5 Social Media Marketing Trends for 2014

gonzogonzo
Frederic Gonzalo Owner/Partner, Gonzo Marketing

Posted on November 4th 2013

5 Social Media Marketing Trends for 2014

Halloween is behind us, American Thanksgiving is upon us and the mad dash towards the end-of-year holidays has begun. I will leave it to others to ponder on how 2013 was meaningful for businesses, small and large, as I would much rather take a look at what to expect in 2014 in terms of social media marketing. For one thing, I believe most brands now understand the impact social media can have on their business, yet many are still dealing with the challenges that come with its reality. Among some of the key concerns:

  • Generating enough content for consistent storytelling
  • Demonstrating ROI of social media initiatives
  • Allocating resources, both financial and human
  • Integrating social media interactions in a holistic CRM approach
  • Reorganizing corporate structures to deal with social media and user-generated content

These are but a few examples. A recent study conducted by Adobe showed that social media marketing remains the most important marketing area of concern for the upcoming three years. So while social media now has reached a certain level of maturity beyond the phase of “the shiny new toy with bells and whistles”, where should marketers keep an eye for the upcoming year? Will Facebook still remain king of the social media hill or will there be (another) revolution that most aren’t seeing coming? Here are five social media marketing trends to look out for in 2014.

1. FACEBOOK DOWN, TWITTER UP

Is Twitter Better Than Facebook for Targeting TeensWith its 1.18 billion users, of which close to 58% are active daily, with an average of 20 minutes per day, Facebook is certainly not disappearing anytime soon. Outside emerging markets where growth is still happening, Facebook has reached a certain plateau, with even some decreases within the younger generations, in particular the 13-17 teens. For brands, in particular small & medium businesses (SMB), it’s getting increasingly difficult to master the platform and gain a vibrant community without spending some efforts and allocating substantial efforts, both in time and money. (Read: 4 Key Elements of Your Facebook Marketing)

One thing is for sure, though: 2014 should be the year of Twitter. There fact that it will become a public company will throw the 7 year-old platform into the limelight, and with it comes public scrutiny. Many bystanders will want to better understand the platform, which should in turn convert many latent users to come back and give the platform another try. A study by Pew Internet & American conducted earlier this year found that more and more teenagers were jumping ship from Facebook to Twitter and Instagram, in great part “because there is less drama”. It’s also easier to fly under parents’ radars and have a more secretive approach on Twitter. Many brands already use Twitter, in particular in the travel & hospitality vertical, i.e. airlines, hotels, destinations, etc. Having more users join this social media should consolidate Twitter as a great customer service platform, not to mention lead generation and R&D.

2. SNAPCHAT MARKETINGsnapchat

The words “Snapchat” and “Marketing” are usually not found in the same sentence, but this may very well change in the near future. If you are not familiar with Snapchat, it’s the hot and trendy mobile application that sends out messages (text, photo or short video), called “snaps”, that auto-destruct after a short moment of time, between 1 to 10 seconds depending on how the snap was set up. As of April 2013, its 5 million active users were uploading over 150 million photos per day! There mere fact that snaps get deleted from the server after their time limit explains why so many people are embracing this new app. Its ephemeral aspect contrasts with privacy issues that are plaguing other platforms, with a “spur of the moment” side that can become an opportunity for brands. Yoghurt company 16 Handlesis thought to be the first brand that conducted a promotion using Snapchat, earlier in 2013, and a few others have experimented since. With the recent launch of Snapchat Stories (see video below), brand marketers now have an opportunity to ask customers to share their stories, or interact with them while in their store, hotel or destination, to increase engagement and share-of-wallet with in-store promotions. Snapchat marketing should be two words you’ll soon learn to combine!

Click here to view the embedded video.

3. GOOGLE+… FINALLY?

Ah, yes. Google+… Earlier this year, a study published on emarketer found that Google+ had now over 540 million active users, making it number two worldwide after Facebook. I even questioned these finding in Is Google+ Really the 2nd Most Popular Social Network? even though I never have doubted the efficiency of the platform itself. Yet, with recent changes in its search algorithm under code name Google Hummingbird, and the evolution of its popular Google Hangout functionality as a full-blown, stand-alone application, Google continues to push the envelope. Google+ remains at the very heart of its strategy, as can be seen in this very telling graphic:

How Google Plans to Dominate the Travel Sphere

So with search engine optimization techniques evolving and its importance still at the heart of marketers’ concerns, Google+ remains a very important part of the digital landscape puzzle. The question that lingers is whether Google+ will garner more mainstream attention, i.e. get folks to stick around longer, and that much sought-after time spent on the platform in order to draw advertisers and marketers attention. With over 1.5 billion photos shared weekly, there is certainly more action happening. The jury’s still out, but 2014 should be a key year for Google+.

4. COLLABORATIVE GOES MAINSTREAMairbnb

Even though sites such as AirBnB have now been around for over five years, it’s safe to say 2013 was the year when the sharing economy, or collaborative economy, made big strides in the public agora. In the past decade, with user-generated content platforms such as TripAdvisor or Yelp, individuals have had the ability and power that comes from bypassing traditional channels to voice concerns and feedback, be it negative or positive. But now, one can truly observe how the collaborative economy is truly a disruptor in the travel industry, among others. New technologies now make it so much easier for people to deal directly with other people, in what some also call the peer-to-peer movement (P2P).

In my opinion, we are just scratching the surface and I suspect we’ll be seeing new, innovative ideas and business models based on the sharing economy, where folks won’t wait for brands to answer their needs but rather address them through novel approaches. In the travel sphere, we are already seeing guided tours, transportation alternatives, home-cooked meals hosted by locals and of course the very lucrative business of renting out rooms, apartments or unique accommodation outside of traditional channels. But this trend is not unique to travel & hospitality: folks can now borrow working tools from peers, rather than buying them at Lowe’s or any known retailer.

5. VIDEOS ARE HOT, HOT, HOT!

Last but not least, videos should continue their upward ascent in the social media marketing toolbox hierarchy. In particular short videos. YouTube shows no sign of fatigue, all the contrary in fact with its 100 hours of video uploaded… every hour!! Yet for brands, the best promises come from the rise of applications such as Vine, with its 6-seconds video capabilities, and Instagram, with its 15-seconds video capabilities complete with filters and integration within Facebook.

When I attended Social Media Marketing World Event back in April, in San Diego, videos (along with blogs & podcasts) were indeed already identified as the hot marketing trends to look out for. And we are now seeing more and more companies embrace these short videos as quick, inexpensive and efficient ways to tell their brand story. Without a doubt, this is one trend we can expect to grow in 2014. If pictures tell a 1,000 words, videos can tell a million!

This is just one example, amongst many, of a brand (Pizza Hut) that used Halloween as pretext for this creative piece.

Is there a key social media marketing trend you think I should have highlighted and that’s missing from this post? Let me know in the comment box below. Looking forward to engage the conversation!

gonzogonzo

Frederic Gonzalo

Owner/Partner, Gonzo Marketing

For the past 19 years, Frederic has been in key marketing, sales & communications roles in the Canadian travel industry. He is now consultant and speaker, specializing in marketing, social media & mobile strategies. Visit his blog for more info at www.fredericgonzalo.com

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Comments

Jay DeDapper
Posted on November 4th 2013 at 10:36AM

Good thinking all through. I think Snapchat + Video is actually the big mover in the next 12 months. The trick for brands is how to tap into this visual mobile communication revolution without the control necessary to make it effective (content ownership, removing friction, etc).

gonzogonzo
Posted on November 4th 2013 at 7:38PM

Thanks for the feedback, Jay. Yeah, it will be interesting to see how brands tap into these short-video mobile communications with maximum effectiveness and originality, without scaring native users along the way... :-)

Cheers,

Jason Wardrop
Posted on November 4th 2013 at 11:29AM

Interested to know where Pinterest is headed. I'm sure it is still climbing up for 2014. 

Totally agree that more people (youth) are jumping on Twitter because it is somewhere where they can post things without their parents/grandparents seeing everything they are doing. Where these days it seems like mostly everyone has a FB profile.

gonzogonzo
Posted on November 4th 2013 at 7:36PM

Funny thing you should mention Pinterest. It was in my social media networks to look out for in 2013, and I do believe it has reached a mainstream level among the "the big 6" with FB, Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin and G+. So yet, it will be interesting to see if it keeps on climbing...

Yet, I wonder what future lies ahead for this platform for brands. I think retailers and most brands with visual appeal can certainly make the most of it, but I am noticing a certain fatigue with fellow marketers in the travel & hospitality vertical. Guess people can't be everywhere, so they must prioritize...

Cheers,

airrmedia
Posted on November 4th 2013 at 1:16PM

The first thing that I am going to say is that Twitter is my favorite social media platform. With that being said, I still think that Facebook is going to be the dominant player in social media for years to come. There are so many things that you can do on Facebook such as store your family pictures, read your news, and stay in touch with family. I am still waiting to see which social network is around the horizon and I am sure it is going be mobile based like up and comming apps like Vine, Instagram, and Snapchat. I personally like Instagram more than Vine. Great article.

gonzogonzo
Posted on November 4th 2013 at 7:33PM

Hey Ricky, thanks for the feedback. I also like Twitter a lot, but like you, tend to spend more time on Facebook since, well, all my friends are there and it's convenient. But recent data does tend to show a slowdown, in particular with younger demographics. As you say, Facebook will be around for a while, but as the saying goes, it's always tougher to stay on top than to reach that position...

Mobile native networks are definitely where the trends point, which is why I believe Snapchat and other similar platforms have a bright future ahead. Time will tell :-)

Sean Lynch
Posted on November 4th 2013 at 2:08PM

Great article Frederic!

I will say that I think a huge trend will be for brands to engage and empower their own workforces on social media.  The amplification potentital is tremendous.  We found that over 25% of personal conversations outside of work are about the company one works for or the industry they work in.  Enabling employees to share approved content to their personal networks in a controlled way has a very positive impact on employer branding, brand reach, and employee engagement.

Tools such as PostBeyond(www.postbeyond.com) are amazing for not only providing this content to employees in a seamless/effortless manner, but also have the analytics to see who is engaged and what type of content is working.  By looking no further than a company's own people, they can know the value of their messaging and instantly see ROI with CPC rates that are a fraction of other channels.

gonzogonzo
Posted on November 4th 2013 at 7:29PM

Sean, that's an excellent point you make. Indeed, a company's workforce is a under-used powerhouse to drive content and engage meaningful conversations, in particular since peers tend to know these folks are "in-the-know" since they work for the brand. Not sure if organizations will embrace it more in 2014 than in the past, but here's to hoping so :-)

Cheers,

bbmcKinney
Posted on November 4th 2013 at 9:35PM

Video is making an impact when it comes to your marketing. If you haven't already, it's time to consider using video to market your business. 

Adella Choi
Posted on November 5th 2013 at 3:07PM
Hi Fredetric. Nicely said here! As you mentioned about visual content, I’d like to add the rapid growth of photo sharing sites like Pinterest and Slideshares that proves the power and viral potential of images. Personally I've found infographics to be the most engaging type of content in our own marketing. Infographic-sharing websites like Visually have helped us drive a ton of referral clicks to our site.
gonzogonzo
Posted on November 5th 2013 at 6:03PM

Very valid point, Adella. I did mention Pinterest and Instagram in my 2013 outlook, but I believe Pinterest will reach a maturity point, and not sure what's in the future for them next year. One thing is for sure: visual content remains very strong, so infographics, sites like Visual.ly, Pinterest and other networks that bank on this phenomenon are bound to stay top-of-mind with users, so marketers need to pay attention.

Thanks for the feedback!

skibility
Posted on November 6th 2013 at 11:17AM

Hi Frederic, Thaks for your insight.I love observing the ebb and flow of the different platforms. I'll be  especially interested in seeing how Google+ grows. It takes groups that engage with the platform to make it work. A few people in your groups doesn't make for a very engaging experience! 

It's the continual battle for the time and eyeballs of users. 

Thanks for the great article.

Doug Moore

gonzogonzo
Posted on November 6th 2013 at 9:44PM

You're welcome, Doug.

Indeed, the challenge for G+ is to get that critical mass of folks in groups to make conversationg engaging and meaningful in order for it to become sticky. We'll see if 2014 is the year this trend comes to life, right?

Cheers,

Frederic

allenspeaks
Posted on November 14th 2013 at 3:35PM

Always good to know what is on the horizon.  I am always amazed in an article like this when LinkedIn in virtually overlooked.  If you are B2C that is understandable but any B2B entity not heavily using LinkedIn is missing the boat.  Even for those using LinkedIn the enormity of its potential is often underexplored.

Teresa Allen
Customer Service Author and Keynote Speaker