Step into our digital tent and cross our palms with silver. If you’re interested in where social media is going in 2014, we have a few key predictions right here in our crystal ball…
1. Customer driven marketing
It’s common knowledge that the best way to sell anything to anybody is to make it all about them. Well, customer driven marketing is the next logical progression along this line of thought. Customer driven marketing gets your customers creating their own promotional content for your brand, allowing your products to start selling themselves. It’s a low-cost, high-impact option which turns your ‘brand super fans’ (also known as fandoms) into your perfect spokespeople all over social media – and beyond.
So how does it work? That’s really up to you. The most important thing is that you get your most passionate and social media savvy customers tweeting, instagramming, pinning, blogging and posting all about your brand. Incentives are essential. Over at Brewdog, customers were invited to invest in the alternative craft brewery as part of a scheme called Equity for Punks. Smart move. What better way to get the word out to craft beer enthusiasts about your range of beers than to make sure 6000 people who love alternative brews are waxing lyrical about how great your products are?
Give the people who matter a good reason to talk all about you, your brand and your products (positively, of course) and you’ll capture all sorts of social media attention.
2. Disposable content & video marketing
If you’re tired of hearing that old advertising chestnut: “show, don’t tell”, you’re not going to like this prediction. However, if you’re a Vine-visionary and a picture perfect business, the rise of disposable content and video marketing is going to be right up your proverbial street.
To get visual content out there via social media, Instagram is going to be essential in 2014. It’s now the world’s biggest photo-sharing website, thanks to a boost from the comparatively new Instagram Video which gives users the kit to create and customise 15 second videos.
Snapchat is also set to be an interesting tool for transmitting sharable content in 2014. It’s a big platform amongst a younger audience and MTV have already jumped on the bandwagon by sending fans of Geordie Shore images and video teasers of the upcoming new series. The only downside? Images and videos disappear after a few seconds – perfect for teasers, less good for creating a lasting impression.
The usual outlets are still important too, so don’t forget about Youtube. The most crucial thing is to create and share content which grabs attention and sets off a surge of sharing. If you haven’t seen Kmart’s Jingle Bells, you’re one in over 16 million.
Kmart captured a huge social presence by creating something seasonal, cheeky and shareable. They haven’t created their naughty Christmas number to sell their products directly, instead they’ve made something special for viewers to enjoy. If you want to get your name out there via social media, forget all about the hard sell and develop sharable content your followers will genuinely love and want their friends to see too.
3. Google Now VS. Siri
If you’re an Android user, chances are you’ve experienced Siri envy. Apple’s in-phone personal assistant is a popular feature, but Google has never had an app that can compete with her – until ‘Now’.
Google Now will tell you everything you need to know about where you are, where you might want to go next, not to mention where you’ve told it you’re supposed to be going. The information it gives you about all this will all be personally tailored to you based on your previous search habits. If this sounds creepy, imagine just how powerful and useful it could be. If you’d like to get on the train before it leaves the station, make sure your business’s Google+ is up, running and ready to go as it will undoubtedly get integrated in lots of useful ways some time soon.
4. Customer service, socially
Are you a business with an active Twitter presence? If so, you’ll know that at the first sign of trouble, customers race to their Twitter accounts to complain about your product or service. When NatWest and RBS had a Cyber Monday meltdown, angry tweeters took to their feeds en masse to share their frustrations.
Twitter is a direct line to businesses, presenting a face for customers to vent their frustration at – a face which can’t rant back! It’s great to be better connected to your target market, but it can be a two-sided coin. If you’re serious about social media, you’ll probably have found that keeping up with all this online activity is a round the clock job. Leaving complaints for too long, ignoring them entirely or failing to address them satisfactorily can create very bad online publicity. This is not likely to get any easier in 2014, so it’s time to get to grips with online public relations, complaint handling in 140 characters and Twitter etiquette.
It’s not all bad, though. Twitter shone in 2013 as a brilliant tool for bringing people together and getting information out there during crisis situations. During October’s attack on a mall in Nairobi, the social media platform was indispensable in posting updates, sharing information about the safety of loved ones and keeping the security services informed.
5. Content’s shiny crown
If we had a penny for every time we heard the phrase “content is king” in 2013, we’d probably be kings ourselves by now. Well, in 2014, this concept is set to get a little more sophisticated – and social media distribution and engagement is an important corner of this.
But wait! We’re not going to give the whole game away. Tomorrow’s 2014 countdown is all about where your content needs to go in the New Year. Enigmatic, aren’t we? So keep your eyes peeled on Thursday morning for part 4 and all sorts of content cleverness to keep your online marketing en pointe.