We're halfway through 2014 and it goes without saying that a lot has happened this year in social. News of small start-ups being bought out seemed like it occurred on a daily basis. Each major network launched layout changes, some subtle and some not so much. There are new mobile experiences, feed algorithms and the most significant theme, big advertising push. We've all been witness to these as they've happened. To go over every thing that has taken place would take more than just a blog post. So where is social leading us from here?
The big news coming off of Q4 from 2013 was the major Facebook newsfeed algorithm overhaul that lead to the decreased organic page reach and during the first months of this year, everyone had their take on what that change means, including yours truly. No need to re-hash that discussion, but the implications of that change still resonate with not only Facebook strategies, but social as whole and will continue to for the rest of 2014 and thereafter. Here are a couple things to consider as we enter the second half of 2014.
Think about mobile user experience first. No matter the network, it's clear that users are primarily accessing and engaging via mobile versus their desktop/laptop. A recent study by comScore showed that between 8 of the major social networks, only two (LinkedIn & Tumblr) have users spend at least 50% of their time on their sites using a desktop. Although a large portion of our society works behind a desktop computer, odds are that employers restrict access to it, forcing every day users to pull out their smartphones or tablets to connect.
No shocker here, brands need to start paying in order to get significant impact on their content and messaging. According to a recent report by BIA/Kelsey social advertising revenue in the U.S. alone reached nearly $5.1 billion in 2013 and is projected to top nearly $15 billion by 2018. Mobile only accounted for 30% of that in 2013, but is projected to surpass desktop revenue by 2018. As revenues rise, so will the spend and if you aren't spending, you're going to be left behind.
Video & Visual
Every social network update that takes place during the year is rooted in the desire to deliver a better visual experience for the user. Images with posts have historically always performed better than plain text messages, and since most brands have acknowledged/accepted that, the next medium to take off is video. Facebook's launch of auto-play video ads are a prime example. They're giving brands the ability to provide that added, unique experience - with a price tag of course
"With Premium Video Ads, brands now have another way of engaging people on Facebook with compelling video experiences." - Susan Buckner, former Product Marketing Manager at Facebook
All of Snapchat, Instagram and Vine's popularity is rooted within the visual experience. Those who laughed at Facebook's offer of $3 billion for Snapchat aren't laughing now, as Snapchat strategies have taken root in many brands such as Nissan, Wendy's, Taco Bell, and even major music festivals like the Electric Daisy Carnival
Connect It All
Between a mobile focus, increased advertising budget and shift to richer visual experiences, there's a lot for marketing teams to plan for. Connecting it all is the biggest hurdle that many will face, and that is no easy feat. There's still time left in this year to begin incorporating these strategic notes into your plan and you should. Before you know it, 2015 will be right around the corner and who knows that major shift or shifts could affect your long term strategy.