The year’s end means prediction time. Well, we don’t have a crystal ball, but at socialdeviant we do have a unique perspective on the world of social media, given the work we do for a vast range of clients. No doubt, social media is changing fast, making it almost impossible to keep up. At socialdeviant, we experience these shifts on a daily basis, and it’s with this lens that I offer our point of view about what to expect in 2014.
- The C-Suite Joins In.
Contrary to some news reports, we argue that CEO’s are getting highly engaged in social media, on their personal behalf and to reach branding, sales and marketing objectives. For real this time, as CEO’s and CMO’s will get more aggressive, more specific, and more “planful” with their personal social presence. They will drive impact for their company by increasingly speaking with a human voice, avoiding corporate-speak while delivering their perspectives on business and marketing in an authentic way. If done well, we should expect to see the level of their personal followers rival that of their companies…all to the good, as we know that consumers follow topics and authorities far more than they follow brands per se.
- The Shift from Advertiser to Always-On Content Marketer Will Accelerate.
The rate of change will be driven by structural shifts enabling content to be planned, produced, syndicated, optimized, and archived for future use. The key structural change will be in organizational models and design — new roles, reallocation of existing budgets, and greater emphasis on content creation as opposed to brand management.
- Social Will Become a Prominent Activation Channel.
Gone are the days of simply generating buzz-worthy content. Making something “viral” will be taboo — instead, the focus will be almost entirely on measurable engagement that drives activation. Simply stated, we’ll see an increase in the tools and platforms that convert consumers into buyers and ultimately loyal users.
- Social Platforms will Consolidate, While New Content Types Explode.
Though the next Instagram or Pinterest may not be around the corner, new content types will explode. Vine didn’t exist 9 months ago, and we’ll see new content types emerging as mobile publishing tools evolve rapidly and individuals use mobile platforms to produce, share and manage their content streams. Likewise, as we saw with Twitter’s recent news about direct messaging, platforms will morph as the tastes and needs of everyday people evolve.
- The Era of the Newsroom is Coming to an End.
Social media content will migrate from 80% reactive to 80% planned. It will become an integral part of every brand’s content mix model, thoughtfully planned each year/quarter/month, and optimized at every juncture. Listening to consumers will remain critical, especially to corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives (knowing what your customers care about should be driving CSR). Likewise, listening will remain critical to teams as they address all customer inquiries, from basic questions to product/service failures.
- Social Gets Big By Getting Small.
Social content will refocus on narrow audiences of interest as opposed to trying to replicate mass advertising appeal across social spaces. The game will be played increasingly in the long tail. But it won’t end there. The more specific, the more useful, the more relevant, the more engaging the content is, the more shareable it will become and the more horizontal of an impact it will have.
- 2014 Ushers in Bottom-Up Branding.
The days of amplifying advertising campaigns into social spaces won’t be over, exactly, but increasingly we’ll see brands thinking about specific audiences, and specific messaging and content strategies to deliver for each of these audiences. More and more, we’ll see advertising pick up themes and even content initially launched in social presences – the best way to amplify social content is via advertising, vs. the other way around.
- Search Finally Equals Social.
We’ll see the full evolution of three social domains: explicitly social (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, more), contextually social (Amazon, Netflix, Xbox, more), and natively social (search). More and more, search and social will be inextricably linked as relevant content with great functionality, utility and entertainment value will drive consumers across social spaces at the speed of light.
Marc Landsberg is founder and CEO of socialdeviant, a Chicago-based social media and content strategy company. He will be speaking at Social Media Week New York
to discuss what life will be like in 2020.
Featured image by Dan Moyle