We are delighted to welcome some of the UK's top online experts to the Brainstorm Digital blog, to share their insight into the rapidly changing landscape of social media. Today they tell us what trends you must prepare for in 2014 to keep up with the competition!
Click here to read what trends they believe dominated in 2013.
Danny Bermant: Social media will become a lead generation tool
Businesses will stop looking down on social media as a marketing tool and start treating it as a lead-generation tool. Directors, particularly those in a sales role, have tended to treat social media as a time-wasting exercise where you engage in endless chatter with customers but don't actually generate any business. That is all changing for two reasons:
- LinkedIn now has a proven track record as a lead-generation tool. In one survey, it was shown to convert nearly 3% of visitors into leads. Sales staff who previously made cold calls can either connect directly to prospects or be referred through contacts in their social networks
- Social media analytics have vastly improved. It's now far easier to track the conversion of social interactions into sales and thus prove the success of your social media campaign. The days of using analytics simply to see how many visitors came to your site and the top pages they visited are also long gone. It's now possible to track how individual prospects are using your website, allowing you to tailor the ads and content they see specially for them, and move them more quickly towards a sale
In 2014, as businesses become more aware of these more sophisticated uses of social media, expect their use to increase and social media to be taken more seriously as a real generator of sales.
Danny Bermant is director of Brainstorm Digital
David Taylor: Youngsters will find more new networks
The further rise in social messaging sites like WhatsApp, BBM, Keek and Line. At the same time, the under 25s are continuing to spend less and less time on Facebook. Unsurprisingly the two are related. Youngsters are tired of being ‘spammed’ by brands using ads and love the immediacy of these completely mobile platforms. Brands need to find ways to engage socially with these audiences.
Michelle Carvill: High quality content will be even more essential
The trend for consumers expecting to engage with brands and businesses on social, on-the-go via smartphones, will continue to grow. This expectation will therefore drive more businesses to engage on the platforms – and therefore, to differentiate and stand out from the crowd, I believe content will become a key differentiator.
Mobile will continue to grow and potentially dominate our 'seeking' habits. In a world where we are already saturated with messages and information, readily available via our smartphones, content and content delivery will become important for all businesses.
Customer centricity can't be something written on a mission statement, but instead will have to manifest itself by truly understanding the needs of your audience – creating and targeting compelling content to encourage them to spend their 'precious time' giving your content attention – building share of mind, ultimately building relationships.
Cemanthe Mckenzie: Kids will go elsewhere – and some people will turn off alltogether
There is definitely a distinct trend developing in terms of the splitting of age groups and how they use social. The 'adults' seem to be following the 'kids' around, and the recent downward spiral of young numbers on Facebook shows this to be already having an impact. Younger people are the early adopters of new networks or platforms, but as soon as their parents join, they leave to find a new platform.
There is a trend towards instant mobile messaging and wearable technology, as well as the 'shutdown of technology' (where diners get offered a discount in a restaurant if they turn off their phones) and a move back towards connecting face-to-face and in real time.
Dave Chaffey: Adjusting content for mobile
The second most significant trend our readers selected in a survey about what to watch out for in 2014 is mobile marketing . So I select specific mobile-focused social media and content marketing. Mobile use will continue to grow, particularly – as far as social media use is concerned – on apps.
Some challenges and opportunities that we can speculate will become significant in mobile use of social media are :
- Repurposing content in formats which are more shareable and relevant on mobile
- Campaigns which are more context sensitive – based on location and time
- Increased use of mobile couponing and encouraging sharing through gamification on mobile sites and apps
- Targeting of ads specifically for mobile users and whether to reduce/increase budgets to reach certain budgets and contexts
- Tracking the impact of mobile social media both on online and offline purchase through attribution and other forms of research
Take a look at the O2 “Be More Dog” campaign for shape of campaigns to come in 2014 . They are designed to boost participation and sharing on mobile platforms – it’s virtual frisbees in this case.
Josh Whiten: Greater integration between social and paid
I feel that 2014 will see greater integration between social and paid; Twitter recently released paid tweets to small business users and Facebook Ads have been available for a while now. Both are likely to grow as PPC campaigns move away from Google Adwords to take advantage of the more sophisticated user targeting options offered by Facebook ads – demographics, location, employer, life stage, education and many more.
Mobile marketing will also be a key area; the majority of social media usage already takes place on mobiles and so brands will need to improve their online content for mobile users if they are going to be sharing their material through social media.
Click here for the experts' views on what trends dominated in 2013
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