3 Social Media Trends to Watch in 2014
Now that 2013 is in the history books, marketers the world over are looking back at the previous year hoping to glean insight into what's to come. And there's certainly a lot to take into account. 2013 was a banner year as far as social media marketing is concerned, with Facebook reigning as supreme as ever. Although the teen demo bailed in record numbers, presumably to newer platforms that mom and dad have yet to discover.
However, there were a few important shifts in the landscape, as Google+ nipped at the top dogs' heels and YouTube came into its own as a tried-and-true social platform. There were also more than a few hiccups and hoaxes that saw marketers scrambling and shaking their heads.
More than anything, the clamor of marketers as they hunted for viral content reached a fever pitch and ultimately resulted in a backlash. Although 2014 isn't likely to see a reversal of such a singular strategy, there are other trends on the horizon, some exciting, some predictable and some downright unexpected.
Social. Location. Mobility. It's a strategy that moves past those three pillars of digital marketing - content, search and social - and factors in locale. Because while at one time marketers could get by solely on the "content is king" maxim, these days that perfect content will be all the more effective when delivered to just the right location. It's no secret why the world of e-commerce has glommed onto this strategy. By tracking a prospect's mobility via smartphone or tablet, marketers can better approximate their habits and tailor content and deals specifically for them -- right when they walk into a store or business.
Some 133 million U.S. citizens own smartphones, so modern marketers who ignore the importance of mobile do so at their own peril. To this end, Snapchat seems to be an effective new weapon in the arsenal of many marketers, as it allows brands to add consumers as friends and blitz smartphones with quick images and messages. It's for this very reason that Snapchat is poised to become one of the more dominant social media marketing tools in 2014.
2. Content Goes Visual
There is something to be said for quality, authoritative content, and it will always have its place in the marketing world. However, image-based marketing campaigns have an engagement rate hundreds of times that of posts which contain only text. Whether its stills, GIFs, infographics or video, images are now the biggest driver of content on social media. Marketers without visual aspect to their content strategy in 2014 are all but assured to be left out in the cold.
3. Google+ Arrives (Finally)
Perhaps previous expectations were too high, and that's why Google+ didn't explode in 2013. But just because Google's social platform didn't rise to the popularity level of the search engine giant doesn't mean it isn't making great strides. As mentioned above, Google+ is climbing every "most popular social networking site" list in cyberspace, and its rise will only continue through 2014. The reason for this is simple: it revolutionized modern SEO by combining it with search and social.
G+ also rolled out a number of new features in 2013 that should pay dividends this year in terms of increased popularity. Between Communities and Hangouts, Google+ users have ever more ways to share content with targeted groups. The platform also has big plans for this year, including streamlined local sharing and better methods of curation and sharing visual content.
The Final Word
Some doomsday predictors envision a 2014 where the pendulum finally swings back the other way and full tech burnout ensues, with folks finally disconnecting for good. It's an interesting notion as society becomes ever more connected at geometric rates, but it isn't likely. Our world isn't a regressive one; the trend of civilization is forever upward. Marketers should keep this in mind when considering how best to integrate their strategy with new technologies and new social media platforms.
This guest article was written by Christopher McMurphy, a marketing aficionado and social media enthusiast. When he isn't blogging, he's offering content writing services to those in need.