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Content Marketing Is About to Get Awesomely Weird

Is content marketing dead? Nope, but it ain’t your grandpa’s marketing strategy anymore.

Some marketers are going around claiming content marketing is dead. Listen carefully, and you may hear the bagpipes playing. Just don’t tell them the coffin is empty, because content marketing has been around for years — after all, John Deere was doing it in 1885 — and it isn’t going anywhere. It’s just…changing. Whether or not it’s dead to your business depends on how well you keep up with those changes. And with 64 percent of content marketers planning to increase their output this year, expect plenty of shifts.

There’s no need to sound the death knell for content marketing — it hasn’t left, but it’s evolving into something weird.

In 1904, representatives of Jell-O went door-to-door and handed out free cookbooks containing recipes that used their product as an ingredient. The ladies loved it. Sales increased by $1 million over the next two years. Fast forward a century, give or take, and the internet’s here. Companies can put up a website with a blog or a video, or send out a newsletter via email, and voila! Content marketing is getting pretty old, but it still knows how to make magic in unique ways.
Take the language that marketers have started adopting as a prime example. Words used in advertising have everything to do with how well brands resonate with their target markets, but the phrases and images marketers are using these days reflect pop culture, not traditional sales tactics.
About 82 percent of online adults ages 18–29 are on Facebook; to target these Millennials, advertisers are turning to pop culture phenomena that resonate effectively. Whereas ads of yore touted how products could improve consumers’ lives, these days they have to be entertaining, hip and fresh.

In the case of content marketing, weirdness is definitely a good quality.

Grumpy Cat is a perfect example of marketers using memes to advertise; this perpetually perturbed pet is now the official Friskies cat food mascot and has appeared in commercials for Honey Nut Cheerios. Totino’s too, with its short-but-sweet “Live Free, Couch Hard” message, appeals directly to those politically and religiously unaffiliated Millennials who find Netflix marathons more engaging than a State of the Union address.
Aside from tying words and static images into marketing, brands are also harnessing the power of video while incorporating elements of au courant pop culture trappings. Take Hootsuite, a social media management app, for example. In 2015, Hootsuite’s YouTube channel uploaded “Game of Social Thrones.” This reimagining of the HBO show’s opening was fun, but also timely and just plain cool enough to make potential users check out the app. And at only a minute and a half long, it was short enough to leave viewers wanting more.
The things you’re seeing aren’t the full extent of the potential weirdness. Things you’re using right in front of your eyes might be the next frontier. Bionic contacts may soon be able to deliver websites and ads directly to consumers’ eyeballs. But for now, let’s wait until the memes lose a little luster — the Jell-O execs never saw this coming.

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