The end of a year, and beginning of a new one, is always a fun-filled time for marketers. On one hand, there's a deep sense of reflection around the year that was - or wasn't - and a heightened sense of optimism filled with new objectives which lie in the year ahead.
Going into 2014, there were many bold predictions around the future state of social media: the rising popularity of SnapChat amongst Millennials while Facebook became adopted by a more "mature" audience and it's ever-changing algorithm made it harder for brands to reach their communities organically, the so-called demise of Google Plus which never came to fruition thanks to Google Hangouts, Pinterest increasingly growing popularity amongst women and wearable technology being the "now" - remember Google Glass of 2013?
Whether 2015 promises to be a mobile-first, social media driven year for brands and the people who work behind the scenes for them, social media is no longer considered "new" - it plays a major role in the lives of billions of people globally, who they trust, how they communicate and make buying decisions.
To find out what social marketers may expect, I asked over 30+ social media influencers on what they view as forthcoming in the year ahead.
Here's what they had to say.
@GaryVee: Instagram will be the dominate platform when it comes to people actually seeing the content. Snapchat will have more 30 - 45 year old users than people think. Facebook video will be a serious player and a close #2 to YouTube.
@DaveKerpen: Slideshare will grow and emerge, along with LinkedIn, as the key social platform for B2B. B2B Marketers will abandon YouTube in favor of Slideshare and Vimeo.
@tamcdonald: Conversations will replace broadcast messages.
@SocialMediaSass: For 2015, brands that used to believe Facebook was just for socializing with friends and family will change their mentality. They will see social media as the new media. Video is where it's at, and more so, in 2015.
@PeterShankman: With any luck, 2015 will be the year brands stop focusing on social as the way to fix problems, but rather, improve service so that social is used by customers as an outlet to talk about how happy they are.
@KokaSexton: My production for 2015 is that we are going to see wide spread adoption of employee activation applications. These tools will enable employees from across a company to have access and easily share relevant news about the company and industry. These applications will benefit the corporations implementing them and will empower their employees, turning some of them into the next generation of thought leaders in their fields.
@KimGarst: In 2015, the terms "digital marketing" and "social selling" will converge into a more cohesive set of core strategies for business owners. Successful marketers are going to have to embrace a system to give their prospects information and content that educates and gives value around their products and services. Today's consumer is savvy and time is extremely valuable to them. Those that can effectively give value in a way that is quick and easy to connect with and buy from are going to win.
@TedRubin: You know how it is when you meet someone at a conference or in a networking situation and they're constantly looking around the room to see who else is there, or they're looking at their watch, or anywhere except at you? Those signals mean they aren't really "present" in the conversation, so there is no true connection. 2015 needs to be the year of "Looking People in the Eye Digitally". The last few decades of marketing tactics have made us lazy communicators. Most often we don't even pay attention to who we are talking to other than via the data we collect (and even that's a maybe). In order to fix this and really start to benefit from social relationships (both as individuals and as companies), we need to start "looking people in the eye digitally." We don't need to fit our world to social, we need to fit social to our world. Let's get started! #RonR
@JayBaer: Facebook will surpass YouTube as the most important video platform and Instagram will surpass Twitter as the second most-important social media platform.
@Ekaterina: Holistic experience management will trump fire-and-forget engagement approach. To earn the trust and loyalty of the educated, socially-savvy, global, connected consumer it isn't enough to distract them with short-term dazzle campaigns any more. To spark customer advocacy long-term, companies need to show that they care, by repeatedly enabling and managing meaningful experiences at every touch point. Unfortunately, this won't happen overnight. It'll take some companies years to accomplish this level of customer-centricity, but we are already seeing a shift in that direction by some of the most digitally-savvy brands.
@NickCicero: In 2015 we will see a sharp rise in the number of brands seeking out influential content creators who will co-produce amazingly valuable content sponsored by a brand to share with their built in audiences.
@MarjiJSherman: Personalized responses will be expected more than ever. Companies will need to invest in more targeted software in order to create unique conversations with their consumers. Knowing everything about a consumer will be required in order to create tailored conversations that hit on exactly what the consumer is talking about in their life, so the brand seamlessly enters the conversation. Also, one-on-one communication with consumers will become mandatory for brands.
@katadhin: In 2015, marketers will move from "platform centered" to "content centered" social media. Content that flows across social and digital platforms and is relevant to the platform being used. As social referral surpasses search, this approach will create higher levels of engagement and conversion for those who do it well.
@fondalo: 2015 will see the rise of some very disruptive technology in the social, content marketing and search spaces. These digital marketing components have become more disjointed and the playing field gap between the massive content sites and the small brand or blogger is widening. Technologies that can disrupt the status quo of these marketing components and deliver unique and disruptive capabilities are going to become apparent in 2015, uncovering new and completely unique ways to drive traffic to content, improve social ROI and diminish the SEO and PPC models we have seen over the past decade.
@RyanPaugh: As our digital spaces become more cluttered by self-promotion, unsolicited advertising, and spam, consumers will seek out invitation-only communities that promise quality connections and meaningful relationships.
@TheWordPainter: If 2013 was all about social impressions and 2014 was all about social engagement, 2015 is the year of Social ROI.
@iSocialFanz: In 2015 Community will be the focus for businesses and leaders on social both for internal customers (employees) & external ones. Social Business thinking will shift from tools and procedures to more of a philosophy focused on creating new experiences!
@JasonFalls: All indications are that 2015 is going to be the year that social media becomes more paid media than earned, which is sad in a way. Certainly, brands with great content can break through the clutter organically, but Facebook has carved out a new model and other networks will follow. If you want your social content seen, you're going to have to put a budget behind it. I'd love to predict brands will flip the scene and get great organic pick-up despite the new rules of the road, but most brand content sucks. That, in all likelihood, won't change.
@teedubya: Social Media is evolving and factions of social media are localizing. Many teens and pre-teens aren't getting on Facebook, as they are on Snapchat, Minecraft, Xbox Network, and more specialized non-traditional social platforms. They are socializing online, just not in the same ways as older demographics. I'd expect this trend to continue. Another thing that I've noticed is more human resources departments are utilizing social media to help them find ideal job candidates. One of my clients asked me to use social media to find them 3 hard-to-fill roles and I used Facebook ad micro-targeting and drove candidates to their current boring landing page to apply. We got 17 applicants resumes and made 3 hires. Their combined salaries were over $400,000, and the total ad spend cost me only $209.
@JeffBullas: Brands such as Coca Cola realized that engaging with your fans and advocates to produce content for you for free was effective and smart. Research from Octoly revealed that "User Generated Content" (or UGC) from their fans and advocates can be the major source of content and social media marketing for brands.
@EllyDeutch: "Marketers in 2015 will shift their focus to include a more ubiquitous mobile content strategy, in order to instantly reach more fans through the palms of their hands."
@GlenGilmore: Businesses will continue to invest more heavily not only in social media marketing, but also in social media training for employees. As enterprises deepen their understanding of social business, more employees will be tasked with plying social media skills for marketing, customer service, social selling and recruitment. This will take social media management out of the hands of the few and disperse it throughout organizations. This will create training and compliance curves that will put a premium on social media crisis management skills. Big data and the "Internet of Things" will take center stage and require social media marketers to sharpen their understanding of both.
@ScottGerber: In 2015, social media tools and platforms will continue to roll out and build upon features and products that foster meaningful, real-time community--especially via mobile. Facebook Groups is only the beginning.
@RagyThomas: 2015 will be the year social media gets more integrated with offline interactions for brands
@JulioVisco: 2015 will be about activating your brand advocates and letting them tell your story.
@WarrenWhitlock: The revolution picks up steam in 2015 as brands learn that social media is not a thing you do, it's the future of business. Not really the future, trading among individuals has existed as long as there have been humans. Now that we have the means to collaborate without intermediaries, brands must empower and enhance experiences or become irrelevant to customers who can deal directly with each other.
@MarkSchaefer: The drop in organic reach has been apocalyptic for many businesses. Why? There is too much content on Facebook and the company is forced to ratchet down the reach. We will have to either spend a lot more money on Hollywood-quality content, a lot more money on advertising, or both, forcing some businesses to re-consider Facebook as a viable channel and enabling a migration to less noisy venues.
@FishDogs: Content will start showing up on social platforms just from a searched hashtag. I think we'll see social networks not requiring us to upload to their specific platform but rather opting in once to aggregate all content from specific tags. It is already possible to accomplish this with tools like IFTTT to automatically push your content everywhere when using hashtags or keywords. Social networks' pulling the content is the next logical step.
@MelissaArlio: 2015 is the year of Instagram especially for small biz! Highly visual + free & organic reach in light of FB's newsfeed changes
@JessaBahr: Prediction for 2015: More articles about Google+ being dead and it continuing to not die.
@RaquelMRamirez: More local small biz start using #Instagram as their online sales platform as oppose to selling from a website.
@CSPenn: Most social media marketers will still not get strategy right. Part of this is because so many people have entered marketing from non-traditional avenues (via social and digital) without formal training, and part of this is because strategy itself is so incredibly difficult to nail down. It's made doubly worse by shiny object syndrome, as people flock to ever greater distractions in their marketing worlds, from simple things like Ello this past year to Big Idea things like Big Data. Without sensible social marketing strategy, the shiny objects will just make things worse, not better. For those social media marketers who have gotten strategy right, 2015 will be a more successful year than ever because they'll be able to pick and choose what things are worth paying attention to and what things are just diversions.
@SeanMalarkey: Video advertising will expand massively. Google+ will cease to exist. Selling and conversion marketing via social will skyrocket in 2015.
@CarlosGil83: In 2015, digitally savvy consumers will instinctively search Twitter and Facebook before going to Google.
Have a tip to add? Tweet your Social Media Predictions for 2015 to @CarlosGil83 using the hash-tag #SMRealTalk or leave a comment below!