11 Social Media Marketing Predictions to Watch for 2014

social media viewpointsAre you wondering what changes and trends are coming to social media marketing in 2014?

In 2013, we saw some big changes.

Major platforms made serious strides toward monetization and there was a massive rise in visual marketing.

To find out what the new year may have in store for social marketers, we asked 11 social media pros what they think is coming our way.

Here’s what they had to say.

And if you’re curious, here were the 2013 predictions.

#1: The Resurgence of Advertorial

jay-baer

Jay Baer

Several trends and technologies will reach maturity in 2014 spawning considerable disruption in social media, but I believe native advertising and sponsorship will have the greatest impact. It’s a back-to-the-future scenario.

advertorial-future

The future of marketing looks much like its past. Image source: iStockphoto

In the 1950s, product placement and “this episode of Your Hit Parade is brought to you by Lucky Strike cigarettes” was the norm when companies wanted to reach prospective customers. We then steadily moved away from integrated advertising for decades.

But now, native adverting is back and 2014 will be the year that Advertorial 2.0 becomes a major part of the social media marketing mix for most companies.

The days of social media being “free” marketing for companies are over. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest are all in full monetization mode now, and companies looking to reach their fans/customers/prospects via these venues are going to need to pay to do so.

This has far-reaching implications for social media users, the concept of authenticity, what is and is not journalism, marketing budgets, the role of agencies and whether the future is more “social” or more “media.” Like it or not, I’m betting on the latter.

Jay Baer, founder of the award-winning blog Convince & Convert, co-author of The Now Revolution and author of Youtility: Why Smart Marketing Is About Help Not Hype.

#2: Employee Advocacy

neal-schaffer

Neal Schaffer

My prediction for 2014 is that employee advocacy will become a strategic initiative for more and more large companies.

Companies are always looking outside corporate walls for brand advocates in social media, but many of their most passionate advocates are also those who have deep ties to their company: their employees. Each individual employee has influence in his or her own unique social network, so the more employees who can help share the company’s social media messages, the broader the reach a company can achieve in social media.

To think of it in simple terms, if you had a sales and marketing team of 10 employees, your social media messages could be shared by either your corporate account or by your corporate account and potentially 10 more people.

employy-advocacy

Imagine the extended reach your employees’ advocacy will bring you.

Many companies are beginning to realize the exponential power of employee advocacy, especially on professional networking sites like LinkedIn, and I predict it will have a breakout year in 2014. Creating a successful employee advocacy program has its challenges, but the evolution of both social business as well as employee advocacy platforms should move this program forward in many companies in 2014.

Neal Schaffer, author of Maximizing LinkedIn for Sales and Social Media Marketing and Maximize Your Social: A One-Stop Guide to Building a Social Media Strategy for Marketing and Business Success.

#3: Facebook Forces a Strategic Refocus

john-haydon

John Haydon

With Facebook squelching updates from pages, small businesses and nonprofits (that lack deep pockets for Facebook ads) will have to scrap the old approach of spamming the news feed and refocus in three ways.

strategy-word-cloud

Marketers will have to refocus their strategies. Image source: iStockphoto

Facebook marketers will refocus their efforts in 2014 in these areas:

  1. Become more useful in the news feed. This starts with listening to the storytellers within your fan base, and publishing content that is 100% about making them look useful and interesting to their Facebook friends.
  2. Wisely integrate other marketing channels like email, other social media and events to encourage current customers to share branded content. After all, Facebook is essentially word-of-mouth marketing that begins with real fans telling their friends!
  3. Finally start that blog you’ve been talking about. In the end, Facebook is about driving traffic to your website so that they buy, join your email list or make a donation. Publishing useful content on a blog is one of the best ways to achieve this across all social media channels.

John Haydon, founder of Inbound Zombie and author of Facebook Marketing for Dummies.

#4: Social Networks Develop A/B Testing Tools for Brands’ Organic Updates

nick-robinson

Nick Robinson

In 2014, these tools won’t be just for the brands with big media budgets. Once A/B testing tools for social media are rolled out, we’ll see an increase in the quality of content distributed across networks. This will have an enormous impact on social media marketing, if brands take advantage.

For the brands that do successfully use A/B testing tools for social media, they’ll see an increase in impressions, engagement, website visits and ultimately, leads and sales.

Think about how we approach email and website testing. These are environments where we have direct control over the elements. Social sites are a bit different due to being “rental property.” It’s extremely difficult to infuse science into the type of content you share, since there is less control over who sees social updates. The only way you can do this type of testing with the rigor needed is to fork over money for advertising.

In my eyes, it’s a win-win-win for the social networks, users and brands alike!

Nick Robinson, social media channel manager for SAP Americas and co-author of StumbleUpon for Dummies.

#5: Pay to Play

dave-kerpen

Dave Kerpen

Facebook has changed its news feed algorithm to hurt organic reach. Twitter is a public company that must drive revenues. Google+ has introduced ads.

dollar-icon

Paid social will become a necessity for brands. Image source: iStockphoto

In 2014, we’ll see increased pressure on companies of all sizes to pay to sponsor their posts to get more visibility, as getting consumers’ attention in social media becomes increasingly difficult. This will be hardest on small businesses that obviously have fewer resources than big brands.

Dave Kerpen is CEO of Likeable Local, chairman of Likeable Media and author of Likeable Social Media and Likeable Business.

#6: Fusion Marketing and Fusion Dashboards

viveka-von-rosen

Viveka von Rosen

I believe fusion marketing is going to become a very common catchphrase for us in 2014, and fusion marketing dashboards will be developed and available for us in the very near future.

While fusion marketing is not a new concept, the ability to truly integrate years of traditional marketing with the exciting digital marketing tools of the Internet and social media is going to become even more necessary!

And, as the concept of fusion marketing becomes more common, the need for fusion marketing dashboards that allow us to launch, manage and benefit from many different media campaigns all in one place will grow.

fusion-marketing-dashboard

Fusion marketing tools will become necessary.

While HubSpot and Marketo are two of the best-known marketing hubs, they aren’t affordable for all marketers, entrepreneurs and small businesses out there.

A lower-priced and easy-to-use fusion marketing dashboard that allows us to access, create, launch and manage traditional, digital and social media campaigns all in one place for an affordable fee can fill that gap in the marketplace.

Fingers crossed—that’s what I would like to see in the new year!

Viveka von Rosen, founder of Linked Into Business and author of LinkedIn Marketing: An Hour a Day.

#7: Social Storytelling Will Shift

simon-mainwaring

Simon Mainwaring

As a brand leadership firm that helps large corporations define and share their brand stories through social marketing, we constantly witness the struggle companies face to reconcile their existing cultures and marketing strategies with the new demands of real-time, mobile customer engagement.

An early reaction was to simply adjust marketing while leaving the organization unchanged. Then, facing increased scrutiny and demands for transparency, large companies looked inward to ensure that what they said about themselves through their marketing was actually true of their organization.

As internal and external storytelling align, my prediction for 2014 is the rise of coherent social storytelling.

brand-story

Brands will BE their story instead of telling it. Image: iStockphoto

This has huge implications for how brands use social media to build their reputation and sales, and for how consumers use social media as brand ambassadors. It will allow brands to shift their focus to their “story,” rather than its “telling. To focus on building relationships, rather than driving transactions. And to unlock the true power of social media, which is to inspire customers to build the business with them, based on shared values and a common goal.

Simon Mainwaring, founder and chief creative officer at We First Inc. and author of We First: How Brands and Consumers Use Social Media to Build a Better World.

#8: The Age of Advocacy

ekaterina-walter

Ekaterina Walter

With the hundreds of thousands of products launching every year and the amount of digital noise increasing exponentially, brands need a solution that allows them to distinguish themselves from that noise.

I see it happening two ways: either they have to consistently produce a viral hit (the chance of which is slim to none) or create a powerful advocacy engine that sparks sustainable word-of-mouth.

In the age of infobesity, advocacy becomes the most relevant filter. And by advocacy, I mean the highest expression of brand love by a brand’s consumers, partners and employees. In the social era, the right form of advocacy becomes true influence.

Influence isn’t about impressions, it’s about impacting someone’s behavior. And the only way to impact the behavior of others is through passion, relevance and trust. Genuine organic love for a brand influences behavior much more than a paid promotion.

advocacy-stat

Brand advocacy will be more important than ever.

In 2014, brands will focus deeply on creating and nurturing long-term sustainable relationships with their true advocates through building smaller niche interest–driven communities.

We are entering the age of advocacy. Customers are no longer buying brands, they are investing in them. Marketers will move from marketing to their fans to marketing with and through them; from simply creating marketing campaigns to igniting brand movements.

Ekaterina Walter, cofounder and CMO of BRANDERATI and WSJ bestselling author of Think Like Zuck and The Power of Visual Storytelling.

#9: Paid Social Becomes a Requirement for Social Media Marketers

mike-stelzner

Michael Stelzner

As social networks become more accountable to public shareholders, they will begin implementing “traditional” business models requiring that marketers “pay to play.” The organic marketing benefits of social media will continue to decline.

Social networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn will slowly introduce special features only to paying customers and reduce the benefits of organic activity.

paid-social

Learn the paid side of social or be left behind.

This shift will require marketers to go beyond engagement marketing strategies and deeply understand the paid side of social. Those that ignore paid social media will fall behind their competitors.

Michael Stelzner, founder and CEO of Social Media Examiner, founder of My Kids’ Adventures and author of Launch and Writing White Papers.

#10: Brand-Owned Network List-Building Matures

paul-colligan

Paul Colligan

Mark Zuckerberg has a network of a billion people—perhaps you’ve heard of it. Google has a video platform that sees a billion uniques a month. Apple has received more than a billion podcast subscriptions. 200 million users send 400 million tweets each day. We’ve built their networks, and we did a good job.

And 2014 will be the year we build our own networks. The stakes are too high not to.

While playing nice with the unique cultures that make up the different social networks, I predict we’ll turn our attention to building our own lists. This won’t always be the traditional email list, but will include phone numbers, physical mailing lists and more.

Right now, Twitter lead generation cards, trigger texting and Facebook offers are leading the way, and you’ll see more of this in the coming year (both in tools and implementation). When social media marketers realize that they can reach their entire list without paying extra for the honor, the tide will quickly turn.

youtube-list-building

Building a list on YouTube? You bet!

Don’t worry, the change will be subtle, but the lists built will be significant (and profitable). Why shouldn’t we learn from the networks we helped build?

Paul Colligan, education czar for Traffic Geyser Inc. and CEO of Colligan.

#11: Interactive Video Becomes Viable

mark-schaefer

Mark Schaefer

I think this is the year we’ll see a real breakthrough in interactive video. When you think about it, our relationship with video has not changed significantly since 1950. Basically, we “observe.”

But the technology exists to “tag” based on audio content and even recognize faces and objects. Wouldn’t it be cool to search the web and get just the right snippet of video to answer a question or solve a problem (instead of the whole video)? Can you imagine adding a comment or even content to a video while you are watching it?

interactive-video

Searching video for tags or images may be right around the corner. Image source: iStockphoto

I think the time is ripe for real innovation in this space.

Mark Schaefer is a college educator, blogger, speaker and consultant who is the author of three best-selling books including Return On Influence.

What do you think? How do you see social media in 2014? What trends do you anticipate? Please share your thoughts and comments below.

Images from iStockPhoto.

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About the Author, Cindy King

Cindy King is the director of editorial for Social Media Examiner. She spent 25 years abroad in international business development and then built her own international business from scratch by using social business networking. Other posts by »




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  • http://www.convinceandconvert.com/ jaybaer

    Thanks for including me here. Glad Mike Stelzner and I are on the same side! Also, I’m an investor in an employee advocacy company (Addvocate.com) so delighted to see Neal and Ekaterina sounding that trumpet. Happy 2014 to all!

  • AmandahBlackwell

    Good predictions!

    Something is definitely amiss with Facebook. When I first took over a particular fan page, I increased the reach to over 30,000, but then it plummeted to about 10,000. I checked the reach a few days ago and it’s over 40,000. I’ve been scouring the internet to find articles about recent changes to the FB algorithm, but I didn’t find anything. Another explanation is that I’ve been sick since last Saturday and haven’t been posting as much. I’m not complaining about the increase in reach, but I’d like to know what happened.

  • Joel Harrison

    I really agree with Mark Shaefers prediction about interactive video. It seems like a natural progression and we finally have the technology and users who would take it and run. Imagine watching a video and being able to search through it based on keywords from the audio or visual content. Or watching videos that only start every 5 minutes to ensure that groups of people are watching at the same time and then can comment in real time with content that isn’t live. Maybe that’s not realistic, but Something cool is going to happen.

  • http://blog.flightmedia.co/ Josh Coffy

    This was a fantastic read! I agree with a majority of them, especially #9. Social network news feeds are flooded with so many free marketing tactics (a majority, the same) that paid advertising will be the only way to separate them.

  • http://blog.socialmediahq.com/ Nick Robinson

    Thanks for including me here as well! I totally agree with the inclusion of paid social, as Mike said in #9. Using paid, owned, and earned is where real results happen!

  • http://www.bernieborges.com BernieBorges

    Great list. My only prediction for 2014 is a combination of Jay’s and Mike’s predictions pertaining to the acceleration of sponsored content. The handwriting has been on the wall especially since LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter are public companies. The notion that social media marketing is “free” is fast becoming obsolete.

  • http://jeffkorhan.com Jeff Korhan

    I agree with Mike and Dave’s prediction about paying to play, which is also why I believe there will be a shift in resources towards Google+. In many ways it is the platform for fusion that Viveka speaks of, considering its integration with YouTube and other Google properties.

  • http://writespeaksell.com jeannettepaladino

    It’s been obvious for the past year that the major social networks are cutting back on their free benefits and pushing users toward paid advertising or premium memberships (LinkedIn). Organic traffic is not as important — it’s your subscribers and others who specifically seek out your website. There is simply too much competition now to depend on organic traffic, most of which bounces off within seconds anyway.

    This is going to sound really retro: marketers are going to start making more personal connections. Some of it will be through social media but I see a return to in-person networking, sampling and event marketing. It never went away but too many people put all their eggs in the social media basket. That is simply not going to work. Social media will be but one marketing channel among many.

  • http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/ Michael A. Stelzner

    Solid wisdom Jennette – Mike

  • http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/ Michael A. Stelzner

    I think you may be right :)

  • http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/ Michael A. Stelzner

    Yep Bernie, fully agree

  • http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/ Michael A. Stelzner

    Thanks Nick, fully agree

  • http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/ Michael A. Stelzner

    Sad but true Josh

  • http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/ Michael A. Stelzner

    Thanks Joel – Video is a great prediction. Still the most challenging type of content to make, but likely to grow for sure

  • http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/ Michael A. Stelzner

    Hey Amandah – We have a podcast coming out in a few weeks about the bid declines going on with Facebook. Stay tuned

  • http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/ Michael A. Stelzner

    Great minds think alike Jay. Thanks for being part of it

  • http://www.myrlandmarketing.com/ Nancy Myrland | Marketing & So

    The sophistication of social media will continue, as will the sophistication of marketers and other users. The mere passing of time, and the use that goes along with that time, will continue to enable all of us to more intelligently use these tools in ways that best match the goals we have for our businesses. Familiarity will certainly help marketers and others to get past the fear of use, which will help the social universe to begin to more fully understand how to truly integrate all marketing tools, including social media. Those who have a keen and informed knowledge of marketing as a whole will be more equipped to match the correct practices and tools with the correct goals, thus helping the company, firm or organization to build closer and longer-lasting relationships with those who have been identified as important to their cause.

  • http://blog.socialmediahq.com/ Nick Robinson

    Well said Nancy! Now that the fear is gone, I see brands fully embracing the power of employees’ personal brands for content amplification, and launching initiatives with a social first mindset.

  • http://www.searchlocalhq.com/ Toby Crabtree

    Looks an awesome prediction. Thanks for sharing!

  • http://www.feldmancreative.com/ Barry Feldman

    Mark’s observations are way cool. Time for video to mature. Bravo.

  • zoneofsilence

    Hi Amandah,
    FB has now demanded payments. So unless you pay them, your page/brand will not reach out / those who are interested in your page will not be able to reach out unless you make a payment. If you google ‘Facebook asking for brand payments’ you will get all the information. Cheerz

  • Kerry Howard

    What a word – ‘infobesity’. (#8). Sounds like free social media marketing is on a forced diet. Time to think about the new marketing menu with care.

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  • Cheryl

    Re John Haydon’s prediction, can you help me find information on Facebook squelching page updates? Google isn’t bringing back anything obvious. Thanks!

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  • Kayla

    In reference to #6 (Fusion Marketing), I think that this is going to be extremely important to retailers, especially small retailers. SnapRetail is a company that works with small independent retailers. The brand allows its customer to post to different social media pages and create email campaigns all from one platform.

  • milenaregos

    I agree. Small businesses need an integrated way of looking into their metrics and it would be great to have some more platforms in the marketplace that allow marketers and business owners to take a look at their analytics and make educated decisions. I’d love to see something more useful than what’s already out there.

  • http://www.whosbloggingwhat.com/ Jeff Ente

    I think that @Mike_Stelzner and @DaveKerpen really nailed it on the emergence of paid social media exposure and the uncertainty of organic reach going forward. Remember, somewhat sadly, way back in 2011 when we were all so excited about our beautiful free Facebook business Pages, with all those great fans? Well it is now 2014 and you now have to pay to communicate with most of those hard earned fans. Turns out that we don’t really own our social media followings, we just rent them and our landlords are getting increasingly sticky fingered. But it’s all good, I think.

  • http://www.myrlandmarketing.com/ Nancy Myrland | Marketing & So

    Cheryl, I can’t recall any specific blog posts for you to read, but many of the social media consultants I share groups with are quite unhappy to see their and their clients’ organic reach declining significantly. There is a lot of unrest out there.

  • http://www.myrlandmarketing.com/ Nancy Myrland | Marketing & So

    Jeff, even more reason to get our own real estate in order, inviting our target audiences to visit us on our blogs and websites by producing relevant content.

  • Angel Yari Zacharia

    This list was really informative and great predictions.
    Personally I think the first prediction, The resurgence of Advetorial (people have a tendency to go back to ‘old’ when ‘new’ becomes too much) and the interactive video, will be the next experiments. We have seen the evolution from contents to snaps to seconds long videos taking the world over.
    People are fed up with the clutter in their dashboards and all the social media platforms will come up, or I think they are actually coming up or already came up, with tools to sort out which news the user want to see or which account’s tweets the user want to see first when they logs into the account. So the companies will be making new strategies to be on top of the people’s priority list.
    Thank you Cindy, for the wonderful article. :)

  • Michael Bian

    The most important aspect in business is marketing…

  • http://www.agencyplatform.com/ Dave Thompson

    With every successful social platform wanting to dominate the internet world and a lot of small platforms emerging as huge success, it’s really hard to predict anything. Though a lot of predictions in here a bound to be true but a considerable impact of something on the internet world is less likely to be predictable.
    Thanks for all the information out here, I will watch out for it.

  • Scott Boyher

    Michael, you stated in #9 that “Paid Social Becomes a Requirement”. Do you think at any
    time in the future, primarily Facebook, will charge to have a business or fan page? As of now, anyone can create on but I have a feeling that free pages will become a thing of the past.

  • http://www.homespothq.com/ Tyler

    ROI for social media is getting to a breaking point of feasibility. I’ve shifted my focus to email lists and building our internal user base. It’s sad that the social media following I’ve spent countless hours building is becoming worth less and less with every update.

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  • http://www.pamelahazelton.com Pamela Hazelton

    Doubtful. I think Facebook needs all those pages to continue to attract all types of users. I think the primary focus will then be “pay if you want those you don’t know to see your content.”

  • http://www.pamelahazelton.com Pamela Hazelton

    Doubtful. I think Facebook needs all those pages to continue to attract all types of users. I think the primary focus will then be “pay if you want those you don’t know to see your content.”

  • Victoria Armstrong

    Really exciting trends to be involved with – appreciate the insights here

  • Victoria Armstrong

    Really exciting trends to be involved with – appreciate the insights here

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  • Michael Bian

    Great point and insights thanks for sharing!

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  • http://www.conseaair.com/ John Brown

    HYPE… HYPE and HYPE! Would you really call it a hype or it was quite sure that today no branding is possible without social media exposure. Hence, your predictions are telling a real story which is good for all social media agencies.

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  • Jitendra Padmashali

    Nice Michael !
    Facebook also announced growth in mobile ad revenue, with mobile
    advertising accounted for a healthy $1bn of $2.6bn in sales made in Q4. Facebook remains an important platform that should not be forgotten in any social marketing campaign.

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  • OwnStLucia

    Brilliant article! The kind that makes you instantly and eagerly
    subscribe via email to receive other articles right in your inbox.
    Thanks for sharing. Looking forward to receiving more yummy content

  • OwnStLucia

    I do agree that interactive video is going to feature much more in the future. Although I think it will take the form of a more participatory form of inbound marketing using video technology that enables company and wide spread customer interaction.

  • OwnStLucia

    I agree with Nick and Bernie that social media has made its mark in the marketing and advertising arena and the price is going up. But I do believe that there will still be a significant amount of valuable free content as persons try to hook their potential customers in. Its a feature of content marketing that will continue to be used as bait, although the game changer tactics will come at a premium. I do think however that the cost is going to rise, as demonstrated by Facebook and you will have to pay to play.

  • OwnStLucia

    Employee brand advocacy is a trend that I think is on the rise and will grow exponentially because of its power to expand the reach of a brand.









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