This time of year is always a fascinating one for me. We’re far enough away from last year that we can truly appreciate the massive changes that rocked our industries. But more importantly, we’re deep enough into the new year that we can begin to see how new trends might shape the year ahead. Without a doubt, social media is probably one of the most popular tools used by businesses globally. Never before have we been able to leverage a two-way marketing communication tool in such a way.And as someone who works within the digital field, I’ve been privy to seeing a wide range of ideas, techniques and predictions as to how social media will shape our companies in the future.
So here’s the big question! Are you ready for what comes next?
Because after reading the theories, mulling over the predictions, and talking with my team here at Web123, THIS is what you’ve got to be ready for in social media as we power through 2014.
1) Google+ will (finally) become massive. When Google+ launched I, like many of my friends and colleagues, wondered what the point of Google+ was. It certainly took a little bit of time to find its feet, but Google+ has made some significant strides in 2013 and you can bet they’ll continue deep into 2014. Most recent stats suggest that Google+ has over half a billion active users currently (more than LinkedIn, Twitter and Pinterest). It certainly helps that it’s backed by the world’s most powerful search engine and integrated into other popular services such as YouTube. In fact businesses and blogs are finding Google+ an incredibly powerful tool thanks to its video ‘Hangouts’ and ‘Authorship’ features… so if you don’t already have Google+ presence, maybe it’s time you get started.
2) ‘Content is king’ will mean something COMPLETELY different. ‘Content is king’ is a popular saying in the digital space which I’m sure you’ve heard before. At first it was all about getting huge amounts of content onto your website, but slowly the reason WHY content is king has changed. As we continue through 2014, you’ll likely see content still being important, but the relevance and context of that content will change. It’s not enough just to *have* content on your website or blog anymore. In fact the majority of your competitors will also be running blogs and therefore quality over quantity will have a greater value on your relevance to a customer. In addition to that, you will need to consider content context as well. People will read and interact with your content in a number of ways. Via their phones, via your website, via their computers, on your YouTube channel, on your Facebook page, etc… Researching what type of content works best on various channels and platforms is incredibly crucial… especially since your competitors will be doing so as well.
3) We will see an increase in promotional content. For several years now companies have been managing and cultivating their social media presence. For a long time it was ‘okay’ not to see a huge return on your initial investment because your social presence was ‘still growing.’ Well many business have ran their Facebook and Twitter campaigns long enough, and now expect to see a return on that initial investment. As a result you can expect to see companies begin to push towards more promotional posts and Tweets, both organic and paid. In fact we’ve seen both Facebook and Twitter renovate and improve on their advertising platforms because of it. Don’t get me wrong, it’ll still be important to create highly relevant content for your social media followers to engage with, but like any marketing tool, you need to start justifying the costs.
4) The #hashtag will continue to rise. When I started seeing #hashtags appearing on Facebook, a small part of me sighed. However there’s no denying that #hashtags, which first originated on Twitter, will become increasingly more popular. Many believe that #hashtags will become commonplace across the internet in general:
– Expect to see them appear on more social media platforms.
– Expect to see more people using them regularly.
– Expect to see more companies use them… and promote them!
– Expect to see #hashtags become integrated into search engine results.
– Expect to see #hashtags appearing on blogs too! What I’m saying is, the #hashtag has already arrived, so it’s best to get used to them and start integrating them into your social media and general marketing strategy right now!
5) Specialist social media platforms will become more mainstream. One thing that is started to become evident is that there will be more social media platforms that appeal to a particular niche or speciality. After all, when Facebook first became popular, who would have known that there would eventually become social media networks aimed at…
– Professionals (LinkedIn)
– People looking to collect visual snippets (Pinterest)
– Strangers looking to meetup and have fun (MeetUp)
– … and people looking to follow the wisdom of celebrities (Twitter).
The fact is there are hundreds of social media platforms of various sizes out there. Some of them will continue to grow, and many of which will remain where they are. Regardless of their size, it is important to find any and all that are relevant to your business and utilise them! Each one is merely a drop in the ocean, but by applying all of them within your social media strategy, it all adds up to one heck of an ocean!
So are you ready for 2014? It’s time to get ahead of the curve!
So there are my top 5 picks for what’s coming in 2014. It’s important to consider all of these and if they’re relevant to you, implement them now into your marketing strategy. Remember, there’s one thing better than jumping on the bandwagon, and that’s driving the bandwagon in the first place and watching your competitors catch-up afterwards. Trust me… it’s fun to watch them run. ;)