It's been an epic year for social media marketing.
And you're probably wondering what the future holds next year.
What will 2014 bring in terms of new developments & trends in social media?
We asked several social media professionals & a few seasoned entrepreneurs what they think next year will bring for the future of social media.
Here are their replies, plus a few predictions we found around the web.
Predictions about the Future of Social Media in 2014
1. The quality of business-to-consumer communications will improve
>> Co-founder of ReelSurfer
At this point, I think everyone has begun to understand the potential of real-time communication online, but marketing strategies will evolve from a broadcast model (sharing internal content) to a more conversational one.
With a new focus on interaction, more companies & tools will be built to use conversations to engage customers & users.
>> Social media manager for MyCorporation.com & freelance writer/blogger
Social will get smarter -- this is no longer a profession where you can write a Facebook post & think that's all you have to do.
The content you produce defines your business, as well as draws in new & existing customers, so it needs to be on target, to the point and, most importantly, not repetitive or recycled.
>> Founder & CEO of REMIX Design+Media
The social universe is becoming noisier, more viral & it’s harder to get your voice seen.
How do you get noticed? You must be funny, interesting, thought provoking or very creative.
The top trends will be:
- Who is real?
- Who is making interesting content?
- Who is paying attention to world events, city events, and social events & talking about them & connecting them to your brand?
>> President at Social Climber
As the use of social media as a business tool continues to grow, I foresee companies using social media as a primary communication method, including how people ask questions & find out about new products & services.
Businesses who thought that they could ignore social media for a year longer will find themselves behind & ignored.
If you're not in front of the millions of people on social media, then you're missing huge opportunities.
2. Hyper-local, location-based campaigns will spread
>> Managing Director at Searchable.co.uk
Social media networks including Facebook & Twitter will increasingly use fans' locations through 3rd party installed apps to provide additional marketing opportunities for businesses.
Advertising on Twitter & Facebook will be more similar to Google Adwords campaigns in that you will be able to target users based on their real-time location.
This means businesses will be able to promote special offers to customers in nearby locations for example.
>> CMO at SocialRadar
With over 50% of all Internet browsing now happening on a mobile device, the next wave in social media marketing will be harnessing the power of location-based technologies.
Many folks are already checking in; the natural evolution is technology that embeds a user's location in real-time. And when brands & social media apps understand that they must create value in order to get users to share their location, the sky is the limit.
Understanding customers’ location patterns will help companies better predict the behavior of their users, thus a chance to market to them in the right place at the right time.
>> CEO at newBrandAnalytics
The latest in direct marketing is combining social media conversations with geo-fencing data to find people in your area ready to purchase goods & services.
For example, if Mary goes to her local shoe store & they don't have the shoes she wants in her size, she might post about it to Facebook.
Then a nearby competitor can respond back to her post: "Hey Mary! We've got your size waiting down the street. Show them this post & you'll get 10% off!"
That store just landed itself a new customer.
3. Micro-video & specialty sites will explode
>> CEO of No to the Quo
Video will be the new driver in content marketing.
In 2013, we saw the rise of visual content with the increased use of Pinterest & Instagram. 2014 will shine a spotlight on video marketing. Images have consistently seen a higher level of engagement on Facebook, but with changes to Facebook's news feed algorithm, images won't be the only driving factor contributing to increased page views.
>> Owner & founder of Fully Alive Life Coaching
Millennials love videos & they love storytelling. In 2014, what will be the most intriguing will be seeing how marketers integrate powerful stories in 6, 10 & 15 second videos
Mahrinah von Schlegel
>> Entrepreneur & Economic Growth Fellow for World Business Chicago
2014 is going to be a year of cross industry application & even more rapid adoption of bleeding edge technologies.
We will see even further integration of hardware & social media, with guerrilla brand marketing & early adopters leading the charge into cross media, cross platform, and cross device chimeras of marketing & lifestyle integration.
Everything is fair game for brands, and brainstorming the winning formula on emerging media can skyrocket both personal & brand success in ways we've never seen before.
>> Founder & CEO of Socialdeviant
Social Platforms will consolidate, while new content types explode. Though the next Instagram or Pinterest may not be around the corner, new content types will explode.
Vine didn't exist 9 months ago, and we'll see new content types emerging as mobile publishing tools evolve rapidly & individuals use mobile platforms to produce, share & manage their content streams.
4. Content marketing will get even bigger
>> CTO at Noise
People like video.
The lines between advertising, marketing & PR will blur further & the result will be more & more branded content in the form of videos, infographics, memes, etc.
These visual tactics will live on current & future social media platforms. People will continue to use Facebook while saying they hate it & threatening to close their account.
There will be more pictures of food & probably cats. Food & cats together is probably a bonus.
>> Founder & CEO of Socialdeviant
Marketers' shift from advertiser to always content marketer will accelerate. And the rate of change will be driven by structural shifts which will enable content to be planned, produced, syndicated, optimized & archived for future use.
The key structural change will be in organization models & design - new roles, reallocation of existing budgets, and greater emphasis on content creation as opposed to brand management
>> Content/Social Media Manager for Digital Third Coast
Exponential increase of infographics & content marketing.
As Google continues to refine its ranking factors, informative, engaging, and shareable content continues to be a key driver.
We'll see an increase in small businesses developing more blog posts & visuals to host on their site & other sites as an affordable marketing tactic that can drive site traffic, capture Web searchers, generate leads, and educate on-site visitors.
5. Mobile-friendly responsive design websites will become the norm
>> Content/Social Media Manager for Digital Third Coast
Responsive Web design to capture mobile traffic! We're now living in a world where 48% of Facebook's daily users only access it on mobile phones.
While mobile app development used to be an unattainable investment for many small businesses, responsive Web design (Web design that resizes content to fit device screen size) is an easy & affordable way for small businesses to make sure they are capturing mobile & tablet traffic.
While 2013 was called the Year of Responsive Web Design by Mashable, small businesses will continue to focus on this in 2014.
According to Internet Retailer's 2014 Mobile 500 report, mobile commerce in the U.S. will grow an estimated 63% to around $34.2 billion, up from $21 billion in 2012.
Mobile will account for nearly 13% of all U.S. e-commerce sales, up from just over 9% in 2012.
6. Short-lived content will see a boost
Warren Knight (via Social Media Today)
>> Founder of Social Media eLearning
Facebook offered fleeting video & image sharing social network SnapChat $3 billion! I don’t think it is worth what Facebook offered; however, it is clear that there is a space in the market for networks where content literally vanishes seconds after being received.
The reason for this being so popular is that it brings back fun & spontaneity that has been lost in the now commoditized world of social networking. Keep an eye on SnapChat for 2014 & for competitors coming on the scene.
7. More campaigns will be based around hashtags
Sue Reynolds (via Carmine Media)
>> Owner at Carmine Media
Since almost all of the major players in social media are using hashtags to aggregate content, with Facebook adding the functionality in June of 2013, I’m predicting more campaigns based around them rather than individual platforms.
As recent as a year ago it was typical for marketers to add their Web address & social buttons for Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc to most of their advertising collateral.
Increasingly it makes more sense to develop a unique hashtag for a campaign or brand conversations & use the tag instead of social connections, scooping up conversations wherever they take place.
8. Social media will find you as you browse
>> CEO of Hootsuite
From the beginning, social networks have been effectively walled off from the Internet. The treasure trove of content on Facebook, for instance, doesn't generally show up on Google.
But does it have to be that way?
Wouldn't it be convenient to see Twitter search results automatically displayed alongside a standard Google search, for example? And why, for instance, don't the latest tweets about a restaurant pop up when you're searching Yelp?
The competing interests of different networks sends this content behind proprietary walls, but a number of tools offer creative ways to bridge the gulf.
9. Search will become more social
Krista Neher (via ClickZ)
>> CEO of Boot Camp Digital
Social media influences search rankings. This is a fact; Google has admitted it. Yet many social marketers don't understand search, and many search marketers see social media as link-baiting & spam.
As social networks play a more important role in sending signals to search engines, search engine optimization & social media are becoming more & more linked.
In 2014, we need to become more integrated, understand each other better & optimize to maximize our results.
10. Brands will get braver on social (but will they be ready when it's too much?)
Roger Katz (via Inside Facebook)
>> Founder of Friend2Friend
Content is king in 2014 & to break through the noise & reach “uber engagement” brands will become more daring. But, what is the right level of “edge” before brands hit a “Miley Cyrus Wrecking Ball” moment?
Taco Bell had to do some fancy footwork this year to deal with the photo of an employee licking taco shells on the brand’s Facebook page. And American Apparel must certainly regret their email campaign touting a Hurricane Sandy Sale.
And, yet, in spite of these blunders, brands will continue to work harder to pioneer buzz-creating, edgy campaigns. In 2014, we can expect brands to go even more off-script & off-color in order to create content that is deemed “share-worthy” among the growing legion of youth on social media. However, one thing that will remain constant: the questions “how far is ‘far enough?’” and “how far is ‘too far?’’
OK, Nostradamus -- It's Your Turn!
As you can see, there's no shortage of 2014 predictions from social media experts.
Do you agree with their forecasts?
If not, let us know in the comments below -- where we'd love to read your predictions for the future of social media.