Social media has grown up in 2014, with the largest social networks reaching hundreds of millions of people daily. This makes for a very convenient, instantaneous way for advertisers to share content and marketing companies to get an idea of the kind of demographics that use their product.
2015 looks like it's going to see a change in some attitude overall towards social media and might even see an overall shift in paradigm from some marketing outlets. It's easy to tell that social media is the darling of marketing departments the world over because of how easy it makes interacting with consumers. The numbers on social media also make it a convenient way of getting a message out to the masses, and it's a lot more personal than mass media broadcasting.
As we move into 2015, there are a few things we are likely to see from social media, both in terms of the content they provide and how marketers use it to promote their products.
Top 9 2015 Social Media Changes To Expect
Let's take a look at a few predictions for 2015 for social media and imagine how the world can change.
1. More Love for YouTube. If there's one thing that social media has taught us it's that viral video marketing is one of the most effective ways to reach out to an audience. With a larger volume of people focusing on video as a medium, and with the influx of new users expected from Youtube in the coming year, it is likely that we're going to see a large upsurge in the content and usage of Youtube. Youtube presents an interesting medium for long-form content that allows marketers to not only get their message across but also allows them to use the embedding and share features to interact with other forms of social media. This seamless interaction is at the heart of the growth that Youtube is likely to see in the coming year. Google account integration adds an added layer of social media interactivity, allowing for linking and sharing through email and Google+. With the changes that Youtube has had regarding development of custom features, it's very likely that we will see Youtube get a lot more love in the coming twelve months.
2. Interconnectivity Will Grow Exponentially. The volume of connected devices is currently growing at an ever-increasing rate, with estimates putting the total number of connected devices on the planet at over twenty five billion by 2020. Interconnectivity is a key factor in user experience, since social media has now been able to create seamless links between accounts that are hosted separately on tablets, phones and PC's. As the year 2015 progresses, we should see a change in the paradigm of user interface with connected devices. Already, a handful of companies (most notably Sam sung and Apple) have brought out their wearable prototypes that allow for a projected screen surface that can be used off the skin, like a watch. Such futuristic devices might not take off completely in 2015, but there is a very likely possibility that their presence will boost the research and development into current phone technology. In 2015, we are likely to see the amount of connected devices increase and the usability of such devices become much easier.
3. Movement Away from Traditional Social Media Business Policies. When Facebook was incorporated and users began using it, the behind-the-scenes working of the media giant was unknown. Eventually it came out that for offering a free service, Facebook allowed companies that invested certain sums information that would allow them more effective targeted advertising to the people who are most likely to want or need their product. Many have claimed that Facebook's business practice of marketing users' information is unethical, but there hasn't been much choice for social media alternatives like Facebook. Until now, that is. A revolutionary new idea in social media termed Ello places itself as the "anti-Facebook" promising a similar user experience with interaction on the same level but without advertising. Ello also promised to never sell your information to third parties. In 2015, as more and more users become concerned with the commercial aspect of Facebook becoming harder and harder to ignore, it is likely sites such as Ello will see an influx of users that want to enjoy social media but aren't willing to give up their privacy to do so. This might lead to a change in Facebook's business practices or a movement away from its traditional model in order to preserve its customers in the face of interlopers.
4. Twitter's Business Advertising Model will Rise in Popularity. Advertising can be a hit-and-miss job at the best of times. However, as business advertising has become more focused in the last couple years, there have been a few outstanding entries into the arena. One of the most promising (and usually overlooked) entries has been Twitter. Offering advertising options that allow a business to streamline their advertising capabilities, the ability to deliver crisp, viable ads to users has never been so easy. With the fee restructuring that was done recently, Twitter's business advertising model is likely to be a massive favorite of businesses in 2015, with many established businesses realizing exactly how good their current pricing plan is compared to what they get for it. The new beta features will only serve to make it easier to pore over the data for clicks, retweets and other engagement factors while at the same time offering more flexibility in terms of calculation of clicks and conversions. Twitter is finally beginning to look like a twenty-first century media creature.
5. The Fall of Google+. It's not often that the mighty Google fails to deliver, but in this case it was a case of too much too late. After the success of Facebook, Google decided to capitalize on the use of social media by implementing their own social media networking solution. Google+ was linked seamlessly to all other Google services, including mail, cloud storage and even Youtube. The problem was that people didn't use it. In order for social media to be usable, there must be enough users willing to utilize it. As Facebook already existed as a social media outlet offering the very same things that Google+ offered, it was unlikely that users would leave Facebook to make the transition over to Google+. Some did, obviously, but not as much as the search giant expected. Eventually, the initial influx of users started drying up until Google, desperate to reinvigorate the flagging social media platform made it mandatory to have a Google+ account to use their services. Alas, it was in vain. Had Google+ entered the fray at the same time as Facebook it may have stood a chance. As it is now, with the decreasing number of users that actually utilize Google+ in practical terms, it may be in the company's best interests to give it up as a lost cause and focus their efforts elsewhere. You simply can't win them all, even if you are Google.
6. LinkedIn will Leave Competitors Behind. If you ask any millennial today about the best place to host their resume to be seen on the Internet, their response will invariably turn to LinkedIn. Created as a means of linking social media in the job search, LinkedIn has exploded as "the" social media system for landing new jobs. More and more freelancers have turned to LinkedIn as a means of getting new clientele and showcasing their current and past work. However, LinkedIn is not alone in this as other sites have started to cash in on the opportunity of using social media alongside job-seekers to create a social media network dedicated to bringing employers and employees together. LinkedIn has two things that other competing sites lack: longevity and credibility. Their algorithms are unique in allowing certain employers to see only what they want to see for potential hires, as well as giving job seekers the opportunity to contact employers in the hope that they might be considered for an open position. Because of these things, in 2015 LinkedIn is likely to leave the competitors they have in the dust as they grow even further, with shocking speed, to become the most reliable and well-populated social media system for getting job-seekers and potential employers together.
7. Less Means More. The nature of social media today has a lot to do with the short attention spans of the people we are most likely dealing with. Keeping it short and sweet goes a much longer way towards creating content that users are able to identify with. Creating a connection in this day and age depends less upon the accuracy of the content than it does about the way it is presented. As a result, images and image-based marketing is likely to see an upsurge in the coming year. Sites such as Instagram will become invaluable tools to social media marketing as more and more users lean towards images as opposed to walls of text or even more than a few paragraphs. It's said that a picture is worth a thousand words and in this case that might actually be true. The increase in the use of image-based marketing strategies allows for a whole different level of utilization for social media sharing outlets. Indeed, seeing social media embrace image marketing and keeping things simple will be a breath of fresh air, one that is dearly needed in the online marketing community.
8. More Faces, Less Companies. Many large companies and quite a few smaller ones have social media outlets and accounts that distribute official information about their products, services and promotions. However, what researchers have found out is that people are more likely to associate with other people as opposed to a nameless, faceless entity that is an official account. In 2015, we are likely to see more CEO's place their faces on their brands or at least move towards establishing a more personal flair for their official pages, most likely by changing their official page account names to a more personal nature. The humanizing of business in social media is long overdue, but in 2015 we are probably going to see more and more social media accounts be dedicated to changing brands from impersonal to a more human nature. The result will be an increased amount of trust in companies that adopt this strategy.
9. Specialization of Social Media. In the early days of print media, newspapers were considered the same as magazines which were considered the same as flyers or invitations: i.e. all printed media. Eventually a segmentation of the different interest groups began and further fragmentation allowed the print media to focus on a specific type of user in order to present advertising that would sit best with their demographic of reader. The result was a plethora of magazines and newspapers that each focuses on a different type of news or a different interest group. Social media is seeing this in the way users of similar interests tend to form groups that have the same sort of interests. Although interests may overlap, it is much more likely that users of a certain interest group will be liable to buy a certain type of product. In 2015 we are likely to see social media start adopting this type of segmentation in order to focus their advertising better. Key among the sites that will adopt this type of decentralization will be Twitter and Facebook: the social media giants. Eventually the others will follow, or else their advertising will simply stagnate and their growth will fall short of expectation.
Get Ready for 2015 Changes
2015 will see a change in a lot of things, ranging from the types of users present on social media networks to the types of networks themselves. Social media marketing will have to rethink strategies regarding their targeted ads, and will move towards the more viable methods that are cost effective. Established social media outlets will continue to dominate their fields, but there is still room for niche outlets to fill a void that the larger social media giants ignore.
Eventually, as 2015 progresses we will see how social media will have changed and how well these predictions fit the market growth and potential that are likely to be a hallmark of the next twelve months.