Halloween, Thanksgiving are behind us and the mad dash towards the end-of-year Holidays has begun. I will leave it to others to ponder on how 2013 was meaningful for businesses, small and large, as I would much rather take a look at what to expect in 2014 in terms of social media marketing. It’s been a huge year for social media, particularly in marketing, but what’s on the horizon for the next 12 months? Which Social Media Marketing Trends That Will Dominate 2014
Among some of the key concerns:
- Generating enough content for consistent storytelling
- Demonstrating ROI of social media initiatives
- Allocating resources, both financial and human
- Integrating social media interactions in a holistic CRM approach
- Reorganizing corporate structures to deal with social media and user-generated content
Content marketing has quickly established itself as an important tool for brands, and that trend is expected to develop next year. Images will continue to outperform words for engagement metrics, and hashtags are going to become a leading search tool. Mobile marketing is likely to surpass other forms of online advertising, and social media will become an essential aspect of all business strategies.
Google+ Will Become a Major Factor
Google+ is quickly gaining steam, and in fact, now has the second highest number of monthly users (343 million).
With Google using the platform to collect personal information (think demographics, location, etc.), Google+ should no longer be thought of as ‘just’ another social network. It’s increasingly proving itself to be an integral part of Google’s grand scheme in terms of SEO, social signals and providing a more personalized search experience. This is especially apparent with the importance of Google Authorship, which I project will be one of the key components to Google’s search ranking algorithm by the end of 2014.
I believe that businesses who are finding themselves spread thin with their social media efforts will increasingly turn to Google+ as the closest thing we have to a ‘one size fits all’ social network.
FACEBOOK DOWN, TWITTER UP
Is Twitter Better Than Facebook for Targetting TeensWith its 1.18 billion users, of which close to 58% are active daily, with an average of 20 minutes per day,Facebook is certainly not disappearing anytime soon. Outside emerging markets where growth is still happening, Facebook has reached a certain plateau, with even some decreases within the younger generations, in particular the 13-17 teens. For brands, in particular small & medium businesses (SMB), it’s getting increasingly difficult to master the platform and gain a vibrant community without spending some efforts and allocating substantial efforts, both in time and money.
One thing is for sure, though: 2014 should be the year of Twitter. There fact that it will become a public company will throw the 7 year-old platform into the limelight, and with it comes public scrutiny. Many bystanders will want to better understand the platform, which should in turn convert many latent users to come back and give the platform another try. A study by Pew Internet & American conducted earlier this yearfound that more and more teenagers were jumping ship from Facebook to Twitter and Instagram, in great part “because there is less drama”. It’s also easier to fly under parents’ radars and have a more secretive approach on Twitter. Many brands already use Twitter, in particular in the travel & hospitality vertical, i.e. airlines, hotels, destinations, etc. Having more users join this social media should consolidate Twitter as a great customer service platform, not to mention lead generation and R&D.
LinkedIn Major Player for B2B Business Growth
Still holding steady as the #1 social networking site for professionals with 238 million users, LinkedIn isn’t just sitting on its heels. With the launch of itsInfluencers program, LinkedIn is positioning itself as not only another networking site, but as one of the largest sources of content creation and curation for professionals.
As it grows and attracts even more users, the advantages of being “linked in” will become enormous for B2B marketers. For a guide on how to use LinkedIn for Marketing, see my article “The Ultimate Guide to LinkedIn Marketing.”
The Rise of Micro-Video
It seems that writing 140 characters and taking 3 minute long videos is becoming too tedious for many of us. Micro video to the rescue!
With the emergence of micro video apps like Twitter’s Vine and now Instagram’s video sharing feature, we’re seeing even more movement toward real-time video sharing. And not just any videos; with Instagram allowing 3-15 seconds per video, and Vine allowing precisely 6 seconds, users are even more likely to create and share videos from their smartphones.
It will be interesting to see if and how these bite-sized pieces of content will change the playing field when it comes to video-based social media
The words “Snapchat” and “Marketing” are usually not found in the same sentence, but this may very well change in the near future. If you are not familiar with Snapchat, it’s the hot and trendy mobile application that sends out messages (text, photo or short video), called “snaps”, that auto-destruct after a short moment of time, between 1 to 10 seconds depending on how the snap was set up. As of April 2013, its 5 million active users were uploading over 150 million photos per day! There mere fact that snaps get deleted from the server after their time limit explains why so many people are embracing this new app. Its ephemeral aspect contrasts with privacy issues that are plaguing other platforms, with a “spur of the moment” side that can become an opportunity for brands. Yoghurt company 16 Handles is thought to be the first brand that conducted a promotion using Snapchat, earlier in 2013, and a few others have experimented since. With the recent launch of Snapchat Stories (see video below), brand marketers now have an opportunity to ask customers to share their stories, or interact with them while in their store, hotel or destination, to increase engagement and share-of-wallet with in-store promotions. Snapchat marketing should be two words you’ll soon learn to combine!
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