6 Social Media Trends for 2014 to Watch Evolve

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Let’s face it: Social Business, and social media in general, is in constant flux and evolution. The same goes for my predictions for 2014: I don’t foresee anything radically new on the landscape that will become mainstream in 2014 (and I don’t see how anyone could), but there are a number of trends that we will see further evolve in 2014 that every business and social media professional need to pay more attention to. These social media trends for 2014 are in no special order, but they are listed in the order in which they evolved from my thoughts into this blog post – which was actually originally created to provide a prediction for Social Media Examiner’s 11 Social Media Marketing Predictions to Watch for 2014 (my Employee Advocacy prediction, along with those from 10 others, appears there, so make sure to check it out as well!) :

Employee Advocacy

Employee advocacy will become a strategic initiative for more and more large (and some small) companies. Companies are always looking outside corporate walls for brand ambassadors in social media, but many of their most passionate advocates are also those who have deep ties to their company: Their employees. Each individual employee has influence in their own unique social network, so the more employees that can help share the company’s social media messages, the broader reach a company can yield in social media. To think of it in simple terms, if you had a sales and marketing team of 25 employees, your social media messages could be shared by either your singular corporate account or by your corporate account and potentially 25 more people. The exponential power of employee advocacy, especially on professional networking sites where it is most relevant like LinkedIn, is beginning to be realized by many and I predict will have a breakout year in 2014. Creating a successful employee advocacy program has its challenges, but the evolution of both social business as well as employee advocacy platforms (such as GaggleAMP, PeopleLinx, and Addvocate) should progress this program forward in many companies in 2014.

Google Plus

Google Plus will finally win its respect from the social media marketing community. Just as companies questioned why they should be on Twitter a few years ago, the same questions continue to be asked about Google Plus. Once companies realize that Google Plus is not just a community like other social networks but is also a social layer for all things Google with many entryways leading into G+, it becomes a no-brainer to establish a presence on the site. Google Plus at the moment does not allow campaigns and has only just released advertising to a very few partners, so marketing on G+ will take a different form than what we are used to seeing on Facebook. But the ability to use Hangouts to engage via video with customers other social media users, the growing number of communities that exist on G+, the potential power of circle sharing, and the undoubted increase in users and activities on the site points to 2014 finally being the “breakout” year for companies to get started on and engage daily in Google Plus.

Paid Social

My prediction for 2014 is that Paid Social becomes truly mainstream. While some companies still question as to why they need to pay for social media advertising, Facebook’s recent announcement made it clear that without paying to play, your effectiveness in your social media marketing to rise above the noise will be limited. Social media was never free due to the investment of time and resources needed, and if online ad budgets are available, it only makes sense to shift some of this money into social advertisements to help make your social media program more effective. Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn have all developed micro-targeting options that allow you to deliver your message to only your most relevant target demographic, and experiments in advertising on Pinterest, Instagram, and Google Plus mean that similar advertising options might become available in 2014 on these new platforms. I still believe that Paid Social is one of the most under-utilized aspects of social media marketing, but 2014 should see more companies utilizing paid advertising on more social networks to help make sure, above and beyond their legacy social media program, that they are found by relevant audiences throughout social media.

Content

My prediction for 2014 is that companies will place more emphasis on content creation as opposed to content curation, community management, or other forms of engagement. At the end of the day, it is unique branded content, whether it be in the form of blog, photo, video, audio, presentation, or other embeddable format, that becomes a shareable corporate asset in social media. From Facebook’s recent algorithm changes to the new Google Plus ads to SEO algorithms, unique content is the killer asset that will become all the more important for businesses in 2014. Together with the rise of content marketing, a content-centric social media marketing strategy will become all the more important to help businesses rise above the noise and be more effective in their social media practice.

The Visual

The emergence of visual social media marketing in 2013, especially with the rise of Pinterest and Instagram, is no mystery to anyone. Now we see how this emergence of visual social media marketing will affect the other social networks in 2014: From changing the specifications of visuals that you publish together with your blog posts, producing more micro videos on Vine or Instagram, creating more visual memes to engage your social media audiences, or simplifying your presentations that you add to SlideShare to emphasize the visual, 2014 will be the year that you should be rethinking and optimizing all aspects of your visual social media marketing for maximum effectiveness.

Mobile Personal

The final trend is one I have seen evolving rapidly due to the time and connections I have in Asia. You see, there are well known consumer brands in Japan that have more followers on a mobile communications app called LINE than on Facebook. Similar to LINE, which is popular primarily in Japan, we have seen the emergence and popularity of  a mobile communications app in China called WeChat (which, if you were curious, was the most downloaded mobile social app in countries like Brazil, Mexico, Italy, Spain, and South Africa earlier this year). Both apps, almost out of nowhere, have more than 300 million registered users which primarily joined in 2013. Some of those that I met at my recent Facebook said that they look to Asia as being the future of mobile, so I see this trend expanding outside of China and am calling it Mobile Personal. What is Mobile Personal? As we spend more time on mobile devices, we are also changing our communication habits and the way that we use social media. I always define social media about being the convergence of information and communication, but too many, it is evolving back into a personal communication-centric platform. For these social media users, it is about being able to communicate directly – and in fun and unique ways – with their personal friends. For this growing demographic, LINE and WeChat are the perfect solution. What about in the rest of the world? I believe that the recent introduction of Instagram Direct – as well as the addition of stickers to Facebook Messenger – is a direct reaction to this trend and growth of these apps, which undoubtedly compete with the major social networks vying for time of the mobile social media user. By the way, if you’re an audio type, you can listen me to speak about these trends in my own voice on my Maximize Your Social Podcast here:

Are any of these social media trends for 2014 new to you? Any others that you would add to the list? Which one is the most important to your company in 2014?

About the Author:

Neal Schaffer, Founder and Editor-In-Chief

The Founder and Editor-In-Chief of Maximize Social Business, Neal Schaffer is a leader in helping businesses and professional strategically maximize their use of social media. Neal is the author of three social media books, including the recently published definitive social media strategy book Maximize Your Social. Forbes lists him as a Top 35 Social Media Power Influencer and AdAge lists his blog, Maximize Social Business (formerly known as Windmill Networking), as a top 100 global marketing blog. Neal provides social media strategy consulting and coaching, having worked with Fortune 500 companies and a Grammy-award winning musician. He has presented worldwide on social media at more than 150 events and also teaches social media marketing at Rutgers University. +Neal Schaffer

Neal Schaffer
The Founder and Editor-In-Chief of Maximize Social Business, Neal Schaffer is a leader in helping businesses and professional strategically maximize their use of social media. Neal is the author of three social media books, including the recently published definitive social media strategy book Maximize Your Social. Forbes lists him as a Top 35 Social Media Power Influencer and AdAge lists his blog, Maximize Social Business (formerly known as Windmill Networking), as a top 100 global marketing blog. Neal provides social media strategy consulting and coaching, having worked with Fortune 500 companies and a Grammy-award winning musician. He has presented worldwide on social media at more than 150 events and also teaches social media marketing at Rutgers University. +Neal Schaffer
Neal Schaffer

@nealschaffer

Author, @MaxYourSocial | Founder @msocialbusiness | Trilingual Social Media Strategy Consultant, Coach, and Speaker | 日米ソーシャルメディア専門家|G+: https://t.co/BqaJvubiP8
2 Steps to Develop Your Social Recruitment Strategy http://t.co/u6w6vrgUkj - 46 mins ago
Neal Schaffer
Social Fresh West

Comments

  1. rhwoodman says

    Neal, I appreciate what you said about social media trends for 2014 as it relates to B2C sales, but what about professional B2B sales in a science-based market?

    I work for a company that manufactures chemicals that are used in pharmaceutical drug development, medical diagnostics, nanotechnology, etc. Our chemicals are used in both research and product development. The market is segmented, and its growth potential is limited, though still quite large for now. We have competition, and we need to capture our market.

    The problems we face are numerous. (1) The market is B2B, so the chance of us achieving rock star status is limited compared to popular B2C marketing. (2) The science market is, for lack of better terms, formal and reserved. We can’t be all flash and glitz, as that will likely turn off more potential customers. (3) The science market (and scientists) are only just now entering social media as a place to do business. Scientists use social media for social purposes, but not for businesses. In fact, an informal poll I took of scientists who follow me on Twitter was overwhelmingly *negative* as far as using social media for marketing. (4) There’s no clear strategy that I can see for marketing effectively to purchasing agents using social media, especially as, with social media, many companies limit employee access to social during business hours.

    In particular, I was struck by your comments about Google+. I’m well aware that Google is trying hard to funnel everything Google through the Google+ social platform. I think that may very well turn off lots of professional scientists. I know it’s given *me* pause, because when I go looking for scholarly papers on chemical syntheses, I really *don’t* want my experience filtered through a social media platform. I think that making all of Google more social might drive professional scientists away except for those engaged in science education outreach.

    I’d be interested in your thoughts on the issues I’ve raised here.

    Happy New Year!

    Robert

    • says

      Hey Robert,

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting! My thoughts:

      My thoughts for social media in 2014 are not specific to B2C sales – they are the way the universe of social media for business is moving, whether you’re B2C OR B2B.

      As for your problems:

      1) B2B social media marketing isn’t about being a rockstar: It’s about providing compelling content to help establish your company as a thought leader.

      2) Social media isn’t all about being flashy and glitzy. From a B2B perspective, it’s about being useful, resourceful, and helpful.

      3) That’s the point about B2B social media: All of your clients are probably using it for personal (as well as some partially for professional) purposes. There are ways to engage with them in social media. If you don’t your competitors will. Social media was never made for business, but here we are. The Internet was never made for company web pages, but here we are. B2B social media marketing requires a different mindset in recognition of this.

      4) If purchasing agents are spending 25% of their time on the Internet in social media, and if they spend more time on the Internet than watching TV – and search results are partially influenced by social signals – there is clearly a role that social can play in your marketing.

      As for Google, well, if all of your potential clients are exclusively using Bing or Yahoo to search for things it’s one thing, but if they use Chrome and/or have an Android smartphone, they might be using Google more than they think. I understand from a scientific perspective people don’t want filtered search results, but search results have always been filtered. Through Google Plus, Google is actually trying to give you better filtered results.

      How much priority you should be placing on social is one thing, but there is undoubtedly a role it can play – and has to play – in your marketing simply because your clients are naturally using social media in their lives just like they search for information on the Internet. You can ignore the trends or instead look at them deeply in the context of your customer base and see if there are any creative ways you can integrate them into your marketing. Every single social media strategy that I have created is a unique work in that it depends on many factors: your company, products, industry, current market status, business objectives, competitors, et. al. All I can offer you above are my thoughts which hopefully make sense, but above and beyond that it is up to you to see how it might apply to your marketing in an effective way. As I like to say, social media marketing is half science, half art: I can teach you the science, but you need to become the artist.

      Hope my explanation makes sense! I welcome your feedback, but more importantly, Happy New Year!

      - Neal

  2. says

    Thanks Neil. I value your advice and agree with these trends. I, too, spend a lot of time in Asia and feel we can learn a lot about the future of mobile marketing by studying their consumer behavior. I have used We Chat and find it an excellent communication tool to connect with my wife’s family and friends in China.

    I teach a new course in Social Media Marketing at the University of Northern Colorado and recently purchased your strategy book. More needs to be written about approaching social media with more planning and strategy rather than a reactionary and tactical use of social media.

    Denny

    • says

      Hey Denny,

      Thank you so much for your comment! When I recently visited Facebook, I was talking about LINE because of my experience in Japan, and the people I met responded with, “do you know We Chat?” We Chat clearly is becoming a major force in Asia and it will be interesting to see what affect it (and LINE) has on people’s use of social media there. The big question, of course, is whether or not either of these apps can make it big outside of Asia. Time will tell… And, of course, the BIGGER question is how companies might utilize these apps for marketing purposes. LINE has a specific Pay to Play approach where it costs money to set up a business account. Interesting approach.

      Congratulations on the new social media marketing course – and thanks for purchasing my book! I agree with you 100%. You might be interested to know that there are other universities that have already made Maximize Your Social a textbook for their social media classes. More than happy to connect you with them if you are interested.

      Thanks again Denny – and Happy New Year!

      - Neal

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