With another year behind us and a new year on the horizon, digital marketers are looking ahead with excitement. As new technology, tools, and trends emerge, we thought it might be useful to ask some of the industry’s brightest thought leaders what they will be watching in the new year ahead. Here’s what they said when we asked them all one question — which 2014 social media trends will you be watching and why?
“This is going to sound like an anti-trend, but 2014 is going to The Year of Good Writing. Scratch that — it’s the year of Exceptional Writing. Here’s where we are: Content, along with content marketing, has in the past few years come into its own, both as a concept and as a practice. It’s grown up. Next — in 2014 and beyond — comes the notion that good writing is the foundation of all good content, whether that content is a 140-character tweet or the product pages of your website or your content marketing infographic.
“Organizations will realize that words matter. Your words (what you say) and style (how you say it) are your most cherished (and undervalued) assets. In other words, good writing is the basis of good content that gets noticed, no matter what form that content ultimately takes. What’s more: For businesses, good writing is a mirror of good, clear, customer-centric thinking.”
“Several trends and technologies will reach maturity in 2014 spawning considerable disruption, but I believe native advertising in social will have the greatest impact. It’s a back to the future scenario. In the 1950s, product placement and ‘this episode of Your Hit Parade is brought to you by Lucky Strike Cigarettes’ was the norm when companies wanted to reach prospective customers. We then steadily moved away from integrated advertising. But now, fueled by social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Instagram and Pinterest, native adverting is back and 2014 will be the year that Advertorial 2.0 becomes a major part of the marketing mix for most companies. This has far-reaching implications for consumers, authenticity, journalism, marketing budgets, the role of agencies and whether the future is more ‘social’ or more ‘media.’ I’m betting on the latter.”
“I believe 2013 was the year that the giddyness factor finally went out of social media. Look for 2014 to produce less talk about social media in general and continued focus on the integrated business uses of social media as a behavior. More social media use to create awareness about solid content. More social media use for hiring, More social media use to drive email signups and serve customers.”
“Social media trends? I’m thinking bigger than social for 2014. I want to see marketers using an integration for the four media types: Paid, earned, shared, and owned. Of course, social falls under shared so it’s not totally being ignored, but it will move beyond ‘we need a Facebook page!’ and evolve into more focus, better targeted messaging, and using it to qualify leads.”
“I think sometime in the near future will all be dealing with malignant complexity. By that I mean something dangerous that is growing out of control. There are now more than one trillion digital sensors in the world and we are dependent on a connected web that nobody really understands any more.
“A few weeks ago, a bank in the UK shutdown millions of credit card customers during the peak holiday shopping weekend. It took them three days to figure out the simple human error that caused it. This type of disruption can only become magnified and more common over time. Complexity does not grow in a linear way and we are tipping upward quickly. What will this mean for security? For privacy? For essential commerce?”
“Social marketers, especially online retailers, will spend 2014 focused on relevancy and curation. Customers are harder to please but easier to target thanks to the technologies available. By delivering unique experiences custom to them and their interests, digital marketers will deliver a more relevant experience which will likely drive more profitable ones.”
“Podcasting will continue to grow substantially as more marketers begin to understand the value of reaching people while they are walking or driving via audio content. Podcast listeners average 20 minutes per episode (which about matches the average commute). Compare that to any other online channel and nothing matches up. If your business has not considered starting a podcast, now is the time.”
“2014 will be the year of brand journalism. As social networks tighten down on brand freeloading (pay to play gets stricter and stricter) and content marketing makes the airwaves more crowded, brands will need to step up the quality of their content.”
Founder/CEO at Addvocate
“Content will continue to be king, though I believe 2014 is the true year of social, as in engagement, participation, and advocacy. Google’s most recent changes have placed authority and social sharing at the forefront of their new search algorithms — this means it’s not just the content your brand creates, but who is sharing that content and with whom. As such, employees & influencers will become an increasingly vital channel for distributing & engaging customers with branded content.”
“In 2014, I think we’ll see more companies mess around with ‘trend jacking’ as Gary Vaynerchuck calls it. Basically, it’s looking for a trending topic on Twitter and incorporating the hashtag into your tweets. DiGiorno did this brilliantly during the live performance of The Sound of Music this December.”
VP of Strategy at Edison Research
“I expect to see marketers begin to focus on building audience. Audiences are messy, and don’t all want the same things, so content marketers are going to have to start learning some new skills from other media and begin to construct marketing that audience-driven, not message-driven.”
The Sales Lion, Professional Speaker
“2014 will be the year of Social Media Reality. The era of fun, games, and rainbows is over. Companies will finally accept that ‘likes’ and ‘shares’ aren’t true KPIs (key performance indicators) of success (in most cases) and will now shift their focus on the platforms that truly work vs the ones that have little returns, and then put the majority of their energies and efforts in said platforms.”
Educator, Speaker, Lawyer, Writer, & Host of the Marketing Smarts Podcast
“Mobile is critically important. If you sell directly on your site, you must facilitate mobile commerce. Change is coming in 2014! Even if you don’t sell on-site, though, your website still needs to look good on mobile. The fact is, people are viewing your site on mobile, and if you want them to share your content, it needs to load and display properly. Everyone wants their content to ‘go viral,’ but if you haven’t optimized for mobile, that’s never going to happen. Marketers should also take notice that more people are listening to podcasts than ever, and that audience is more likely to share via social, which makes them more valuable. If you’re not podcasting yet, you need to consider it!”
President of Ignite Social Media, Author of Earn It. Don’t Buy It.
“As Facebook continues to make adjustments to the News Feed, the big question will be how people respond to it. Will they use Facebook more, the same amount or less? The answer to that question will dramatically impact the success of our 2014 campaigns and our 2015 strategies.”
Founder & President at RevBoss
“2014 will be a tipping point for social advertising, particularly on mobile. Platforms are shaking down brands for ad spend and marketers are spending bigger chunks of their budget on paid social media products, but the results have been mixed in my experience. The leading social platforms, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest in particular, will continue to surprise with new advertising products for both desktop and mobile in an effort to crack the paid social media code in 2014.”
“The last 10 years have seen brand conversations nurtured beyond the walls of the corporate web site — on forums, social networks, and blogs. As we enter 2014, corporate social networks that return those conversations, by employees and customers alike, to brand-owned properties, where the business can better analyze and profit from stakeholder conversations, will become front and center in the marketing mix.”
VP Strategy at SME Digital | Social Media Explorer
“(1) The Move to Micro (content and platforms). With more people online, the formats and channels they’re using are creating the TRUE long tail of content… you know, the one we THOUGHT we were seeing five+ years ago when suddenly everyone could publish via blogs. Content formats are getting shorter and shorter, and more and more ephemeral (Snapchat, anyone?), and the groups people interact with regularly online are getting tighter and tighter (e.g., Path, etc.) and behind increasingly thicker velvet ropes.
“(2) The Age of the Algorithm. For the last 10+ years, the web (and, for the last five, content marketing) has been dictated by search and subscription: I have a need, I go search for an answer, a helpful brand has anticipated that answer, and I, the customer, is now happily predisposed to that brand. But with 10+ years of helpful content out there, and even the late majority now jumping on the content creation bandwagon, the search market is saturated, and our brains need and demand filters for the firehose. Enter the Recommending Web, built on algorithm after algorithm designed to suggest to us the content we most want to see, from the people we care most about (or might want to), at the time and place we most want and need it.”
President + CEO of Purematter Brand Marketing + Interactive
“I suppose you could say that everything in life requires relentless curiosity in order to evolve. But if there were ever a year that exercising our relentless curiosity will become mandatory, 2014 is it. This will be the year of substance, when content is not just written for search engines to pick up, and when things we had hoped would connect become connectable. And most importantly, the value of marketing will continue to rise as consumers define their own individual futures of the products and services they prefer. 2014 is going to be the year when our human curiosity figures out how people, technology and process can finally work together.”
“SnapChat and Instagram Direct will make their mark big time for brands in 2014. The opportunity to invite consumers to interact directly is an amazing way to build brand advocacy by empowering people to share their ideas and feedback in these venues. If a brand can approach their audience correctly with these platforms there will be so many new ideas for content and customer service coming their way.”
Digital Marketing and Innovation at Hy-Vee
“Marketers need to fight through the white noise of the social media space by investing in creating their own unique, original content. ‘Spray-and-pray’ content strategy and tweeting about obscure holidays isn’t effective.”
Keynote Speaker, Consultant, and Author of Brand Against The Machine
“I suck at predicting trends but I DO have a strong stance on it: In 2014 be less interested in following trends and more interested in setting them. A trend is a sign that everyone is moving in the same direction & that you should move the opposite.”
Now That the Experts Have Weighed In …
What about you? The great thing about social media and digital marketing tools is that we can all dig in, try things out, and learn from our experiences. What have you learned? What social media trends are you keeping an eye on in 2014?
Happy New Year!