From the decline of Facebook use among teens to Twitter’s IPO, if there is one thing we know for sure about social media, it’s that few trends hold on for long — so marketers need to stay on their toes.
With that in mind, we asked nine successful entrepreneurs how they are planning on altering their social media marketing strategies in the next six months, based on their predictions for the new year. Here’s what they had to say.
1. Graphic software will rise.
Posts on Facebook with photos get 53% more likes, 104% more comments and 84% more click-throughs than text-based posts, according to Kissmetrics. With the rise of Pinterest and Tumblr, it’s going to become increasingly important to produce content in visual form, whether it is infographics, images with text overlay or pretty quote graphics. We’ll be using more graphic software to turn our written content into visual content to make it more shareable on social media.
2. Social won’t be use for sales.
People love to buy, but they hate to be sold. Companies currently celebrating the most success in social media focus on engagement, nurturing relationships and sharing value through their social outreach. Customers and prospects will seek out companies offering value, entertainment, discounts, help and engagement.
3. Automation will explode.
A lot currently rides on the shoulders of social media marketers. They have to be on top of brand voice, any current company promotions or marketing campaigns, the tools they measure social media with, the various communities on the platforms, etc. It’s a lot, and it’s more varied than most people are capable of doing well. In 2014, we’ll see a lot of automation of the tactics (think timing, platform, structure, etc.), so social media marketers can focus on the content and the genuine social interaction. Autonomics is being adopted now and will only explode as more technologies come online in 2014.
Imagine a publication with more than 100 million captive readers and writers, such as Bill Gates and Richard Branson, all natively hooked into and targeted to a social network. LinkedIn will become a premium destination for industry news, and you need to take part in that ecosystem early and often. Publish original content, network among peers in groups and raise your profile now.
5. Content will be bigger and better.
Simple messages and simple questions aren’t enough anymore. To achieve a deeper connection with your customers, a company needs to engage on a deeper and more intelligent level. Short videos, infographics, quality imagery and polls are all ways to engage deeper. Companies need to look at the content they put out and ask themselves, “Is this shareable?” An example of a huge company that’s doing this really well right now is Wal-Mart. Its content is smart and engaging, and the fan engagement is very high by comparison to its competitors. Also, companies need to focus on the fans they have and not the fans they want. If your message is always trying to reach out, you’ll bore the fans that have chosen to connect with you.
6. Social will need to stand out.
Social media has really started to mature. Therefore, it will be a lot harder to stand out. To win big in social media, you’ll have to think outside the box and find ways to get your content to stand out in all the noise.
7. Social media campaigns will have to be paid.
I assume that the most effective social media campaigns in 2014 will be paid. The key is learning how to use Facebook and Twitter’s paid tools now so that you’ll have an edge on the competition. For instance, are you using Facebook’s advanced audience tool? It allows you to upload your email database and send specific response messages directly to your focused audience. Imagine being able to segment both email marketing and Facebook ads to your target audience. Facebook already offers these types of advanced tools, and they will become more mainstream in 2014. Similarly, Twitter is now public and has been making an aggressive push into paid advertising. If you are a brand and want to succeed on Twitter in 2014, get ready to pay for it.
Creating static content is too easy. In 2014, the bar will be raised on the type of content people choose to engage with. Expect to see content become more interactive (think software-like). The year 2013 was the year of “Top 10” lists. To get users to engage to the same degree in 2014 and subsequent years, publishers will need to make it increasingly engaging, and one effective way to do that is to make your content interactive.
9. Google+ will merge into the social scene.
As Google continues to merge its products, it’s becoming more and more important in the social media landscape. There are so many benefits to using Google+. It creates a strong community that allows you to use your brand and identify consumers who share an interest in your products. It also allows your brand to become more social with like-minded consumers. They provide like-minded consumers a platform to connect with one another. This builds a strong community, which is a great way to get feedback on new and old products from real-time consumers.
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