As expected, 2013 has been a great year for social media lovers. Social platforms are expanding and providing us with ever more dynamic ways of creating and sharing our content.
Looking forward to the next twelve months, here's a list of what I think will be the hottest social media trends in 2014.
1. Micro video marketing
Micro video sharing sites such as Vine, Snapchat and Instagram, had a fantastic 2013, and it is clear that they are here to stay for the near future. With users sharing millions of videos per day, there is an opportunity for marketers to make short engaging video clips promoting their brand.
The growth of Snapchat has been phenomenal, with over 350 million monthly users compared to Twitter's 244 million. Snapchat and traditional marketing methods do not go hand in hand, as the advert disappears after 5-10 seconds. However, successful campaigns have included sending previews of products, promotions, discount codes and competitions that can be shared by users. A great example of this the way in which 16 Handles, a US yoghurt store, have used Snapchat. Brands can now ask their customers to share their stories, or interact with them when they are in their shop or destination.
2. LinkedIn continues to grow
Linkedin is already the go-to social network for businesses, with over 250 million users. Expect continual growth as Linkedin expands its tools for marketers, with Showcase Pages allowing companies to have multiple brand pages. Also LinkedIn’s Influencers Program, allows you to “follow 150 of the most influential thought leaders”.
With its large user base of professionals, it can continue to help businesses produce creative content to build their online image. Linkedin is the place to go when snooping on a company or an individual in a professional manner. Brands are realising this and in 2014 we should see companies providing a lot more content to show that they are leaders in their chosen field of expertise.
3. Google+ gains momentum
Does anyone actually use Google+? Well apparently they do. Google’s new figures show that it is now one of the most used social media platforms, with over 350 million users. Google+ is at the heart of Google’s strategy in terms of SEO and integration, providing users with a more personalised search experience. This is evident with the importance of Google Authorship, which will definitely become even more important in Google’s SEO algorithm in 2014.
Google+ is all about integration with other aspects of the web, making it a simple and effective form of social media. With its integration of local search, it has the capabilities to appeal to businesses and individuals.
4. Image based content
Pinterest is now valued at $3.8 billion, as it is driving real time revenue to retail brands. This was seen over the Black Friday / Cyber Monday period, as tagging photos on Pinterest was shown to double the sales of products for the brands active on the site. Twitter has realised the popularity of images and recently allowed images to be seen without them being opened by the user. 2013 saw a trend in sharing image and video based content rather than text based content and this is showing no signs of slowing.
Businesses will have to think about the 'shaerability' of images on their sites in order to benefit from image based social media marketing.
5. Paid media reach on social platforms
With the rise of the micro video and image based social media platforms, there is a huge area of untapped paid media opportunities on these relatively new social sites. Both Facebook and Twitter were under scrutiny when they added their paid posts and tweet functions. However, they have now merged well within the news feeds and with the correct targeting they can actually add value to users.
As with all methods of paid placement advertising, it is about finding the right platform for your brand and being very specific with whom you target. Pinterest and Instagram have just started experimenting with ads, and in 2014, I am sure that they will fine tune them to better suit advertisers' needs.
In conclusion, 2014 is going to be a big year in social media for users, businesses and digital marketers. The biggest growth will be seen in micro video sharing sites and image sharing sites. On these platforms, it will be interesting to see how paid adverts work and how they perform in generating traffic and sales.