It is quite hard to determine what the biggest single change in the social media sphere was in 2013, although there are articles recapping 2013 through major points, transitions and alterations.
So, what do the coming 12 months or so mean for businesses, brands and social media? One thing we’re sure of is that it will result in plenty of the inevitable change that fills each and every year. Let us take a look at our top predictions for 2014.
Pay to play
Trends would suggest that we are going to see increased pressure on companies to pay to increase their posts visibility. Facebook has altered its news feed algorithms making it harder to rank higher for longer via organic search. Twitter is going that way too mainly thanks to its new public company status and Google has also announced it will be including paid adverts on its Google+ platform.
Social in 2014 is going to be a pay to play scenario and so those with larger budgets are going to have a big advantage. In short, SMEs are going to struggle to garner customers’ attention using tactics that rely on quantity over quality.
Of course, that doesn’t mean we’re going to see SMEs fall by the wayside completely. Alter and adapt is going to be the mantra for 2014 and small businesses are going to need to do this to stay on top.
Facebook in particular is monetising aggressively and in essence this is the face of things to come across other networks. Small businesses are going to have to scrap the old spammier ways of achieving success on the news feed.
One of the easiest ways to succeed is for SMEs to listen more to their fans and use them to reach out to others. By finding those fans or advocates who are impressed with your product and making more of them on Facebook, you are creating content that users care about and want to share with others. People like to read about people – so utilise this simple psychological factor in 2014.
Facebook offers a form of word of mouth marketing, so by creating useful and alluring content that is centred on real people; you create interest in your brand and business. Create quality content on your site or blog and use these social networks to drive traffic to your pages. Useful, well-researched content is worthy of investment and will bring success across all your networks.
It is not just customer advocates you need to make more of in 2014, but also your most eager employees. Businesses often forget their employees are among the most passionate people they have on their side.
Every employee that works for a business has their own personal social media relationships. Your employees are influencers and so by realising this and capitalising on it you can extend your social media message. Expect to see this occur a lot more in 2014.
Move from paid
For every reaction there’s an opposite reaction and here at mysocialagency, we have seen consumers move away from the sponsored messages and banner adverts of the largest social media networks. This should culminate in consumers moving towards sites such as Snapchat, Vine and others without adverts and the aggressive monetisation. In turn, marketers are also going to make the transition to these sites to take advantage of this transition.
Social media users’ scepticism towards the lack of authenticity of sponsored messages and paid for posts may also create an increased focus on the advertorial. It’s a savvier and less brash form of advertising than the native kind that social media is now adopting. So, expect to see a lot more social media marketing under the guise of ‘journalism’ in 2014 as businesses try and create a perception of something other than aggressive pay to play.
One of the big watersheds of 2013 was the Oreo Super Bowl advert – it was the ultimate real-time marketing coup. Real-time marketing is going to be a lot bigger in 2014 and expect to see more timely and relevant content in the moment around big TV programs, sports events and awards. This will also mean an increased focus on preparation for the second screen beforehand and contingency plans for different occurrences prepared beforehand.
The rise of real-time marketing also means that social listening is no longer an option but more of a necessity. Brands will now realise that if they truly wish to engage their audiences in both the real time and over the long term, they’ll need to listen into their customers’ sentiments and then decide on a course of action.
Social listening is particularly important in the increasing wake of paid adverts. Big budgets will go on social media adverts and posts and companies will want to make the most of the money they spend, meaning listening is to become a prerogative.
In addition, 2014 will herald improved metrics for brands that introduce paid and sponsored posts. Twitter will most likely introduce an in-depth group of analytics Tools for measurement somewhat similar to Facebook’s Insights. Expect more networks to introduce more metrics and analytics as they monetise their sites.
So we can expect plenty of change in 2014 as increased monetisation of social sites and new marketing realisations and technology make the difference.
What is your top prediction for social in 2014? Let me know via the comments or grab me on Twitter.