2013 was a big year for social media. The growth and popularity of mobile platforms, the inclusion of hashtags on Facebook, and Twitter's introduction of ads and a special website for businesses are just a few of 2013's biggest social changes. It's hard to imagine that there could be even more changes ahead, with the social landscape having completely changed in the last year, but 2014 is going to be another big year for social. Here are my predictions for the 5 biggest trends of 2014.
Social is about many-to-many and person-to-person
Social will no longer be stuck in just the marketing department. Every department of a business will get in on social strategy, interacting with customers, and creating content. This means that marketing automation -- the process of figuring out how to talk to your prospects via your marketing department -- will expand exponentially; you'll have more chances to enable real conversations between real people with more employees working towards your goal. Why only have five marketing employees working on generating leads or sharing content across social channels when you could have 25 to 30, or even the entire organization?
Customers no longer trust corporate marketing messages because they view them as inauthentic. Customers and potential customers want their questions to be answered by a real person, someone they feel like they know or potentially could know.
This concept is going to be the main idea behind most of the big trends in 2014. Customers are tired of being sold to, not having a real person to talk to about problems with products or services, and the feeling that businesses don't care what happens post-sale. 2014 is going to be all about finding a balance between representing your business' brand and the role of person-to-person contact.
The number of ways in which an individual can encounter your brand has exploded with the popularity of social media. These touch points, across all platforms, are important, but as mentioned previously, the most important touch point this year is going to be person-to-person contact, but not in traditional face-to-face or phone-to-phone forms.
Content distribution will change the content marketing game
Content distribution platforms are going to take off in 2014. With the growth of content marketing, businesses and brands are creating more and more content all the time. It's important to make sure your content is seen by the right audience. Adobe is a great example of a company that produces content constantly, but only presents certain content to certain groups.
Content distribution platforms will provide the perfect way to funnel your content to the right group and automate the process of sending it out and sharing it. Not only will this make content marketing more streamlined and effective, but it also means that this will amplify your content even more; if you share the right content to the right people, they're more likely to share it with their like-minded friends.
In 2013 and previously, we've seen the speed at which something can go viral. A tweet, a Facebook photo, or an ad can become the newest internet sensation in a matter of hours. While this can be a little threatening at times, it also means that you can deliver quality content and responses to concerns and problems at lightning speed.
You don't have to go through the traditional channels to get information out to your customers, clients, or prospects. You can craft something on the fly and get immediate penetration into your customer base. This puts the pressure on you to act when you need to act. The speed of information goes both ways now: you can deliver solutions in a second, and a customer with a problem can do the exact same. Your information can be fast, and your response to problems, complaints, and concerns is going to need to be even faster.