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The 10 Big Social Media Marketing Trends in 2014

The 10 Big Social Media Marketing Trends in 2014

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

Add the emergence of visual content marketing platforms such as Shuttlerock and it’s a trend that is helping companies drive brand awareness and sales.

#5. Social mobile is now mandatory

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.

This includes:

  • 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.

A success?

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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  • chevyd80

    Already on Google + Will use it even more this year.

  • It’s exciting to see what’s going on with social media because even us “little guys” can have an influence and reach an audience and add value!

    • That is a great point Kimanzi. Social media has democratized influence. The traditional gatekeepers don’t hold all the cards anymore

  • venkyiyer58

    Kimanzi/Jeff: On the other hand, “pay-and-reach” tactics like those of Facebook mean that the little guy gets crowded out by the big guy.

  • Jeff Domansky PR

    Jeff, an excellent post, particularly trends number #8, #9 and #10. You did miss one other very important trend for every organization though — BIG Data. For organizations, it means marketing opportunities through gathering data internally and externally and converting it into business intelligence. For individuals, big data comes with a set of advantages and disadvantages. Individuals can use it for tremendous insight. But the use of our personal data will become an increasingly big issue and concern. Big data is going to be an incredible leveler of the playing field those who can afford it and those who can learn to use it for competitive advantage. There are some invaluable tools and services already available and things are going to get even more interesting very quickly. it’s an exciting time to be using social media today.

  • I’ve seen a big upturn in traffic to my blog/site from G+ since last October, it’s time people stopped dismissing it! Happy new year Jeff!

  • Thank for the share. Shall make it a habit. Thanks for blogging.

  • Sarah Bauer

    #3 is on target. Just this morning, Joe Pulizzi tweeted from CM World, predicting a move towards brands buying up existing media companies. It’s a whole new ball game!

    Sarah Bauer
    Navigator Multimedia

  • Hi Jeff,

    Excellent! I like the note about automation. Nope, no longer a dirty word….it is actually a necessity with all the noise out there. Send out updates twice or more daily and engage to boost page views and expand your brand.

    Thanks for sharing!

  • Sometimes, trying to keep up with social media trends can get overwhelming, but it’s how it is to stay on the top right?

    I just started being active on Google+ 2 weeks ago after reading from somewhere that being active on Google+ will help improve your search ranking and let me tell you… I started to see a great increase in my traffic, averaging from 12k to 15k 🙂

    Not only that, there’s so many active & engaged users on G+. People makes meaningful conversation so I am encouraged. I actually find it more useful than Facebook.

    I will need to focus more on providing visual infos & engaging on G+ this year 🙂

    Thanks for the great tips Jeff!

    • Yes, it is a very engaged and passionate community and also quite often business focused.

  • Jeff, all your 10 points are valuable. your 8th points is very important, google are giving extra advantage if you are using g+ for promotion of your content. So i think we should more focus on G+ Marketing.

  • Eliot Mannoia

    Great post Jeff thanks!

    Worth noting that reviewing online influencers with Kred and Klout should be done with caution. Kred in particular is not very transparent on how it’s algorithm works – and an influecer with 2m followers but the wrong audience, or disengaged audience, is not as powerful as an influencer with 1,000 followers/subscribers but the right audience.

    @ Jeff Domansky PR good point, big data is definitely an important growing area.

  • Google + was such an incredible asset to me in 2013 for growing my blog presence. I feel like I just scraped the surface with it, though. I’d love to learn more about how to effectively use circles, for instance – everyone I know is in one massive circle right now!

  • Nikita Barabanov

    While the points you make are somehow similar to the ones that have been made a year ago, the piece is still well written and proves that good social media distribution can make even non scarce content shine.

    What i would like to here though, is how to fight Facebook algorithm changes (less organic views) and predictions for twitter trends in the upcoming year.

    As for google+, yes its users base grow vary rapidly, but when you look at REAL active users (not the one who has it for “content contributor field:) its use as a main content distribution channel is somewhat questionable.

    And yea, yahoo with its Tumblr is doing something and that’s definitely something to look into this year.

  • lauralouise90

    Social media is so important but a lot of people overlook it as it’s time consuming. I do agree with what Kimanzi said though that it gives even the smallest business’ a voice. The problem is keeping your voice heard in a pool and so many people trying to be heard… Laura @ Birmingham Mailing House

  • James

    Great blog Jeff. I do have one thing to add to the list though: In store social media apps. Everyone is screaming Shop Local but no one factors them in when developing new technology. I work with local businesses everyday and they are ignored. I know we live in a digital, online world but until further notice, there are still millions of Mom and Pops in the world and they need to be factored into today’s technology. The app I just launched, http://storefollower.com, is a step in that direction. Either I am way off on my perception of the local market or everyone else hasn’t caught up yet. What do you think?

  • Great article! I find it very helpful especially to newbies in the world of how social media can help business big or small! Thanks for sharing, Jeff!