The age of innocence is over. Social media is moving from adolescence to post pubescent, facial hair growing adulthood.
In 2008 when I started on Facebook and Twitter it was fun, frivolous and social. Social media was unencumbered by the past, encouraged by the future and treated as a toy by the big end of town. Automation was frowned upon and yelled down.
Today the legacy players in technology, IBM, Oracle and Adobe amongst others have acquired start-ups, built and are evolving “Enterprise Class” social media marketing platforms and infrastructure. Facebook and Twitter have become public companies and social startups are not just seen as the playthings of geeks.
It’s become serious business.
So what’s this mean to you?
It means many things and will impact at various levels and intensity across business, marketing and publishing. It will affect your planning, how you resource and even your corporate culture.
The game is still changing and you will need to continue or even start to adapt and evolve. The old analog paradigms of print and mass media marketing and publishing are being pushed and pummelled. They are being held more accountable and measurable.
Social media maturity means implementing processes and platforms. Boring at times but efficient.
So what are the emerging social media marketing trends in 2014?
#1. Pay to play
Facebook likes were the start and the finish of Facebook marketing. Obtain 100,000 likes and you could reach a big crowd. Facebook becoming public means the shareholders want a return. That means that free reach is diminishing and paying for it is almost becoming the necessary evil.
Twitter has developed self serve ads like Facebook over the last 12 months in the USA and is now rolling it out into the UK and beyond. Yes, even Pinterest’s first promoted pins and advertising went live in October 2013.
It is becoming pay to play on social. The free lunch is looking a touch smaller.
#2. Planning becomes a necessary evil
No longer is it enough to say that you do social media marketing because you have a Facebook and Twitter page. The increasing complexity means you need a strategic social media marketing plan. This means defining your goals, audience and allocating a budget and appropriate resources just for starters.
It’s now time to write that social media marketing strategy.
#3. Brands out-publish traditional publishers
Social media has given us the power, platforms and world reaching networks to all become publishers. Innovative and creative brands and businesses are realizing that social media and content publishing are synergistic cousins and cohorts. Create multimedia content and share it on social networks and you start global conversations.
Brands such as Red Bull, General Electric and Lorna Jane are becoming media companies and publishers with powerful results. Red Bull even has its own media company with nearly 150 employees. The humble blog is leaving its training wheels in the shed. Content is now where it’s at. Mass media is starting to struggle to compete with the amplification and viral velocity of social content driven by the crowd. Octoly discovered that 99% of brand conversations on YouTube are created by fans and followers.
Crowd sourced marketing is now becoming the norm rather than an afterthought.
#4.Visual social takes center stage
Visual social content is now a serious contender in social media marketing due to the convergence of a few factors.
The rapid market penetration of smart phones and tablets
The widespread availability of high speed wireless networks
The decreased cost of data that makes high definition uploads cost effective
The emergence of focused visual media social networks such as Pinterest, Vine and Instagram
The rise of mobiles and their almost universal acceptance and use means that optimizing your social content for mobile is vital. This runs on a few levels.
Make sure your blog is viewable on mobile devices by using responsive WordPress templates
Visual content such as images and video needs to be made easy to view on smart phones and tablets
12 months ago it was a nice to have but is now becoming essential.
#6. Social media automation is no longer a dirty word
Automation used to be a dirty word on social but doing “social at scale” means that you have no choice. New emerging startups such as Sprinklr are helping brands do social and digital marketing efficiently. Traditional technology companies such as Adobe, IBM, Oracle and Salesforce are acquiring and integrating Enterprise class social media infrastructure into their product offerings.
This trend is also seeing the maturing of previously free platforms such a Hootsuite to grow up and offer platforms that offer a solution and one portal for your social media marketing.
#7. Wearable social takes big baby steps
“Google Glass” is offering the promise of doing social at the blink of an eye and with the movement of lips. 2014 will see the emergence of wearable technology that takes social out of your hand and onto your wrist and face. Samsung is also in the game with other startups trying to get a position on the starting line. The other vendor to watch here is Apple. Will they or won’t they play?
The two other important questions on this trend are, “what will be the adoption rate?” and “what will be its impact for social media marketers?” Look forward to reviewing the numbers in 2015.
#8. Google+ starts moving content
Facebook’s necessity of monetizing its social network to appease shareholders and become a sustainable business could be creating an interesting tangential sideshow. It could be pushing users into Google’s arms by using Google+. Google plus is not a source of revenue and doesn’t need to make money. It is helping feed the search beast’s golden search goose called “Google Adwords”
With over half a billion users and growing it is now becoming a vital cog in SEO, social media marketing and content moving. My blog has seen an increase of over 300% in content amplification in the last 12 months on Google+.
Google plus needs to be on your social media event horizon.
#9. The increasing authority of online influencers
Klout and Kred were two of the first movers to allocate online influencers some credibility. This was at first seen as imagined rather than true and authentic. As online influencers in their niches have grown tribes and followers on social networks brands are starting to come out to play.
Brands have done this in the past on traditional media and that is why mass media influencers such as Tiger Woods is sponsored by Nike. There is no reason why this should not also occur with social media. This is a trend that is starting to happen.
The question isn’t “should we?” It is more about ”how can we?”
The power of the social micro niche influencer on a global scale is now becoming evident and real. Expect to see this trend become more visible in 2014.
#10. Brands start ignoring mass media in larger numbers
The first inkling of this was seen when Beyonce launched a new album in December last year. She ignored the traditional mass media release of a radio campaign, multiple TV appearances and retail and consumer brand promotions. Instead she announced it on Instagram to her 8 million followers with the word “Surprise” and proceeded to launch the 14 songs and accompanying 17 videos on iTunes.
The unofficial numbers are said to be 365,000 album downloads on the first day and 1.2 million tweets in 12 hours. Beyonce has her own distribution network and its called “social media”. The power of her fans and crowd sourced marketing is now apparent to all. An interesting question here is “does she need traditional mass media?”
Expect to see to see more of this in 2014.
What about you?
What trends surprise you? Are there anyof these that you are planning to embrace and use in 2014? What other social media trends do you think are going to be big this year?
Look forward to your thoughts and ideas in the comments below.
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