2013 Marketing Highlights: Social Media, Content & Mobile

7 Key Marketing Events of 2013

2013 Highlights - Social media content marketing mobile The 2013 highlights marked by the changes on social media, content marketing and mobile (or more broadly connected devices,) laid the groundwork for 2014 to be the year of context marketing.

Here are 7 of 2013 marketing highlights in social media, content marketing and mobile. (BTW—they align very well with our 2013 marketing predictions as well as some of the 2013 extreme predictions from the experts!)

Social Media, Content Marketing and Mobile 1. Facebook reaches its pinnacle (before it turns down).

For Facebook, 2013 was the best of times and the worst of times. But more importantly, 2013 was the turning point that begs the question: Is Facebook the AOL of the twenty-teens? 

Facebook’s stock price ended the year at its highest point since its IPO. This growth is largely based on its mobile advertising revenues. However, with half of their audience on mobile already and limited display space, Facebook’s ability to grow revenues is limited .

On the other side of the ledger, Facebook’s lost ground with its key demographic: teens. Many of them have been on the social media platform since they were in middle school. As a result, for them, Facebook is both kid stuff and old hat, a deadly combination for reaching this market that wants the new, new thing adults don’t know about. Yes, teens check Facebook but they do so for the same reason their parents and grandparents do—to keep up with what their friends and peers are doing.

Adding to Facebook’s challenges is that, while Instagram has provided competitive offerings to to match what Vine and Snapchat offer, these me-too products are still imitations – not new innovations.

If audience erosion and copycat products weren’t bad enough, on December 11, 2013, US District Judge Robert Sweet ruled that investors could pursue claims that Facebook should have disclosed, prior to its May, 2012 IPO, internal projections on how increased mobile usage would reduce future revenue. According to Reuters, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg is one of the 40 defendants in the suits.

2. We wonder if Twitter is faking it?

Despite its successful IPO and its use by television shows to drive real time audiences, Twitter experienced some major challenges in 2013.

Want to increase your Twitter following? Just fake it. Not quite the transparency social media expects. Research earlier this year showed that fake accounts made up 4% to 10% of Twitter’s user base. Oops!

As a mass, time-sensitive communication where journalists and marketers check for trending topics, Twitter isn’t reliable. Research on tweets from the Boston Marathon revealed that only 20% of the content on Twitter was true information. In other words, 4 out of 5 tweets were misinformation or generic information without value.

3. Mobile usage beats forecasts.

Across social media, content sites and media entities, mobile usage far out distanced projections. With smartphone ownership in the US crossing the 50% mark in 2012, this shouldn’t have been as much of a surprise as it was for many of these entities.

Mobile devices are ideal for quick, on-the-go info, whether it’s checking product information and prices, content grazing between other activities, or keeping tabs on family and friends while multi-tasking.

Facebook is the poster child for this type of activity. Its easy-to-consume, bite-size information has propelled 50% of their users to interact via mobile devices.

4. Content marketing grows up and takes its place at the marketing table.

Content marketing reached a tipping point in 2012 and went mainstream in 2013. Content provided useful information that prospects and customers sought without the marketing promotion.

This expansion translated to a redistribution of marketing and business resources, both employees and budget.

In part, this growth was driven by expanded social media use that created a need for increased new, quality content. Need help? Here’s the best content marketing advice ever!

Further, consumers increased their content consumption through a variety of methods including multi-tasking, snacking and delayed viewing. This translated to more efficient content intake with less noise and advertising.

5. 2013 was the year of the image (including video).

Great, easy-to-use cameras and related apps to modify and enhance photos became available in every mobile device, both smartphones and tablets. This made images the content marketing format of choice in 2013. The ability to share these snackable content shots across social media platforms with just a few swipes and at no cost further accelerated the trend to employ photographs and graphic information as core content marketing elements.

While Facebook is the major repository of photographs, other image based social media entities also took off. The new kid on the block, Snapchat, broke through its teenager following and gained mainstream notice.

The ability to take quality self-portraits made selfie the 2013 word of the year! This practice extends beyond teens to high profile politicians and others of note.

Additionally, videos were increasingly shot and shared. While YouTube remains the 800 pound gorilla of the video space, even shorter form videos gained traction with Twitter’s introduction of Vine and Instagram’s competitive offering.

6. Social media continues to attract investors.

Social media continues to be sexy, attracting money and recent grads.
2013 showed that there are a number of ways to keep your nascent business growing.

  • Get bought by a major company. Yahoo purchased Tumblr with the promise to leave it alone.
  • Go public. Twitter under experienced CEO Dick Costello went public.
  • Stay private. Snapchat turned down high priced offers. The big question is will it continue to grow and survive or will it devolve like Groupon?

7. Native advertising wants to be legit.

Native advertising has taken on different forms on different social media and content marketing platforms. As such, native advertising is attractive to brands because it blurs the line as to what is true content and what is promotion.

Specifically, native advertising is defined as a form of digital advertising where the brand or firm inserts paid promotional content into the user experience. This information is often unique to the specific platform. As a result, it attracts attention by appearing to be natural, non-promotional content.

In December, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) released their Native Advertising Playbook defining best practices for the $3 billion format to coincide with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) workshop on the topic.

These 2013 highlights, in terms of social media, content marketing and mobile, have set the stage for context marketing to grow in 2014.

What other 2013 highlights would you add to this list and why?

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen


Heidi CohenHeidi Cohen is the President of Riverside Marketing Strategies. You can find Heidi on , Facebook and .

Join me & Kevin Spacey at Content Marketing World 2014 CMW14_468x60 Meet me in real life at CMW 2014 in Cleveland.

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  • http://www.eBizROI.com Rick Noel, eBiz ROI, Inc.

    Interesting post Heidi. Regarding Facebook, one has to wonder if/when they will go the way of MySpace. I would have guessed fake accounts on Twitter were more than 4-10%.

    Google+ gained some traction in 2013 and with the rapid growth in mobile and therefore Android, one could say that Google+ is poised for a potential breakout in 2014 IMHO.

    Thanks for sharing.

    • heidicohen

      Rick-

      Thank you for your feedback!

      Facebook has big challenges for 2014 and beyond that are more than surface deep. While they can gain audience in new locations, they’ve come close to saturation in their core markets and key elements just use it to keep up with their peers. As Henry Blodget points out, most of the money is already online globally.

      While the projected number of fake Twitter accounts may vary, the fact that it’s above a statistical error rate makes it a real issue with which Twitter contend or they’ll loose business support in the form of advertising.

      Unlike other social media platforms, Google+ has the luxury of taking its time to gain traction. Its got the power of Google (including YouTube and Android, the growing mobile system worldwide) behind it. This means marketers are missing an opportunity if they’re not on Google+ and growing their position.

      Happy marketing,
      Heidi Cohen

  • http://sproutsocial.com/features/social-media-engagement Sarah @ Sprout Social

    Great insights, Heidi! That’s really interesting news regarding Sheryl Sandberg possibly being able to pursue a claim against Facebook. Though I see Facebook usage continuing to decrease, I can’t imagine another single platform completely replacing it. I think audiences will be scattered and become more niche based on specific interests.

    I agree that 2014 will entail more native advertising. I see brands finding creative ways to make it more engaging too- and actually garnering genuine interest.

    I think privacy was, and will continue to be a big factor in social. With Facebook changing their settings every so often, ensuring some things are private is very important to many. I can see Snapchat growing in popularity because of this.

    • heidicohen

      Sarah– To clarify, Sheryl Sandberg is a named defendant in the Facebook trial(s). This means that the claim is against her! Notably, Mark Zuckerberg was not named. Happy marketing, Heidi Cohen

  • Michael Bian

    Great point and insights!