Audience habits are evolving. Your content strategy should be, too.New research underscores the need to map your content strategy to changing audience trends
As audiences’ digital media habits evolve, marketers must evolve with them. That’s why we were keen to read the latest research in the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism’s Digital News Report 2021. Compelling in a normal year, this report is an essential review following one of the most disruptive years ever for digital media and marketing.
We surfaced a few trends that should be top-of-mind as you plan for 2022:
- Unconventional competitors are reaching underserved audiences in underutilized channels: Alternative outlets and individual creators are using platforms like Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok to build relevance and compete for audience attention. The report cites — among those users searching for news content — that 36% are primarily referencing celebrity or influencer accounts compared to just 14% looking to traditional media or journalists. And these platforms are just more likely to be used by underrepresented audiences, period — groups that are more likely to use smartphones as a primary internet access point and use social platforms as their gateway to information.
- Regional trends vary considerably across digital audiences and platforms: The report shows significant variations across key metrics such as trust in media and platform adoption. For example, overall trust in news remains healthy in Scandinavia (such as Finland: 65%), yet has plummeted in the United States in recent years (29% in this year’s report). If this study were to probe the differences among U.S. regions, it would likely find nuances in how urban and rural audiences trust news outlets as well.
- User journeys are more distributed than ever: The report offers more proof that an average user journey starts further away than ever from owned properties. “Across all markets, just a quarter (25%) prefer to start their news journeys with a website or app. Those aged 18–24 (so-called Generation Z) have an even weaker connection with websites and apps and are almost twice as likely to prefer to access news via social media, aggregators, or mobile alerts,” the report said.
What can marketers take away from this media research? Three things:
- Do your homework: Identify the trends that can indicate real audience preferences, especially on topics that may be subject to regional variations. Focus not just on how your brand can reach target audiences where they are, but also on how you can build relevance and resonance with audiences who are not necessarily primed to engage. This might include going deep into your data (e.g., crunching the numbers on which of your past campaigns were the best at converting your target audience), or conducting external audience research (such as surveys or interviews) or assessing search, social and media consumption data to better understand your target audience’s media habits.
- Right-size your platform focus: How much of your efforts are spent on your website vs. understanding and engaging audiences elsewhere? Are you effectively converting audiences from those external channels? Conduct an audience analysis and segmentation exercise to map your marketing efforts with the channels that will have the most impact.
- Rethink your old content strategy: Communicating with diverse audiences across channels is not a one-size-fits-all exercise. Zoomers on TikTok and Boomers on email are not likely to respond to the same messages and cues. After doing your research and aligning on your platforms of focus, make sure your content strategy is optimized to the needs of those diverse audiences and what your organization can bring to the table. R
If you’re interested in how your organization can better respond to evolving audience trends, reach out to us for a consultation today.
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