Social media trends to watch in 2014

Adam VincenziniContent marketing. Niche networks. Viral video. The revival of user generated content and blogs. In this guest post, Adam Vincenzini has 14 predictions for the social media trends that will shape the marketing world next year.

Content promotion budgets take a bigger chunk of media spend

Making your content visible will be critical in 2014. We’re (finally) recognising that quality content, published frequently, is the real star of social media and general online activity.

In many cases, great content doesn’t achieve the visibility required to provide maximum impact, which is why an increasing amount of media buying budgets will be allocated to content promotion in 2014.

Look out for services like Outbrain to figure heavily when the subject of content promotion comes up next year.

Niche interest networks will increase in prominence and usage

We’ve seen major social networks like Facebook take the biggest chunk of the two-way media market in recent years. However, our online preferences are rapidly changing and interest-based networks destinations are starting to gain more traction.

These micro-networks will never significantly bite into the market share of the Facebook’s of the world, but they are likely to get a little more attention in 2014.

Long-time content creators finally reap the rewards they deserve

One of the biggest changes Google has made in recent times has been the roll out of ‘author rank’ which verifies the profiles of content creators and can make their content more visible within search results

After years of being prisoners to an algorithm, content creators are now being rewarded for their history of quality content that has been published over a sustained period of time.

This trend will become more and more apparent in 2014.

The shortage of content-savvy digital talent will get worse before it gets better

In recent times, ‘digital’ has finally started to be seen as the means to an end, not the end. That ‘means’ is the delivery of content to the right people, in the right places at the right times.

To be successful in this new world, you need to have a unique set of skills, including digital production, content creation, social media knowledge and an understanding of SEO. People with experience in all these areas are in short supply and as demand for these people increases in 2014.

SoundCloud headlines the audio sharing renaissance

In the second half of 2013, we saw a huge increase in the use of specialist audio sharing platform, SoundCloud. SoundCloud has 250 million active users which places it 4th among the ‘big 9′ social sharing platforms, behind only Facebook, YouTube and Google+.

Expect SoundCloud to increase even more in popularity in 2014 as audio content becomes even easier to produce, consume and share.

Next year’s shiny new toy won’t fly off the shelf like we’ve become accustomed to

Every year a new social media platform arrives on the scene and we collectively flip out at the possibilities it may provide.

Vine was last year’s darling and it appears the hype was mostly justified. But, how many more social platforms can we cope with? How much more money and resource can we allocate to another new toy? 2014 is looking like the year we start to say ‘no’.

Content marketing (justifiably) gets the buzz phrase treatment

Content marketing isn’t anything new, but thanks to the rise of social media, it is much easier to do. But quality content (driven by smart content strategies) is the key to success. When delivered well, it can showcase the knowledge and expertise housed within an organisation better than any other traditional marketing activity.

It will be talked about to annoying levels in 2014, but the hype will (mostly) be justified.

The revival of genuine user-generated content contests

A perfect storm is on the horizon in relation to user-generated content contests. Brands and businesses are desperate for more co-created content to feature on their social media channels.

Individuals can participate in these contests with more ease than ever before thanks to tools like Instagram, Vine and Twitter. Due to the mutual benefits provided by content contests, expect to see a big jump in this activity in 2014.

But, being aware of the risks associated with these activities must also be assessed.

Digital team structures will head towards a bona fide hybrid model

Nearly every organisation is trying to work out how to better integrate digital into all facets of marketing. There is a widespread consensus that operating purely in silos impacts on efficiency and effectiveness.

In 2014, as the focus on original content increases, expect to see genuine hybrid models adopted with more frequency.

The viral video obsession won’t vanish

‘Going viral’ is not a sustainable strategy. Viral video marketing has been a blessing and a curse for digital marketers. On one hand, it has showed the power of online video, on the other, success has been historically determined by view counts instead of resulting viewer actions.

Don’t expect this obsession to change too much in 2014 as immediate results continue to take precedence over playing the long game.

SEO isn’t dead, it is just being redefined

Google made some very significant changes to its search product in 2013. These changes have rendered many traditional SEO tactics useless in exchange for genuine content strategies and production.

Expect Google to continue to dramatically refine the factors that influence search results next year and beyond.

People-powered results will be a phrase you’ll hear a lot in 2014.

The (big time) return of the blog

Linked to the previous trend, Google is looking to reward quality long format content. A by-product of this is that simply curating other people’s content will become a less fruitful tactic in 2014.

With a premium placed on original content, the best place to feature this is on a blog (or content hub connected to your primary website).

A blog is also an investment in a channel you truly own which provides a lot more long-term value than ‘renting’ social channels.

The (unavoidable) social media backlash

Social media will face increased scrutiny in 2014. The industry will (more vocally) ask whether or not is delivering against the hype. Members of the public will voice an ever-increasing apprehension about the role brands play in their social media lives.

In reality, social media will experience a recalibration as opposed to a bloody death, but a great deal of noise to that effect will be made next year.

The only constant will continue to be change…faster and faster change

Constant change is embedded in the DNA of social and digital media. But in 2014, the rate of change will be like nothing we’ve ever seen before, and it won’t be limited to the popular platforms.

Technology like Google Glass will have an impact on user behaviour and brands will attempt to respond to developments like this. The changes will just keep coming, and coming and coming…

Adam Vincenzini is managing partner at PR and content marketing agency Kamber. He is author of The Kamber Blog.


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