Social Media and Predictions | Social Media Today.
Social Media is a fast moving industry sprouting quickly into new dimensions. Increasingly, businesses are learning that building an online community through social media is the key to nurturing relationships, strengthening word of mouth marketing, standing out from the crowd and in return converting leads.
With new social networking platforms appearing from behind every corner, it can be hard to know exactly where to commit your time and resources as the new year approaches. As 2013 wraps up, it is safe to make prediction about where social networking is going, and how one can get on board.
#1. Social Media is a Necessity, not a luxury.
Social media will move from “should have” to “must have” in 2014. It has always been important to invest time and resources into a social media strategy; however, 2014 will prove that it is no longer a just an option. Businesses are already seeing the impact of social media in terms of lead generation, referral traffic, and revenue.
Companies will continue to move away from assigning social media tasks to existing employees, and experience the benefits of dedicated staff. For those still not aware of the many social media benefits, they include improved social signals and SEO (factor in the search ranking algorithm), branding, improved awareness, word of mouth, increased loyalty, and improved audience reach just to name a few.
#2. Social media as part of an overall marketing campaign
This brings us to trend #2. Social media is a not a silo that can function on its own. Previously, companies may have been jumping into social media because it was the newest trend without a strategy; however, increasingly more businesses are realizing the role of social media in the overall marketing plan and how it benefits the overall goals. It is essential to integrate social media when execute campaigns also while connecting the offline and online as this truly completes the customer relationship. Social media helps amplify the message and adds an engaging component to what is usually a one way conversation. Something as simple as having an online conversational component to a print advertisement, offering perks and rewards to your community and hosting events for your loyal advocates, helps build an engaged following. Social media and conversational marketing transform brands like no other by changing the fundamental nature of the brand/customer relationship.
#3. It’s a mobile world.
Mobile friendly content is essential for 2014 as the shift from computers to mobile devices accelerates, businesses won’t remain competitive unless content is accessible and engaging to mobile users. In fact, Forbes predicts that by 2017, an astounding 87% of connected devices sales will be tablets and smartphones. What are people doing with mobile phones? Accessing their social media accounts of course. It has also been indicated that people may not actually mind mobile social media ads. Facebook’s share of global mobile Internet ad revenues will reach 15.8% this year, up from just 5.35% in 2012 with the overall mobile ad market to grow 89% in 2013 to $16.65 billion [≈ 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami aid]. It’s the world of a mobile social customer and your social media strategy must adapt.
#4. Get on Google+
SEO plays a large role in this trend. Google+ is attracting a significant following now that the “+1″ button plays an important role in Google’s search rankings. Google’s social network is designed for deeper engagement of shared interests and it is more suited for business and education interactivity. Part of what makes Google+ more business friendly, is that it encourages you to meet new friends online, whereas Facebook wants users to focus on adding existing friends. Sure, Facebook continues to lead the pack in terms of number of active monthly users (1.15 billion at last count) but 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 because 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 (think Google Authorship).
#5. And maybe get off Foursquare
With stale traffic numbers, and significant difficulties raising capital in 2013, Foursquare continues to struggle. With social networks like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter now offering location-based features, there is not much of a use for a platform like Foursquare that operates entirely on location based mobile app with not much else to offer. As a matter of fact, Foursquare seems to be stuck in a strange zone that is neither search nor social and it’s user base is becoming less relevant. If FourSquare wants to survive in search, it has to compete with Google, Facebook, Yelp and even Apple. On the other hand, if they want to compete in couponing, it will have to face the likes of Groupon and LivingSocial. Either way, it is a tough battle.
#6. Think images.
Our attention spans have caused us to be very visual in consuming media. The consistent trend in2013 toward sharing through image (and video) over text-based content has been evident as visual content is increasingly becoming a critical piece of any solid content strategy. Ecommerce is going through a Pinterest-ization phase and the social media platform will continue to shed its reputation as a female network becoming an integral part of retailers’ marketing.
Other image-based social media sites like Slideshare, Tumblr, Path, and Mobli will continue to grow requiring businesses to become more mindful about sharing photos on their websites and blogs in order to gain significant benefit from their social media content marketing efforts. Overall, it will be important to consider how users’ expectations for strong visual content will affect brad social media strategy in 2014.
#7. Think video.
With Instagram video and Vine, micro video will continue to rise in popularity. We’re seeing even more movement toward user generated real-time video sharing with none other than user’s smartphones. It will be interesting to see how this user generated content from Instagram and Vine will change the playing field when it comes to video-based social media.
Video and social media without a doubt will continue to grow and as Cisco predicts 85% of all internet traffic in 2015 will be video. For brand videos, it’s all about video engagement as the demand is shifting away from total number of video views, to different level of engagement. Brands want to know that their video is actually impacting viewers and how call to action can be integrated when viewing content. Expect to see brands experimenting with location video targeting. As an example, earlier this year Longo’s market has opened up a new location in Leaside creating a video series to showcase the new store but to also encourage people from the area to visit the location and increase awareness. Longo’s created videos targeting viewers who live within a 7km radius of the store. Once the ad is seen, a clickable ad-overlay is displayed at the bottom of the video saying “Longo’s Gift Card Draw” where users are encouraged to click on the ad. Once clicked, users are directed to Longo’s Facebook page where they can enter the contest and/or redeem a coupon for the Leaside location.
#8. Ad Retargeting
Re-targeting means that ads can be placed on social sites based on a visitor’s interaction with other websites. For example, say you were shopping for a vacation and you logged into expedia.com to look up a trip to Los Angeles – the next time you log in to Facebook, you are more likely to see an ad for a California getaway. Although this can be annoying at times for consumers, re-targeting could lead to more efficient spend of advertising dollars for marketers and can also cater exactly to the audience.
Only two percent of web traffic converts on the first visit; ad retargeting can help increase conversion rates by reminding consumers what product or service they saw online. Browser cookies are utilized to track visited websites and once a user leaves a site, those products/services will be shown to them again in ads across different websites. This keeps the brand and product at the top of the consumer’s mind and due to the success that many marketers have had with ad retargeting, there’s a good chance that it will become more mainstream in 2014.
#9. Native Advertising
Native ads place brand content such as videos, photos and articles directly into the content of the publisher’s website, matching it up with the website instead of fitting ads into boxes separated from and around the content. Some of the examples include but are not limited to: Facebook Sponsored Stories; Twitter’s Promoted Tweets; promoted videos on YouTube; promoted articles like TrendHunter Sponsored Posts and BuzzFeed’s Featured Partner content; Yelp Sponsored Listings and promoted playlists on Spotify.
People generally respond much better in a natural setting and one could argue that the most effective advertising has always been native to the environment. As a matter of fact, the best click through rate is received from Facebook ads that target friends of friends and note the recommendation of their peers rather than direct brand advertising.
Leading the path with native advertising is video as it is most promising asset for scalable native advertising. Brands and agencies are doubling down on video production, beyond traditional 15-30 second ads. The commitment of branded content production and native video advertising pours yet more fuel on the fire in whichever direction you look. However, if you don’t get the social sphere, your brand will be frowned upon by the digital savvy and smart consumers of today.
It’s always an exciting time in the fast evolving social media industry. Cheers to a great year ahead!