2013 has been another great year for social media. Facebook has matured and is establishing itself as a business for the long haul. Twitter is scaling towards profitability and prepping for an IPO. New social networks have sprung up and captured the world’s attention (Snapchat + Vine).
It has also been a year of growth in the field of social marketing. Real-time marketing took a huge leap forward as marketers used social to remain relevant to consumers and the conversations they’re having. Brands adopted new social channels at rates more quickly than ever. There has also been an increasing prominence of integrated marketing campaigns working across different mediums to achieve a common goal (ie. Social TV).
All of this foreshadows an exciting 2014 in the world of social media. Although there are nearly infinite possibilities, here are some predictions for social trends in the coming year:
Native advertising scales
The growth of native advertising was a massive story across the entire digital marketing world in 2013. With the ever-increasing trend of Internet usage towards mobile, native advertising is expanding in prominence. This trend will continue into 2014, with advertising companies continuing to innovate and find ways to scale native advertising.
Advertising companies will plug into Product APIs to create native posts within networks like Facebook and Twitter at a bulk scale. Content promotion will take up a larger slice of companies’ media spend. Advertisers will create threshold management systems to automatically promote organic content that resonates to a certain level with their audience. All of this will continue to push revenue for social sites like Facebook and Twitter.
Campaigns shift towards conversation based
2013 was a year for the emergence of real-time marketing. Today’s consumer is so bombarded with advertising messages that their attention spans are minimal. The result of this is that push marketing tactics are slowly fading into the background. Marketers in 2014 will instead look to become a part of the conversations that interest consumers and add value.
In 2013 marketers did this in a very pre-planned way to events they were anticipating (the Super Bowl, Academy Awards, etc.). In 2014, brands will look to be much more dynamic in their decision-making. Static, pre-planned campaigns will not go away, but brands will invest in real-time assets to facilitate fluid communication and constant touch points to consumers. It is a necessary adjustment as marketers fight to remain relevant, and those who can execute and provide value will reap the rewards.
Google+ becomes a major factor
Although it doesn’t receive nearly the buzz of Facebook or Twitter, Google+ is quickly gaining steam. Its 343 million monthly active users make it the world’s second largest social network behind only Facebook. Part of its influence is being a key part of Google’s SEO plans. Having Google+ delivers an improved search experience via its social signals. Google Authorship and Hangouts and their integration with Google+ provide value to content creators and help build the ecosystem Google is trying to nurture. The question remains if Google+ can gain the kind of widespread usage (in terms of time spent) that other networks gather, but the sheer depth of possibilities for Google+ make it unquestionably an area to watch in social marketing.
Social media public backlash
Facebook’s IPO in 2012 put the world of social media under the face of public scrutiny for the first time. After initial struggles Facebook rebounded in 2013 forcing pundits to bite their tongues. However with the impending Twitter IPO and rumored massive buyout numbers for Snapchat, social media will again experience a period of increased scrutiny from the public.
Facebook will face backlash for allowing an ever-increasing number of advertisements in the News Feed. Twitter will need to please shareholders and increase the frequency at which users see promoted tweets. Wall St. and others will doggedly push that social doesn’t deliver against the hype. Social as a medium will have to adapt to the balance of pleasing shareholders and developing legitimate business models, while still maintaining the intrigue of their users.
As we head into 2014 social media as an industry continues to grow. Its major players must scale their business while retaining users. Its emerging talents need to show that they can establish a business model. Meanwhile marketers must continue to be innovative to reach increasingly inattentive consumers. The adoption rate of new networks will increase, and the creation of integrated campaigns across networks and mediums will become paramount.
Are there any social media trends that you think we missed? Let us know in the comments.
Learn what 2014 has in store for content marketing via our latest infographic.
About the Author
Paul is a social media marketer and startup enthusiast based in Toronto, Canada. He likes to traverse both the tech startup and marketing agency worlds (and everything in between). Paul divides his time equally between tech events and Blue Jays games.