Within an industry that moves as fast as marketing, each new year comes with a new set of challenges. In fact, sometimes it feels like these new challenges present themselves more often than that.

TrackMaven recently published a study, “The Content Marketing Paradox Revisited,” in which they examined 75.5 billion interactions, 22,957 brands and 50 million pieces of content. It revealed a trend many marketers were already privy to: content is being produced at a growing rate but engagement is continuing to decline.

So what are content marketers and brand newsrooms missing? Why are they failing to hit the right target? In a previous blog I discussed the focus on quality over quantity, explaining that more content did not necessarily result in more profits. TrackMaven’s findings continue that same idea.

Pay-to-play and app-specific content the chief concerns

TrackMaven’s study highlights two main concerns for marketers in 2016. The first is that the key social media platforms are moving towards a ‘pay-to-play’ format. TrackMaven says:

‘As social networks proliferate and fight to monetize, the social media “free lunch” is over. In the nascent days of social media marketing, early adopters were able to amass significant social audiences by doing little more than posting consistently. But the days of the free lunch on social are coming to an end. Networks continue to implement new ways to monetize audience access while preserving content quality and relevance’.

The second challenge is that as the use of mobile continues to flourish, so the need for valuable ‘app-specific’ content will grow. TrackMaven says that by 2015 adults were spending 5.6 hours each day on internet-connected devices — half of which are mobile devices. They also found the average smartphone user in the US spends 88 per cent of their device-using time in an app.

So people are using their phones more than ever and a large majority of that time is spent in only a few favorite apps. Platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Snapchat are all making modifications to make this easier and easier. Facebook has introduced Instant Articles, Instagram has ‘buy now’ and ‘install now’ buttons and Snapchat has added the ‘Discover’ section, all in attempts to keep users inside the application.

‘In other words, social media content is no longer a “click bait” lure. It needs legs of its own’.  –  TrackMaven

Asian example shows where trend is headed

By looking at the Asian app market, we can see just where this trend is headed. Chinese giant WeChat, Korea’s KakaoTalk and the Japan’s Line all incorporate e-commerce, food delivery, taxi services and online payments. Also on each of these platforms, developers can create apps that function within the bigger app. Business Insider reported that a number of start-ups were first testing app ideas on WeChat before making them available to the wider market.

So how does this new challenge affect your business? What affect will the monetization of platforms and their migration to mobile have on your strategy?

Well, it shouldn’t change your strategy at all, that is, if you’ve been listening.

At Lush we have always said that by creating truly engaging and targeted content, worthy of sharing, you will engage your audience.

With platforms requiring you to pay to play, the biggest change will occur to your budget. But if you continue to create content that is platform specific, easily accessible, and has true value to your audience, you will be able to engage them and ensure ROI on any extra spending.

‘For marketing teams, creating custom content will require more intentional use of resources, more creativity, and more budget. But the teams taking the time to be intentional will outperform those that are spraying and praying every time’.  TrackMaven