2014 Social Media Predictions From 27 Experts
With over 70% of the US online population using at least one social network regularly, social media is an integral part of people’s lives and daily media consumption.
Increasingly, social media is a staple of most marketing plans. In some firms, social media has extended beyond marketing and communications to the entire organization, often known as social business.
2014 Social Media Forecasts – 27 experts
To better understand where social media is headed in 2014 and what it means for B2B, B2C, Not-For-Profit and solopreneur businesses, here are 67 social media forecasts for 2014 provided by 27 top social media experts.
- Social media will become a fully integrated part of a brand’s marketing and communications plan. At Arment Dietrich, social media has become “Shared Media” – and it’s a part of our overall Shared, Earned, Owned strategy for ourselves and our clients. The days of social media being a separate entity – identity even – are gone. Companies need to realize how important it is to integrate social into every part of their marketing and communications plans of 2014. Lindsay Bell & Laura Petrolino - Arment Dietrich, Inc.
- Online and offline will become more collaborative. Although over the past few years many brands have been working tirelessly to extend social engagement past the digital space, it has tended to be a rather clunky and non-intuitive endeavor. 2014 will bring the rise of more seamless transmedia experiences, which will allow consumers to step from digital to real world in a more natural and beneficial way. This will also allow social to take a stronger role in actual offline purchase decisions, past just a brand awareness aspect. Lindsay Bell & Laura Petrolino - Arment Dietrich, Inc.
- Video will become more engaging and interactive. Brands will have a great opportunity to not only to tell their story, but also to do so in a way that provides viewers with the ability to continue the interaction past the initial touchpoint. The launch of Facebook video ads is the beginning of a new outlet for organizations to target video messaging based on the consumer’s behavior and/or self selection criteria. It will appeal to our increasingly short attention spans and need for active media. Lindsay Bell & Laura Petrolino - Arment Dietrich, Inc.
- Opportunities around big data will require tying together multiple databases. The web offers marketers non-traditional data types around the social graph, intent graph, consumption graph, interest graph and mobile graph. Connie Benson – Dell
- Marketers will need to continue their focus on mobile. Econsultancy predicts that spend on mobile ads will rise to 40% in 2017. Connie Benson – Dell
- Shares, not views. People will start realizing that views can be bought; it’s shares that are valuable. So more attention to what makes people share and less attention to the view count. Jonah Berger – Wharton Professor, author of Contagious: Why Things Catch On
- Forget 10 million views, turn customers into advocates. One-off hits are fine, but people will start realizing that ongoing engagement is what matters. Increasing the share rate on all content, whether it has 10 views or 10,000. Jonah Berger – Wharton Professor; author of Contagious: Why Things Catch On
- Not just viral, valuable virality. 10 million views is great, but if it’s not encouraging people to purchase at the end of the day, it doesn’t help the company or brand. So linking social to sales will be key Jonah Berger – Wharton Professor; author of Contagious: Why Things Catch On
- Predictive marketing trumps real-time marketing. Proactivity will gain currency over reactivity. David Berkowitz – MRY
- Snapchat comes out with some kind of marketing-driven monetization model, as well as in-app upgrades, but on a limited rollout for marketers to create more demand for 2015. David Berkowitz – MRY
- The rich keep getting richer with acquisitions. Beyond Oracle, Salesforce, and Adobe acquiring more of the top B2B social media tech and service companies, Google, Yahoo, IBM, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and others get hungrier and grab a record number of such companies. David Berkowitz – MRY
- Social media becomes less interesting as social business and social selling strategy take center stage. Michael Brenner – SAP and B2B Marketing Insider
- Personal branding continues to become a key training and enablement requirement of the social business. Michael Brenner – SAP and B2B Marketing Insider
- Customer-centricity becomes a key cultural theme for 2014. The main job of the CMO is to drive a customer-centric culture for marketing and the organization at large. Emotion beats promotion every time. Michael Brenner – SAP and B2B Marketing Insider
- Public relations, SEO and social media will begin to connect the dots and collaborate more. Lisa Buyer – Author of Social PR Secrets
- Senior marketers will finally realize that SEO, SMO and CRO are meaningful. They will learn the new jargon and not rely on the boiler rooms to handle marketing info that is very relative to today’s boardroom. Lisa Buyer – Author of Social PR Secrets
- Data will become even more cluttered before it’s uncluttered. Lisa Buyer – Author of Social PR Secrets
- I think (and hope) that we are finally going to see smart companies realizing that they need to do more than build followings on various social networks and finally start building a real community with their customers. C.C. Chapman – YSN; author of Amazing Things Will Happen & co-author of Content Rules.
- For years I’ve been preaching not to build so much on rented land and the recent Facebook changes drove this point home to lots of people and there was panic. Hopefully this drives more companies to look at their web pages and everything they create to make sure they own the relationship rather than Mark Zuckerberg owning it. C.C. Chapman – YSN; author of Amazing Things Will Happen & co-author of Content Rules.
- Instagram will double in size. Facebook has left it alone and it’ thriving. Imagery and micro video will continue to grow rapidly and Instagram has both. Ian Cleary – Razor Social
- Social search will become increasingly important and we’ll see significant growth in social media sales through it. Using social search we will be actively searching for products, services so it makes perfect sense that there will be sales. Facebook will roll out their graph search globally and make significant improvements this year and it’s likely that Twitter will also be bring out a complete replacement to its advanced search. Ian Cleary – Razor Social
- Social advertising will become the norm. It will be very difficult to be successful without some social advertising budget. Ian Cleary – Razor Social
- Context matters. It’s critical as social media action goes mobile (and on to the Internet of Things). This will mean that mobile and television integration with social media will be considered a 2013 event. Therefore marketers must consider supplying information from their content marketing strategy for the range of connected devices with easy-to-consume content as well as longer format information to meet different content needs. Heidi Cohen – Actionable Marketing Guide
- Pay to play social media will increase. Like Facebook, social media platforms will need to find on-going revenue streams to maintain their growth. This means native advertising will increase and there will be opportunities for new platforms where smart companies can build cost-effectively. This increased social media related expense will translate to greater pressure to show directly measureable results in the form of lead generation and sales. Concurrently, this will give rise to a set of experts who excel at organic social media results. Heidi Cohen – Actionable Marketing Guide
- Social media gets down to business as it’s integrated into overall marketing and business plans. Think in terms of acquiring leads and closing sales proved with solid metrics. Will require strong quality follow through. It’s no longer a numbers game. This means wrangling big data and coordinating. This will require quality content that’s integrated into your purchase funnel and prove its worth with solid metrics. Heidi Cohen – Actionable Marketing Guide
- Ads will appear on Google+ in 2014. Andy Crestodina – Orbit Media; author of Content Chemistry.
- Twitter will get more aggressive with sponsored content and advertising. Andy Crestodina – Orbit Media; author of Content Chemistry.
- There will be more experiments in the integration between social media and TV. Traditional media producers are getting much smarter about curating bits of social media content. Look for innovation there. Andy Crestodina – Orbit Media; author of Content Chemistry.
- Facebook content and data will become more open. People are more familiar with sharing publicly via Twitter and Instagram, and thus opening more posts to the public. Sam Decker – Mass Relevance
- Hashtag campaigns will increase. Hashtags are now ubiquitous across social networks. I’m already seeing more on Facebook. Brands and media companies will tie into the familiarity with hashtags and allow their audience to participate on any platform. Sam Decker – Mass Relevance
- Social integration will become a key priority for brands. Media has led the way integrating social into their properties (web, TV, apps). Brands as content marketers will enable their customers voice to come through their content and advertising campaigns. As well as sponsor aforementioned media social integrations. Sam Decker – Mass Relevance
- Microsoft will try again for a social network play. After Microsoft’s failed So.cl launch, they’ll attempt a new social network that is intricately tied into their operating system. Pawan Deshpande – Curata
- The cry for better models of value determination in social media are growing and growing. I interview dozens of brand marketers each quarter, and I hear this in most of those interviews. Ric Dragon of Dragon Search; author of Social Marketology.
- The continuing rise of the use of social advertising to give a bump to social media activities. Ha! You thought all of those social platforms were being built out of the kindness of someone’s heart – no way – they’re out to make money, and brands are where that money is coming from. Watch out for more integrated advertising in Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Ric Dragon of Dragon Search; author of Social Marketology.
- And speaking of LinkedIn – it’s undergone massive changes. The showcase pages are one of the latest enhancements. It only takes a little imagination to see what this will mean when coupled with targeted LinkedIn advertising. Ric Dragon of Dragon Search; author of Social Marketology.
- Marketers will have to work harder on their content strategy. There is so much content being spread all over social media, that being “good enough” is not going to do the trick anymore. We’ll have to deliver outstanding content. Emeric Ernoult – AgoraPulse
- Looking at Social Media as a broadcasting channel will be less and less effective. We’ll have to learn how to leverage social media for CRM purposes. Social media has always been about creating, nurturing and leveraging relationships, but oddly enough, this has not been an area where brands have done a very good job. It takes more time and resources than just broadcasting content through automated platforms, for sure, but I think the market is ready to invest more in that direction. Emeric Ernoult – AgoraPulse
- Marketers will learn how to leverage paid campaigns on social media and will get used to it. Better, they’ll start to realize it can be even more effective than the free organic results they used to get! Emeric Ernoult – AgoraPulse
- Hashtags get unified. Brands will acknowledge that their consumers live on multiple social channels simultaneously and popularize a single hashtag to unify brand messaging across marketing channels in an effort to encourage consumers to insert brands into the conversation. Apu Gupta – Curalate
- Social goes beyond social. For most marketers, social is still about racking up likes and hopefully clicks. But social is increasing chock full of social cues that are an incredibly powerful indicator of the actual products that consumers care about. Just ask Nordstrom that was noted in 2013 using Pinterest as a way of determining what products to prominently display in their physical stores. In 2014, we’ll see more brands start to tap into the richness of this social data to drive real business decisions. Apu Gupta – Curalate
- User generated brand love. Brands are like celebrities in the eyes of adoring consumers. Unfortunately, most brands give their loyal consumers the cold shoulder on social. User generated content will give consumers the opportunity to share the stage with their favorite brands. Retailers like Urban Outfitters and brands like Rebecca Minkoff are already integrating user-generated content into their websites to celebrate fans and to turn browsers into buyers. When fans get to see their Instagram photos featured prominently on the websites of their favorite brands, fans go wild. And for consumers who get to see the authentic street stylings of enthusiastic consumers, the inspiration compels browsers to click through to purchase. Apu Gupta – Curalate
- I really just have one prediction for social media in 2014, and it is that all of the top social networks will lower organic reach for brands in some fashion in order to turn more businesses onto their advertising programs. Facebook is already doing it – it’s just a matter of time before Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest follow suit. Twitter has been improving their ad platform, LinkedIn introduced sponsored updates, and Pinterest is working on sponsored pins. Once they have their ad platforms set, they won’t want to give businesses traffic for free anymore. Kristi Hines – Blog Post Promotion
- Niche networks will prevail. The need to save time and energy in navigating through the amassing amounts of content being produced is pushing people away from mainstream and even closer to niche networks and influencers. Kelly Hungerford – Paper.li
- Social listening goes mainstream. Companies, brands and people will no longer list “listening” as something to do. Instead it will be considered a part of the job. The “listening” aspects of social media will push past the more traditional roles of Community Manager, Social Marketing, Communication and PR to make its way and home Product Management, Product Development, Product Marketing and innovation departments. Kelly Hungerford – Paper.li
- Google+ will sprout wings. As Facebook clamps down on money making advertising activities, clever companies will shift gears and move to Google+ to take advantage of low competition in terms of no advertising. Brands have a chance to stake out vast pieces of real estate. Vanguard mutual funds as an excellent example; they dared to venture out to G+ just under a year ago and are currently in over 800,000 circles. Kelly Hungerford – Paper.li
- More automation and as a consequence more people filtering out the automation (e.g. using Tweetbot) Nick Kellet – Listly
- People will crave putting the social back in social media. Nick Kellet – Listly
- A bigger role for the consumer. UGC is on the rise. Brands are still just learning the ropes. Nick Kellet – Listly
- Pay to play. More and more companies will pay Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to promote their posts, as these companies need to monetize. Dave Kerpen of Likeable Media; author of Likeable Business & Likeable Social Media.
- Twitter world. Twitter’s IPO causes “real people” to finally join the marketers, media and celebs on Twitter in huge numbers. Dave Kerpen of Likeable Media; author of Likeable Business & Likeable Social Media.
- LinkedIn opens up its blogging platform to its entire userbase, expanding its influencer program, and effectively becoming the default professional blogging platform. Dave Kerpen of Likeable Media; author of Likeable Business & Likeable Social Media.
- Fragmentation will continue in 2014 and its pace will accelerate, with more and more consumers moving away from Facebook and participating in smaller, more niche social platforms. Of course Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest are important channels to consider, but marketers will also need to pay attention to platforms like Snapchat, Waze, Tripadvisor, Colour Lovers, and a multitude of others that may be particularly relevant to their industry & audience. Orli LeWinter – 360i
- Social media will cease to be managed in a silo, as marketers realize that it is intrinsically tied to everything they’re doing to build their brand, from PR to customer service to product development to sales to, of course, marketing. Agencies that just do “social marketing” or “content creation” without expertise in social PR, social customer service, social insights, etc. are going to be at a disadvantage, and likewise marketers who aren’t thinking about it in an integrated way will be left behind. Orli LeWinter – 360i
- Paid, earned and owned will converge even further in the social media space. It will be impossible to succeed in social without a strategic approach to all three as they function in an intertwined way. Orli LeWinter – 360i
- Native Advertising and real-time ads will make their way into more and more social media places due to the success of Oreos on the Super Bowl. Rob Peterson – BarnRaisers; contributor to Strategic Digital Marketing
- Expect big increases in location-based marketing due to rise of social network usage on mobile devices. Rob Peterson – BarnRaisers; contributor to Strategic Digital Marketing
- Brand recommendations from friends will receive more credible quantifications to increase ad revenues in social networks. Rob Peterson – BarnRaisers; contributor to Strategic Digital Marketing
- In the rush for marketers to be everywhere in social media, more brands will take a strategic look at social media and start to put resources into the “few” and discard the “more”. Better said, marketers will stop all the experimentation and start to put investment behind those platforms that are proven to work. Joe Pulizzi of Content Marketing Institute; author of Epic Content, Managing Content Marketing & Get Content Get Customers.
- More brands will be using social media for lead generation—as the social sites continue to serve up functionality well-suited for businesses, such as improved analytics and more ways to capture new leads, social media will become one of the number one lead gen channels for both B2C and B2B marketers. Dayna Rothman - Marketo; author of Lead Generation for Dummies (Release: March 2014)
- Businesses will delve deeper into Instagram—because content marketing is becoming increasingly visual and Instagram offers new ad capabilities for businesses, more companies will find themselves spending time optimizing the platform. Dayna Rothman – Marketo; author of Lead Generation for Dummies (Release: March 2014)
- Businesses will put emphasis on recruiting social-savvy job candidates with a virtual “book of business”—as social media continues to become more and more important for businesses, companies will start to require job candidates to have a presence on social media channels. A Twitter “book of business” of thousands of followers will become a hot selling point and a way for companies to increase their thought leadership. Dayna Rothman – Marketo; author of Lead Generation for Dummies (Release: March 2014)
- Employee advocacy will become a strategic initiative for more and more large (and some small) companies. Companies are always looking for brand ambassadors on social media, but many of their most passionate advocates are their employees. Each employee has influence in their own unique social network, so the more employees that share a company’s social media messages, the broader the company’s overall social media reach. The exponential power of employee advocacy (such as GaggleAMP, PeopleLinx, and Addvocate) is beginning to be realized and will breakout in 2014 despite its challenges. Neal Schaffer – Author of Maximize Your Social
- Google+ will finally win respect from the social media marketing community. Once companies realize Google+ is not only a community like other social networks, but also it’s a social layer for all things Google with many entryways leading into G+, it becomes a no-brainer. The ability to use Hangouts to engage via video with customers and 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+. Neal Schaffer – Author of Maximize Your Social
- Mobile Personal. The final trend is one I have seen evolving rapidly in Asia in terms of the Japanese mobile communications app, LINE and the Chinese mobile communications app, WeChat. These 2 apps came out of nowhere and have grown to more than 300 million registered users in 2013. As we spend more time on mobile devices, we’re changing our communication habits and our social media use. For many, social media is evolving back into a personal communication-centric platform. For these social media users, it’s 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. 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. Neal Schaffer – Author of Maximize Your Social
- Paid social becomes a requirement for social media marketers. As social networks become more accountable to public shareholders, they will begin implementing “traditional” business models requiring that marketers “pay to play.” The organic marketing benefits of social media will continue to decline. Social networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn will slowly introduce special features only to paying customers and reduce the benefits of organic activity. Learn the paid side of social or be left behind. This shift will require marketers to go beyond engagement marketing strategies and deeply understand the paid side of social. Those that ignore paid social media will fall behind their competitors. Mike Stelzner – Social Media Examiner; author of Launch
- Social filtration will become a much bigger deal. Content is getting produced and published at an insane rate. So much so that even with the filtration systems we have right now (Twitter lists, Google+ circles, news feed algorithms etc) it’s increasingly difficult to distinguish the signal from the noise. I hope a method of filtration emerges that factors elements like blog author, semantic language analysis, and previous social data (+1’s, Likes, RTs). This filter will be implemented on the browser level eliminating all the stuff in which you’re not interested. With this technology, publishers could stop resorting to sugary “tricks” to get social traffic and instead focus on connecting the content with real people. Tommy Walker – Online Marketing Strategist
- Smart marketers will start really paying attention to social intelligence data. I’m astonished at how few marketers use the free tools available to them. For example, go to Facebook and type [Books liked by fans of “Your Page”] to see what your fans are reading. Keep digging to look at their other activities until a pattern you can use emerges. This pattern will tell you a story about what appeals to your customers that can be used to develop creative in line with their sense of humor, intelligence, and sense of personal style. Tommy Walker – Online Marketing Strategist
Across these diverse 2014 social media forecasts, there are consistent themes. Among them are expanded use of connected devices including smartphones, tablets, televisions and beyond, more diverse use of social media platforms, increased need for social media advertising, need to engage with customers to drive sales, and the integration of social media data.
What other 2014 social media forecasts would you add to this list and why would you include them? (In case you’re interested, here are our 2015 social media predictions.)
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2015 is going to be a great year for social marketers, but to make the most of it you'll need a fine-tuned social strategy. This guide is your countdown to the New Year with ten fresh tactics based on the 2014 trends expected to shape the coming year, and ways you can refine your brand's social strategy for success.
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