I don’t have to a crystal ball to see the social media channel unfolding before our very eyes in 2014, however, I offer up my vision of brand promotion and protection for 2014 with the Top 5 Social Media Predictions for 2014. The social media path was blazed and it continues to unfold across 2014 in ways that we didn’t expect. The key to social media is understanding how to use it to promote and protect brand. Key challenges remain monetization, capital recapture, ROI, tracking, listening, internal segmentation, distribution and timely interaction.
- Company communication reaction time is critical. The faster we go the faster consumers go. The speed of the social marketing channel is like technology doubling every two years. What is “real-time marketing” anymore? If you can’t instantaneously respond to consumers on social sites, you may pay a high price as things which don’t seem very important may spiral out of control like a viral tweet of 40,000 reds in 2 hours – ouch. Everyone agrees the consumer is in control of this channel at this point, and the big question remains, “How does business manage this ever disparate channel?” Compaq reported this month that smart phones eclipsed desktop email opens for the first time. Consumer access to information on the Internet highway via hand held devices will accelerate through 2014!
- Search engine optimization is number one. It doesn’t matter how fast your company server is, or even how fast your site loads, if they can’t find you it won’t matter – your company is dead to that consumer. Of the 11 major search engines today about 75% of traffic crosses Google, Yahoo and Bing. Focus your on page and off page SEO efforts on being found. This strategy will produce results and will sustain the marketing and sales effort over time!
- Paid Internet advertising is critical to your success. The way to move customers to your website today is through Internet advertising. Prioritizing banner ads with social media advertising is important to your ad spend, ROI and visitors to your website. 2014 will again require a robust ad spend in the digital space!
- Consumers are clamoring for relevant content. Current studies show you have about 8 -10 seconds to capture the consumer’s attention. This will not be accomplished through the use of text but by visuals. Jessica Smith on Social ‘N Sports cites that images have changed the way consumers interact with social media. Pinterest is a great example. As an example, Hi Merit Pinterest account grew twice as fast as the personal accounts in 2013. Ms. Smith reports that “photo albums, pictures, and video get 180, 120, and 100 percent more engagement respectively (Facebook).” This means you’d better hire a content manager to centralize and integrate your communication channels. Company generated content will be the hot content commodity. Think YouTube, VINE or Vimeo. Brands will compete over who can successfully tell the shortest story – the consumer wins in the end for this competition.
- Timely interaction will define your social media program. Social listening is requirement, not an option. Pam Moore on Marketing Nutz says, “Brands of all sizes will start to understand that they must invest in social listening strategies, tactics and technologies to truly understand, inspire and connect with their audiences. Smaller companies can manage by assigning someone to each site, and a full time person to maybe 2-3 sites; however, larger companies have a serious challenge ahead as they need to distribute the client and consumer input to the right person/department.
Failing to properly do this and then communicate appropriately with the client or consumer will result in brand damage. Let me give you two failure responses: 1) “we are sorry you feel that way”…, and 2.) We are sorry for your inconvenience, but if you’ll do [this], we can help you”. Even the companies that are set up to respond timely, may still fail if communications are not resolving issues. Managing and protecting brand reputation must start from the inside out. As demand for good content and measurable results increase, brands will move from spreading social media duties across existing positions to hiring social media managers.
Managing listening is important and companies like Radian6 or Bazzarvoice can help you accomplish this, but more importantly, who at the company will respond timely to these tweets, posts, etc.? Segmentation, distribution, timely response, and issue resolution are the order for the day for 2014.
The idea that these top 5 will be your focus in social media for 2014 may be all solved in house, but when it can’t, please feel free to contact us or call us at 1+ 210-802-8949.