This is a guest post written by Kimberly Barnes.
Ah, 2013. The year that “selfie” joined “bootylicious” in the Oxford Online Dictionary. The year that some genius created a poop version of the Harlem Shake — and 700,000 of us watched it. And, of course, the year that EVERY SINGLE THING on the Internet was viral.
Had enough of 2013? Don’t worry, with a few of last year’s trends on the decline and some new ones rising, there’s a reasonable chance that 2014 will be better.
1. Words suck.
Ironic, isn’t it? Here you are READING. What’s up with that? Face it, words are quickly becoming a thing of the past. In 2014, the most effective social media marketing will appear in the form of visuals — photos that evoke a feeling, videos that make people laugh, memes we can all talk about.
Textual content will have to be served up along with arresting images to garner any kind of attention in the coming year. Blogs — even small niche sites — will need a visual tune-up to reach their audiences.
2. Your audience wants things that go away.
We’d call these things “ephemeral networks” but hey, those look like — well, words. Big ones at that. This is Snapchat, and it’s fun stuff — spontaneous social posts that disappear just moments after they’re received. Beyond the stereotypical X-rated stuff, it gives users the chance to express themselves freely without having those expressions floating around the internet forever.
Snapchat appears to be growing more popular by the minute, especially with teens. Look for more of these networks to pop up over the year. And expect to receive a couple of dirty sexts and maybe even some titillating selfies via one of them — if you’re lucky.
3. Facebook is for old people.
Sorry, Facebook, but you’re just not cool anymore. Maybe it’s because you’ve already been around for ten years. More likely it’s because everybody’s grandma is into you now. But it’s true — while young people are leaving Facebook in droves, older people are just starting to really catch on to it.
So where are the young folks going? Mainly, it seems, to Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and even Google+. (We’ll get to that in just a sec.) As to what this means for marketers, that depends largely on what you’re marketing and who your target audience is.
4. Pay to play.
You knew it was coming, and now it’s here. The days of free social media are officially over. LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Google+, and Facebook are all offering some variation of paid sponsorships and ads. If you’re really smart (and persuasive), you’re already running some kind of hybrid campaign that combines organic and paid.
For the rest of us, it’s time to catch up. We’ll share a collective moment of silence in remembrance of days gone by — and then start researching and budgeting for new strategies.
5. Google is devouring the online world.
Not that we mean this in a bad way — on the contrary, we think Google will make an excellent Universal Ruler and Benevolent Despot of the known world. (Just in case the bots are reading this. Wink wink.)
But seriously, Google+ is fast becoming an important player on the social media scene. Recent numbers show that as Facebook loses ground, Google+ is gaining, and currently reaches nearly 3.5 million users each month. The benefits of Google+ for marketers are legion. It’s a great platform for brands to build a solid community as well as a place for consumers to connect.
Get on the paid +Post bandwagon as soon as you can. Keep a sharp eye on Google Authorship this year, too — and make the most of it. Authorship looks poised to become an essential element to SERP and Google’s search algorithm.
Other tips for 2014? Keep it short. Keep it creative. Keep it relevant. And for heaven’s sake, keep it real.
Kimberly is a content marketing specialist, born in the South back when
Apple was called “Apple Macintosh” and kids played Oregon Trail on its green screen. Still an Apple fan, Kimberly spends most days behind her laptop or pretending her kitchen is streaming a live episode of Taste. You can find her drinking a non-coffee beverage on a couch in Starbucks or on LinkedIn.