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 they believe defined 2013 for businesses trying to grow online.
Check back here on Monday, to find out what trends they believe you must prepare for in 2014!
Danny Bermant: The Rise of Google+
Google has tried for a number of years to become a serious contender among the main social networks with Google+, but had little success. In 2013, that all started to change because of something called "Google authorship". You can now link content that you publish on your website to your Google+ profile. When your website appears in Google search results, it appears with your profile photo and name (both of which link to your Google+ profile).
Having authorship not only adds a personal layer to your search engine profile, but has more credibility in Google's eyes and so affects your website's SEO ranking. Google has muscled its way into the social media market by stealth. If you want a top search engine ranking, you now have no choice but to use Google+
Danny Bermant is director of Brainstorm Digital
David Taylor: Advertising on social media has matured
All key social media channels now offer a variety of cost-effective solutions for even the smallest companies to reach their business objectives using paid-for marketing tools. Boosted Facebook posts, sponsored tweets, YouTube, AdWords and sponsored LinkedIn company updates are all now integral parts of the marketing mix.
Michelle Carvill: The need to be on social media is now a given
The most significant trend was wider acceptance – and by that I mean, more businesses actually understanding that regardless of size or sector, they can get involved with social channels.
Some years ago, when we started talking to clients about integrating social networks and creating content (media) as part of their marketing mix, there was significant resistance. We were often met with 'eyeball rolling' and questions such as 'what's the ROI', 'convince me why we should be on social'.
During 2013, we have found that businesses are shifting the sentiment of their questions away from pure disbelief and mistrust – from 'prove to me why I should be doing this stuff' – to understanding that they should probably be taking steps to better understand the platforms. Now they are asking, 'Show us how we can do this stuff properly'.
Are we at tipping point? Probably not from an SME adoption perspective, however, modern consumers increasingly expect businesses to have social networks as part of their 'touch points'. This trend is set to continue – and therefore, SMEs will need to consider the networks as a serious part of their marketing arsenal.
Cemanthe Mckenzie: The rise and fall of Facebook
The most significant trend was Facebook reaching 1 billion in users, but then losing many of the younger users to mobile messaging. I think it's becoming apparent that no platform holds a significant place in the market, and can be replaced – not easily, but can be replaced.
I also think that people are moving slowly away from social media as a method to market their business, especially in bigger brands. They've realised that perhaps social media is a plugin to what they have always done as marketing, instead of being the main holy grail of promoting a business. Small businesses still use and start with social media, but even there if you dont have a bigger budget or lots of time, then your social media will grow slowly, and not be a massive generator of clients/customers to start with.
Dave Chaffey: The move to content marketing, and targeted advertising
The most significant trend in digital marketing in 2013 was the rise of content marketing. Few would disagree with this – it has consistently topped surveys of where marketing budgets are being allocated.
When we asked Smart Insights readers in January, that’s what they said and when we recently asked about what they felt would be the investment 2014 which would give them the most best commercial improvements, content marketing was again top – attracting nearly a third of votes across 10 topics.
Given this, I could say that the most significant 2013 trend was integrating content marketing into social media marketing and vice versa. However, I don’t believe that practices here have changed that much.
So, instead I’m going to select the growing options for targeted advertising in social media.
All of the major social platforms have introduced or announced changes. The options from Facebook are most sophisticated and those which many of the other networks are following. Google+ has announced Shared Endorsements integrated within searching, which is one to watch in 2014.
Facebook’s relatively new targeting options like Custom audiences and remarketing have proved more popular in 2013. LinkedIn has announced a new Sponsored update format too to add to its Sponsored ad formats.
The recent Twitter IPO has also highlighted the increasing range of targeting options with its Promoted Tweets, Accounts and Posts: with promoted tweets offering highly granular targeting.
Meanwhile Pinterest has announced it is joining the advertising party. So we can predict that in 2014, there will be a lot more attention on working out which of these paid ad options are worthwhile and innovative ways of introducing them into campaigns.
Josh Whiten: The forced growth of Google+
Probably the forced growth of Google+ as a social channel following moves by Google to improve performance of websites if they feature content which is verified by a credible Google+ author. Author verification has developed into a key technique for improving SEO and also building a following on Google+.
Coming up on Monday……….what trends will dominate in 2014?
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