content for some of our clients, but we predict that AR is set to grow even more through 2022.
So, there you have it! The content types that have been really key during this weird old year of 2021. Do you agree or do you think we’ve missed a big trend? Join us on LinkedIn to let us know what you think.
Next week we are getting out our crystal ball again to look at the big content growth areas for 2022!