In 2013, the importance of social media in a successful business marketing plan became undeniable. According to Eloqua, "a reported 78 [percent] of companies now have a dedicated social media team." As we step into 2014, we continue to see the emergence of new social platforms and the impact that a strong social media presence can have on our business. In all likelihood, we can expect Eloqua's reported percentage to grow ever upward.
How Social Media Evolved in 2013 and What to Expect in 2014
Throughout 2013, we watched as social media platforms evolved into cutting edge marketing tools. Twitter is now considered a strong marketing tool by over 90 percent of marketers, who now use it regularly to generate new and return business. The Twitter network boasts a stunning 232 million active users, who manage to send a jaw dropping 500 million tweets per day! Twitter also launched Vine, their version of a video tool, during 2013.
In the past year, Facebook expanded their advertising platform and continued video ad testing. Meanwhile, Instagram celebrated a big year thanks to their introduction of a video and paid advertising program to their social platform. Also, a steady increase in picture and video sending popularity surfaced in the past year, indicating an interesting new inclusion of these marketing trends in future marketing strategies.
The Top 3 Social Media Trends for 2014
A review of social media marketing in 2013 has produced several "must have" trends for every 2014 marketing plan. As you round out your marketing budgets and put the finishing touches on your well planned strategies, here's what you need to know in order to reach your customers more effectively in the New Year:
- Thoroughly understand your audience and product or service. In 2009,the University of California published a report in which they concluded that the average person sees over 34 billion bits of information every day. 34 billion bits of information equates to reading approximately two books per day. As a result of processing so much information, people are beginning to tune out; their attention is becoming a rare commodity. What does this mean for you? It means you need to have an acute understanding of your audience and how your product or service relates to them. In a high "Pinterest-ized" social media world, you need a visual, shareable message that demands and holds limited attention within seconds.
- Mobilized material is a must. People are leaving desktop technology behind and flocking to their smart phone and tablet devices. The Pew Internet & American Life Project published a research paper in which they determined over 90 percent of Americans own a mobile device, and 57 percent of them surf the Internet with those devices. Smart phones are quickly outnumbering other types of technology, ushering in what many are dubbing "the mobile revolution." It is imperative that businesses take their digital properties beyond mere mobile optimization in 2014. Digital properties need to be responsive and adaptive, able to fluidly change and respond to the viewing capabilities of any mobile device. Audiences are also expecting the delivery of real time information based on relevance and location, which means digital properties must be search engine optimized for local search parameters. Audiences are expecting one-to-one personalization, and mobile technology is handing business owners the ability to give it.
- Out with analytic and in with predictive tools. Thus far, we have grown accustomed to simple analytic tools, the ones that give us basic information. Today, we are rapidly moving into the era of predictive tools. Predictive means that today's tools use diverse techniques from data mining, machine learning, modeling and statistics to drive the analysis of current and historical information, thereby making predictions. It's currently too early to tell exactly how this trend will evolve in 2014, but one thing is certain: simple tools no longer excite. The world and its audience are looking for ways to use all of the diverse data at their fingertips, meaning predictive technologies will find new traction in 2014.
These three general trends for 2014 all focus on a simple concept: effectively understanding and reaching your audience wherever they will be found. We can expect 2014 to be the year of positive customer experience and exemplary customer service.
3 Social Media Trends to Incorporate in Your Marketing Strategy
2013 has seen the most changes and largest leaps forward in social media advertising. 2014 promises to be a year of even grander developments. As a result, there are three trends in social media advertising you need to jump on board with:
- Facebook Video Ads. Twitter has been the big talk of 2013, and for some of us the appeal of Facebook has waned. Now is the time to rekindle the Facebook flame. Video advertising is turning into a huge 2014 social media marketing trend, as it rightfully should. After all, television advertising is still a fundamental tool in the modern advertiser's toolbox. The world is shifting their television habit to the cyber world, which means video advertising is shifting alongside it. Facebook has been testing video advertising for a while now. They prominently feature videos in their feed organically. Their testing looks to increase in 2014, meaning video advertising is about to play a much larger role in Facebook ads after New Year's. Overall, Facebook has become an undiscovered, underused advertising gem to many businesses that have had tunnel vision on Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. You can find a few fantastic tips for boosting the popularity of your brand or business by reading our 3 Awesome Web Content Tips... blog.
- Twitter Ads. There's no denying that Twitter had a big year in 2013. The platform grew substantially, even filing for andsuccessfully completing their IPO (Internal Public Offering). Marketers the Internet over all agree: we can expect big things from Twitter. In 2013, Twitter awed us with a successful overhaul of their advertising interface and an increase in targeting functionality. They launched TV ad targeting, creating impressive Lead Generation Cards. Since their IPO in October 2013, Twitter has kept their momentum. 2014 promises to be a year where we see use of tailored audiences, accounts promoted in timelines and a real "broad match" for keyword targeting. Now that Twitter is bound by shareholders, we can expect development of this platform to continually exceed expectation because advertisement revenue equates to happy shareholders.
- The Possibility of Google+ Ads. When it comes to creating a successful online marketing campaign, those of us in the business know that Google is the All-powerful, Almighty Decision Maker. Google sets the SEO trends, maps out the dos and don'ts of online marketing, and swoops down with fury upon anyone deliberately cheating the system for rankings. It's been somewhat surprising that Google+, Google's personal social media platform, has been missing ads. 2014 may be the year this changes. Google has unveiled their new project: testing of +Post Ads. It's important to note that based on the information currently available, this is not an ad unit on Google+. Rather, it allows businesses and brands to use quality Google+ posts and advertise them across the Google Display Network. 2014 should prove to be an exciting year as this project is tested.
Top Marketing Solutions for 2014
2014 is no doubt the first year in which marketers will be challenged to take into consideration a mountain of different technological tools, devices and new digital solutions-all of which will no doubt rapidly evolve throughout the year as development teams' continue to trudge forward. If your goal is to effectively reach more customers, fans and even investors in 2014, here's what you need to know:
- Video marketing is in. Over 50 percent of all web traffic has become video-based. Audiences feel they can make a more positive purchasing or investing decision after viewing a video. You cannot afford to ignore this in 2014. Video advertising should be catchy, short and simple because you're fighting to demand attention from a world where attention is an increasingly rare commodity.
- Mobile marketing is a new cornerstone. According to a study released in early 2013, nearly 40 percent of time spent on the Internet is via some sort of mobile device, and this percentage is forecasted to increase. Mobile marketing is no longer a marginal feature; it's a necessity. Therefore, the digital platforms and marketing solutions you choose to invest in this year must be mobile friendly, responsive and adaptive. The good news is that most digital platforms and themes are now designed to scale appropriately with mobile devices. However, you should confirm this ability through your own testing, never assume anything is mobile until your confirm it.
- Offline material is just as important as online. 2014 is the marketing year of connectivity. In other words, your business needs offline print solution designed to connect the audience to your social channels and online tools. A fantastic feature for accomplishing this is a QR code. QR code generators look to be incorporating color printing and even images in 2014. Aside from this, it looks like it's finally time to ditch fax numbers for Twitter handles, and prominently present your social and website information throughout business presentations, white papers, etc.
- Revise and incorporate SEO (search engine optimization) practices. Even though the world of SEO has been growing and evolving in leaps and bounds over the past five years, many business owners still scratch their heads when discussing it. In 2014, SEO becomes more easily understandable to even the most reclusive of professionals. Google has made SEO all about quality and relevant content, audience appeal, social media activity, customer voice (reviews, testimonials, etc.) and a small smattering of keywords directly related to your business. If you haven't already, it's time to review the new best practices of SEO and bring your content in line with them.
- Use social media strategically. At this point in time, we can safely assume that people understand the need for an active social media presence. Unfortunately, many seem to falsely believe that starting a profile and drumming up discussion about themselves is all that's required. However, it's imperative to realize that social media marketing-the successful kind-cannot be self-centered. You need to integrate your social media presence with other marketing tools and engage your customers and fans. A truly incredible example of using social media to its fullest is demonstrated by Starbucks. Not only do they understand how to use the most popular social media options, but they also dedicated an entire page of their website to customer-based product and service ideas called, My Starbucks Ideas. The ideas are voted on and the company's blog gives updates on the adopted suggestions. Now that's using social media to engage the audience, market a product and promote a company!
- Create an online presence that engages and inspires. In 2014, marketing and public relations will shift from a focus of winning customers to goals of gaining investors and supporters to push their company's online presence to a new and exciting level. This shift involves creating an interconnected online presence that inspires fans while engaging potential customers and investors to buy. Developing a professional, clean website and a strong logo are a start, but as you've seen in this guide, building a social media presence will be a new cornerstone to marketing and public relations.
Stay Onboard in 2014
The world of social media is anything but static. 2014 promises to be a year filled with exciting new development, cutting-edge techniques for reaching precisely targeted audiences and more. We can expect advertising campaigns to grow increasingly more visual, and interconnectivity to become a new marketing standard.
As you can see, the social media ship for 2014 has set sail with new trends and marketing solutions. It's not too late to jump onboard, and it's obvious not doing so could capsize your business endeavors. So, will you be onboard with the rest of us as we sail into the exciting new technological era of audience focused social media marketing?