It doesn’t take much to change your online habits. One day you’re sharing kitten photos on Facebook and before you know it you’re checking your Instagram feed at least 10 times a day for new recipes. Don’t expect things to slow down anytime in 2014.
While we could always be thrown for a curve, a lot of next year’s forecasts stem from changes that occurred in 2013, including the launch of Vine, Snapchat and Google’s continued expansion of Google+. All these changes have started impacting the way marketers run their programs and allocate their time and resources.
So what will social media marketers be doing in 2014? No one knows for sure, but these five social media trends give a good idea of what a typical campaign will look like.
More Employee Participation
As more people move to their social networks to buy things and research products, the social media manager will only be able to handle so much of it. People in other departments will be expected to reach out as well. In 2014, expect organizations to transfer more of their communications and businesses processes to social media.
You can already see this happening. CEOs and other executives write blogs. For example, the popular mustang parts company CJ Pony Parts has their employees weigh in with expertise articles on their blog:
Marketers take part in webinars and other online events. HR professionals scan professional networks like LinkedIn for talent. Customer and technical service e reps answer customer questions on Facebook and Twitter. Social media is no longer a fringe channel — it’s now where business happens.
Social Media Coursework
Proficiency in Word and Excel used to be appreciated, but not necessary. Today, you couldn’t even get hired without it. The same is happening with social media. As it evolves into a valuable business tool, companies expect their employees to use it regularly. That’s why you’ll see more social media classes popping up in 2014.
As early as 2012, the media was covering the growth of social media training at global companies like PepsiCo and Adidas. It’s no surprise then that schools are following suit. High school teachers have started incorporating social media into their curricula and course delivery and a few colleges have even started offering social media or digital marketing certificates and degrees.
Social media marketing is getting bigger, and yes, that means more demand for social media savants. They’ll be expected to churn out more content in more channels, while still delivering personalized experiences. The only way businesses can juggle both of these time-consuming tasks simultaneously is to automate more of them.
New research shows that 53% of marketers are using some form of marketing automation and another 17% are considering it. They use it for all kinds of reasons, including higher ROI, better quality leads and greater control over their programs. Whatever the reason, increased pressure to perform will drive more social media departments to invest in a technical edge.
A Video Explosion
Thanks to smartphones, everyone is a videographer and they love sharing their work wherever they can. At the same time, the number of video channels continues to grow and the debate over the effectiveness of video in marketing is pretty much over. These two trends should drive the increased use of video in the coming year.
Many eCommerce stores are taking advantage of video integration. Think about it, if you had two options to buy the same product from two different websites, would you choose the site that has a video demo for the product or the site that doesn’t? For example, on Havahart’s animal repellent section we find video demos that make the product page more of an educational resource than simply a typical product:
Instagram, the second-most popular social site among teens, now has video capabilities. Micro-video service Snapchat is hot among teens and young adults, and YouTube’s audience keeps getting bigger. Video is already a big part of B2B marketing, but its popularity among young people will turn it into a must-do within the next few years.
If you thought social media was the last refuge from ads, think again. The audiences on sites like Facebook and Twitter are simply too large to ignore, and their targeting capabilities are getting better and better. Not surprisingly, 64% of marketers said they expected to increase social media ad spend in 2013, reaching $14 billion by 2014.
There are very creative ways to integrate self-ads; advertisements on your own website that help convert visitors. A great example is the homepage of Pool Guard USA, where a video of a nice woman greets new visitors:
Nearly all social sites reported great results from social media advertising, but another important factor may be driving this: mobile. As of now, about half of all social media activity happens on mobile devices and mobile ads perform better than their desktop counterparts. Going into next year, marketers will chase this trend in order to get more out of every advertising dollar.
By now your 2014 marketing plans should be in place. Make sure they’re keeping up with the times — make room in your budget for these trends.
Written by Jesse Aaron. Jesse is a professional blogger with a passion for homebrewing.