Where is Social Media Marketing Industry heading? After a lot of thought process, I have jotted down the 18 most important trends of 2014 that will evolve in Social Media Marketing space and that will demand your time & money:
1. Facebook Marketing is Getting Dirty: As till 2013, brands were aiming to invest in increasing the number of Page Likes. There is no point in increasing the number of likes of a page, unless you decide to invest in Facebook’s ‘Boost Post’. With the reach of the page getting limited day by day (5-7% of people of your community or even lesser for the pages that are dormant with poor engagement strategies) brands will have to allocate a budget for making their post reach to their entire audience – almost like paying your own TV channel for advertising your own properties.
2. Try Facebook Offers: I have tried Facebook Offers on several occasions for various brands and they proved to have a better reach and better ROI every time. Invest more in running exclusive Facebook Offers and ensure that you write out in detail about your organization in the ‘Terms & Conditions’ section of Facebook offers – as it reaches the inbox of the prospect who claims it.
3. Create Really ‘Niche’ Community: Instead of randomly investing in ‘Number of Likes’ – invest in precise targeting. With advancements in Facebook Ads targeting, brands can now tap into people who are expecting a baby, parenting, own expensive mobile phones, has a birthday coming up and lot more. Get your ads customized to different incidents and occasions of your target audience – they will be overwhelmed and will show more interest than just ‘liking’ your page.
4. Facebook ‘Timeline’ Ads will get more Popular: 2014 is the year of Facebook ads on timeline instead of the right hand side ad place. The Ad size specification is 600 x 225 – make the best images with attractive content, offers and contest announcements to bring in more excitement and relevant crowd.
5. Facebook Apps will get Expensive: Unless brands don’t have a huge budget in creating, setting apps and promoting it – Facebook Apps will slowly become a thing of the past. Brands will invest in quick contents, contests and boost post than on expensive applications. However, I don’t rule this fact out completely – we still see innovation happening in this space.
6. Facebook ‘exchange’ will Annoy: Have you experienced the ‘haunting ads’ in the past? As Facebook API allows brands to re-target customers after they visit their e-commerce portal – showcasing same products in ads that the customers were surfing – luring them to buy, this re-targeting feature will raise questions on privacy!
7. 2014 is the year of Google+: Unlike last year, Google+ was not a great phenomenon. But with Facebook Marketing getting dirtier – brands will start approaching the Google+ coordinators of their countries in order to help them promote their brand presence. Growing Google+ communities, running contests and hosting hangouts on this platform are immensely beneficial for search engine optimization and cost-effective marketing (at-least for this year).
8. Invest in Animated GIF images: Google+ content strategies will demand for smart, funny and uniquely animated GIF images as that goes more viral than static pictures. Brands who are planning to invest in Google+ marketing should definitely invest in GIF images – they work well!
9. LinkedIn Business Pages Will Demand More Money: In January 2013, LinkedIn had launched ‘Business Pages’ that were in-line with Facebook business pages. People who invested their time in growth of LinkedIn pages where overwhelmed with the reach of the pages and rapid growth of followers – when regularly updated. However, 2014 will make LinkedIn pages more restrictive and demand investment in sponsored posts and LinkedIn ads for growth of the community.
10. LinkedIn Ads Expected to get Cheaper: With $2.01 as cost per click, LinkedIn will have to re-visit the costing if they want to invite more investment. However, this is merely an assumption that they will get cheaper. But, I sincerely wish they could get cheaper to invite interest and then get expensive later.
11. LinkedIn Contacts will Rock: Advance LinkedIn Contacts should be pushed forward amongst professionals to maintain better relationship with contacts. Professionals across the globe will use it as ‘Contact Relationship Management’ tool and will help in more precise, targeted and organized LinkedIn email communications.
12. Twitter Advertisements will be for All: Twitter might open more opportunities for Indians to invest in advertisements directly, without involvement of third parties. The self serve ad is currently active in USA, expected to roll out in UK & beyond this year. However, the current cost of ‘promoted trending topics’ will invite more entries from the entertainment, mobile sector. I remember it is about 3 lakhs Rupees a day – try on!
13. Mass Media will Struggle: Mass media will start struggling to amplify the voice through the affluent crowd. The affluent crowd will exist on Social Media in India and across the world. It’s a game of content after all and the crowdsourcing will take place on ‘Social Media’ – attracting more attention from Mass media!
14. Influencer Relationship Will Matter More: Brands will start investing more time and money in nurturing the relationships with online influencers. Brands will start sponsoring more celebrities to endorse their brands on Social Media. In 2013 Thumbs Up ad was first launched on Salman Khan’s Facebook Page than in the real world, celebrities will enjoy more such opportunities. Niche Social Media popular individuals will be hired or engaged to promote campaigns. Its time for each and every brand to build their database of ‘influencers’. Brands will compare reach and credibility of the influencer with the cost of social media advertising to take a call on brand-influencer strategies.
15. Mobile Friendly Presence: Ensure to make your website and blog mobile, tab friendly – the major chunk of affluent crowd is using internet on mobile phones.
16. What’s App for Small Business: With the growth of WhatsApp in India, small and medium businesses should start investing in WhatsApp groups or WhatsApp broadcast to communicate about the latest products. Ensure that the decision of joining your broadcasting list is opt-in. WhatsApp is more popular amongst the youth, the women populace and different age groups than Facebook these days in India. Small businesses or retailers must try this out!
17. Instagram & Pinterest will Grow: Since Instagram comes with an added advantage of editing the pictures before posting, it will continue to grow in India. Retail, Food, Hospitality and Travel brands will invest in Instagram more. Pinterest and Vine will also become an important part of Social Media strategies. Pinterest promoted pins will be talked about!
18. Investment in Visuals & Videos: Brands who wants to stay in the game of Social Media Marketing will continue investing more in the visuals in 2014. A brand with poor visuals will end its life soon on Social Media. As 2013 was the onset of infographic boom, 2014 will invite more comic strips. With penetration of 3G, Video marketing or video based contests will get more popular.