Pinterest, Vine and Google Plus: three of the sites to keep an eye on in 2014.
Predictions to help businesses stay ahead of the curve
Guest post by Nikhil Jain
Target audience: Marketing professionals, SEO specialists, PR pros, brand managers, businesses, nonprofits, educators, Web publishers, journalists.
With 2014 knocking on the door, we thought it was time to put down the eggnog and take a hard look at what’s going to be hot on the social media marketing front the coming year — and what won’t be hot.
Before we do, let’s take a quick look at a roundup of trends that have originated from the most popular social networks this year.
Google: A reboot of Google+
- Expecting a whole new surge of Google+ users (and rightfully so), Google made a wise decision to revamp the look and feel of its social network. The visually appealing, streamlined look was well received as more mobile users came to appreciate the larger displays and intuitively separated sections.
- Google+ vanity URLs are now available for users who fulfill certain criteria. To long profile links that contain a host of squiggly numbers, good riddance, we say!
Facebook: Hashtags and Verified Pages
Not surprisingly, 2013 has been the year of updates for Facebook.
- #hashtags were successfully implemented for profiles and pages. Now you won’t have to be ridiculed when you place them in your posts – they are now completely searchable.
- Facebook rolled out Verified Pages a la Twitter’s verified account. Even the little blue checkmark looks familiar, doesn’t it?
Twitter: Twitter Trends expand worldwide
- Twitter Trends is now available in 160+ locations, allowing users to narrow down current events to a specific area of their choice.
- Want to leverage the power of Twitter for your business but don’t know how? Luckily for you and other business owners, the Twitter for Business website was launched to assist both new and existing users in growing their audience.
LinkedIn: Notify your contacts
- LinkedIn finally gave its users the ability to mention contacts when posting, not unlike a feature that already existed long ago. Once mentioned, your contact will receive a notification that they’ve been mentioned in your post thus warranting their action.
Pinterest: Never miss a beat
- Pinterest greatly improved its look, and besides the aesthetic appeal, it now boasts a new Categories section that aids searches for business and connections.
- The new notifications feature is a natural – this feature ensures that you’ll never miss anything important related to your pins and activity on Pinterest.
2014: Image-based networks, social CRM, micro-video & more
The Internet sure came a long way, didn’t it? Now that you’ve taken a stroll through the major changes that happened throughout the year, let’s take a look at the top marketing trends to watch out for in 2014.
Google+ will finally shine (yes, really)
1Google+ is hardly the leader of the pack when its number of monthly users (359 million) is compared to Facebook’s (a whopping 1.15 billion). However, Google is ramping up its efforts to appeal to those who want to gain a competitive edge in terms of SEO and search engine relevance to build their network.
More people to invest heavily in social media
2No ifs ands or buts: More and more companies are looking to enrich their social media presence to the extent of hiring experts to man their campaigns rather than delegate the task to a junior-level employee. Business owners will increasingly embrace social media networking as a means to:
- Build their brands
- Create viral advertising campaigns
- Instill customer loyalty
- Reward customers
- Reach out to more people, even those from untapped audience demographics
Image-based networks will rule
3That’s right. While video giants YouTube and Vimeo continue to dominate, image-centric sites like Pinterest, Tumblr, Mobli and the likes will soar and businesses will aggressively leverage their built-in shareability.
Increasing need for social CRM
4Social CRM is the product of a perfect marriage between social media and web connectivity. More businesses will realize the importance of this tool, which encompasses benefits such as the ability to:
- Manage social networking accounts from the CRM platform
- Monitor and track current conversations and trends revolving around your brand
- Analyze, track and scale your social media activities to bring profitable results
Micro video will prove to be more exciting than YouTube?
5Instagram might have hit the jackpot when it added a new video feature. Twitter followed suit with its very own Vine. The latter allows users to post 6-second long videos, a smart move that kind of capitalizes on the speed and fun concept made popular by Snapchat. Think of the value you can off customers in creating and sharing videos in the blink of an eye!
Foursquare might slink away into oblivion … or will it?
6There are predictions saying that Foursquare might not make it to see 2015, citing stale traffic figures and financial problems in 2013, but we think that this location-based entity is not quite ready to die a premature death. Sometime in October, Foursquare made a bold move in rolling out self-service ads targeted to small businesses.
This opens a whole new world of convenience for self-reliant business owners who want to create ads without enlisting help from the Foursquare team. Apparently, this move pleases business owners like David Feit, Sky Room’s marketing director, who was looking for better ways to spread the news about the location of his luxury rooftop bar. With the self-serve ads feature, he was delighted to reach out to potential customers and pay only for actual check-ins. Other businesses have since benefited from the move, so we think that there may be hope for Foursquare yet to co-exist along with other social networks like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
Hype will give way to simplicity
7In a bid to woo customers, innovative marketers are shying away from loud, brash messages. More efforts are being made to create social media marketing campaigns that mirror that of Pinterest where minimalist beauty is king. Forbes revealed that consumers are increasingly being immune to the overly garish sensory input churned out by marketers who were too eager to take advantage of our highly digitized lives. In order for a marketing strategy to penetrate through consumers’ stubborn mindset, the campaign message (as well as accompanying aesthetics) needs to be clear, concise and simple – a far cry from the flamboyant efforts that are fast losing effectiveness.