The 16th Century French philosopher Michel de Nostradamus wrote a series of prophecies that may or may not have predicted WWII, Hurricane Katrina, The Great Fire of London and the invention of sliced bread. He spent many years studying the stars and various arcane sciences in order to discern the future.
While we're not holed up in a dusty library or hunched over a telescope, we're definitely channelling Nostradamus this week. With more and more companies realising that social media marketing is a necessity, agencies will need to stay on top of their game this year in order to understand how to get the best results for their clients. If your agency is conducting social media campaigns for clients, are you up-to-date with all the changes in the way people share and save information?
Here are our 5 predictions for social media trends we'll see in 2014:
Trend 1: Mobile Goes Mainstream
Mobile is the talk of the social media industry, and for good reason – 2014 is the year mobile truly becomes the dominant platform on the market.
Do you understand the way online searching and shopping is changing? Mobile browsing now dominates, and mobile users are engaging with specifically targeted content (Apps, SMS and mobile-email).
Mobile users can no longer be an afterthought in your client's social media strategy – they need to be considered as the core audience for any web presence. Mobile offers brands a unique opportunity to present heavily personalized information – such as the location of a nearby store or place of interest. Customers who receive highly personalised services are more likely to become fans and followers of a brand.
Trend 2: Say Bye Bye to the Listicle
Every single social media and content book, blog and guru touts the importance of writing articles in list format. It's so ingrained in our online culture that many of us don't even notice the fact that practically everything we read or write is in a list format … including this article.
And the list formula is nothing if not effective. After all, the Ten Commandments are a list, so is the Fortune 500, and the Constitution. Lists are a way for humans to organise and understand the world and themselves. Lists are easy to scan for information, simple to produce and can go viral very quickly.
But just because listicles have dominated the content space since the beginning of the internet, doesn't mean it will always be so. The truth is: the list is on the decline. Viral content on the internet is changing, and the list article is no longer as prominent. Many browsers are tired of the listicle - Check out this hilarious article in The Guardian on Listicles if you have any doubts.
Innovative content producers are starting to eliminate the listicle from their repoitoire. Look at the site Upworthy, who have been making waves in the social media ocean since their launch in 2013. Upworthy don't use lists, and they've started a trend that many experts are predicting will bring about the downfall of the listicle in 2014 as users gravitate to more visual or in-depth content.
Do list articles make up a significant portion of your client content strategy? Have you noticed a decrease in engagement on these articles? Maybe it's time to look at new types of content.
Trend 3: Attention is a scarce commodity
Every day, our eyes are exposed to more than 34 billion bits of information (University of California, San Diego study) – the equivalent to reading two whole books every single day. That's a lot of information.
No wonder people are starting to tune out.
In 2014, agencies and brands will have to work even harder to get their message heard. There's no magic formula for this, although experts are saying that images and video are becoming increasingly pivotal. Video will become the preferred medium for many, with micro-video platforms like Vine and Instagram creating a trend for bite-sized pieces of real-time footage.
The agencies producing high quality, unique content and conducting sensitive, user-focused social media campaigns will rise to the top. Are you creating attention-worthy campaigns?
Trend 4: Thinking Beyond Facebook
A recent Forbes article outlined social media predictions for 2013 – including the rise of other social media platforms besides Facebook. Although Facebook is still the most popular social media site – with 1.15 billion users – Google+ is hot on its tail with 343 million monthly visitors.
The benefits of being involved with Google+ are obvious – as Google owns the largest search engine in the world, it makes sense that their social media network has a heavy weighting in search results. With Google Authorship tied to Google+ profiles, this will be a platform that continues to rise in popularity in 2014.
Image- and video-centric social media platform will continue to increase in popularity, and established platforms will look for new ways to improve advertising packages to brands. Pinterest, Vine, Instagram, Ustream, Youtube and Vimeo will continue to grow in popularity, as more users want their online content in a visual format.
Is your agency focusing on visual as a content strategy? Is it time you hired a visual curator or video expert to join your team? How will you integrate visual collateral into your client campaigns in 2014?
Trend 5: Empowering your Sales Army
And by sales army, we mean the customers. As a person uses a product or service, he/she will often share their experiences with peers via social media. If this customer is particularly popular or influential within a certain group, you'll see your popularity soaring – that's influencer marketing.
In his article Influence Marketing is Becoming Mainstream, Ron Sela explains how brands can tap into the power of influencers within your existing customer base to generate content, share it with their peers, and become partners in the marketing process.
Agencies haven't been paying as much attention to influencer marketing, as they should. In 2014, this will change, and we'll see new roles appearing on the creative job market for influencer marketers and community managers.
More and more of agency social media budgets will be spent on schmoozing with influencers, from planning events, sending out free products and creating influencer-focused content. Are you identifying and engaging with your client's power users? Now is the time to start!
What do you think will be the emerging social media trends in 2014? Do you think our Nostradamus predictions are on the money? Share your thoughts in the comments below.