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Marketers typically find figuring out algorithms and how to optimize their content around them as a challenge. So it’s not a big surprise that a Content Marketing Institute (CMI) and MarketingProfs study [PDF] of almost 300 B2C content marketers, the majority (59%) of which were from the US, found that roughly 6 in 10 B2C organizations (63%) identified changes to SEO/search algorithms as their most important content marketing issue of 2018. Changes to social media algorithms ranked a close second with 59% of responding marketers finding it an important issue.

The research found that more than half (57%) of B2C organizations measure content marketing ROI. Perhaps as a result, more than 4 in 10 respondents (44%) reported that content marketing as a revenue center was an important issue for them, making it the third most important issue for last year.

Social Media Stories On the Rise

Over two-thirds of survey respondents said they used or developed social media stories within the last year. This finding is supported by the growing use of social media as a marketing channel. During Q3 of 2018, Marin Software’s clients spent 25% of their budgets allocated to Instagram on Stories. Another study revealed that US Instagram users put placed more value on a brand’s content in Stories than in the feed.

Story features have emerged across Instagram having been copied from Snapchat, with the feature now being present (for consumers, at least) on Facebook and its messaging platform WhatsApp. As Mark Zuckerberg reported in a Facebook earnings call of Q3 2018 [transcript]: “We’re following our normal playbook here of building out the best consumer products first and focusing on succeeding there before ramping up ads. I’m optimistic that we’ll get ads in stories to perform as well as feed over time, and that the opportunity will be even bigger because it looks like stories will be a bigger medium than feed has been.”

Long-form content was another type of content developed and used by B2C content marketers in 2018, with 57% of respondents using content such as in-depth articles, guides, and whitepapers in their marketing. Video snippets were also used by more than half (52%) of respondents. As the majority (59%) of marketers believe that video converts better than other content, it’s possible this percentage will go up in the future. On the opposite end of the spectrum, yet of some interest, experiential content such as VR, AR or immersive content was used or developed by 8% of respondents.

Audio and Visual Content Even More Popular for Marketers

Continuing on from the findings above, audio/visual content usage has increased from 2017. Seven in 10 respondents say that their use of content such as video, live streaming, and webinars increased from the year before. Only 6% reported that their use of audio/visual content had decreased in that same time.

Written digital content (i.e. articles, blogs, ebooks) also saw an increase in use by B2C marketers. Two-thirds (64%) of companies surveyed report using written digital content more often. This is in comparison to the written printed content such as magazines, books, and brochures where only a third (30%) of companies had used more than in 2017.

It’s also worth noting that visual content of various types is being used more frequently than that of audio-only content (i.e. podcasts, audiobooks). Only 27% of companies increased their use of audio-only content over the year while 63% increased their use of images (i.e. infographics, photos, charts, GIFs).

More findings can be found in the survey that can be downloaded here.

About the Data: The CMI report is based on findings from a survey of 299 respondents of B2C or B2C and B2B companies. The respondents all work within the content marketing field, and are based in from various countries, with the majority (59%) being from the United States.

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