The times are indeed a-changin’, with social media now an integral part of everyday life for many people, and social media marketing has become an essential part to any digital marketing strategy. Digital marketing has come a long way in the past few years, and social media has revolutionised how customers engage and follow brands.
But what exactly is next for social media marketing? What changes or social media evolutions do we expect to see over the course of 2015? And how will business attitudes towards social change?
Social Media taken seriously
Slowly but surely, heads of companies are seeing the value that a combination of content marketing and social media marketing can provide.
This means bigger budgets, and more time spent on social media marketing. Because of this, we’re also bound to see more jobs for dedicated social media roles, and perhaps even teams in larger companies. In smaller companies, marketers will be spending a bigger percentage of time on the social side of their roles.
Many people focus on the creation of content, and forget all about distribution. Sure, you could write the best blog post that has ever existed; but if you don’t entice or showcase your work to an audience who may be interested, what good is that? And with audiences with a shorter attention span and less time to waste online than ever, social distribution really is an essential tool as part of digital marketing as a whole.
Although organic social posts are likely to grow with more money behind social media marketing, paid advertising on social networks is set to explode throughout 2015.
Despite the fact adverts have been readily available on a number of platforms for some time, such as Facebook and LinkedIn, more networks are jumping in with their counterparts. Instagram is rolling out sponsored posts, Snapchat features promoted “live” snaps from brands, and even Tumblr is now showing promoted posts to users.
What will make the most difference, is likely to be a huge increase in Twitter advertisements. Already proving very popular, 2015 will see more marketers allowed a social advertising budget.
More Video Content Marketing, and More Videos on Social Media
When you look at the state of the social media landscape in 2015, it’s quite interesting to see what people are using.
Alongside this, Facebook video has been a surprise success throughout 2014 (even if many of us have little choice in the matter), with the number of video posts per person increasing 75% globally. Auto-play videos in home feeds are becoming dominant, for better or worse; but there’s no denying their popularity and spread. However, for some this may be a bit of a turn-off, and drive them away from Facebook. But this in no way diminishes that video is a dominant way of sharing moments with your friends, with better cameras and internet capabilities on smartphones.
Again, Facebook-owned Instagram introduced 15 second videos to compete with the underrated almost cult-like network Vine (from the guys at Twitter), with Facebook even launching Hyperlapse for Instagram in order to create timelapse videos specifically for Instagram.
With the rise in Video on Demand (VOD) services, it’s no real surprise that people are more used to consuming video online and on-the-go. YouTube will go from strength to strength, with no real stiff competition for user-generated videos on this scale. YouTube is now becoming an alternative to watching television, with loyal legions of fans behind top video-creators; and so advertising on the platform will be taken much more seriously through 2015.
Already in 2015, Twitter has announced plans to take video into live events, and “making video the natural platform” for Twitter. What that actually entails is still unclear, but it shows the potential for video marketing in 2015.
Social media posts need to be more relevant in 2015, with a rise in so called “Agile Marketing”.
So what exactly does this involve? It’s all about generating the right response to current affairs at the right time. And that doesn’t mean just chiming in opinions on the latest stories; but showing your brand reacting in a way that won’t alienate or cause cringes from followers if you are cashing in on something completely irrelavent.
Basically, this means that more marketers will be expected to monitor social networks, and the internet at large, in order to take advantage of current trends. This can help with brand awareness, content virality, and general message spreading. A great example can be seen below; where Kit Kat chimed in on the iPhone 6 “bendgate” debacle. Some would say that has nothing to do with their chocolate treats, but they found a way; and it proved very popular.
Social Commerce or “Scommerce”
Ecommerce has proven itself, Mobile Ecommerce (Mcommerce) is growing rapidly, and Scommerce (Social Ecommerce) is set to be the next step for shopping online.
Already, social networks are experimenting with the possibilities. Twitter introduced Twitter Product Cards, alongside both Twitter and Facebook introducing call-to-action “Buy” buttons directly in your home feed.
It’s also been documented that hidden within Facebook Messenger, it is ready to support a payment feature. This would most likely involve using Facebook as a form of digital wallet, similar to Google Wallet or Apple Pay, alongside the ability to save credit card information so you can check out more quickly with ecommerce websites.
What does this mean? It means that more online stores could be getting sales directly from social media. Something that is not going to spark a revolution overnight, but 2015 does look promising on this front.
Right now, most brands utilise Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn. Some will use Pinterest, perhaps Instagram, amongst others.
The same goes for most people. Most people who use social media will have a Facebook and Twitter at least, with business-orientated people mostly found on LinkedIn. And then some people will have a Google+ account they may largely go unused.
However, 2015 could see the rise of the next “Facebook”. Remember when Facebook wasn’t a gargantuan force in the tech world? It may seem a while ago, but before that, Myspace were the power to mess with. Although Myspace still exists, it’s a shadow of it’s former self; and Bebo has also undergone a major ovarhaul but is still miniscule compared to it’s former popularity. So could we see Facebook get overtaken in 2015?
Perhaps not as such, because Facebook struck lucky in that when they made it big, everyone was internet savvy, and Facebook is so baked into our daily lives (whether the logo is on advertisements, business websites, or elsewhere), it seems they may never go away. But people are beginning to become apathetic towards Facebook, and it’s showing. Whether that is through the popularity of smaller networks, such as Instagram, or the rise of new ones, such as Ello.
Whatever Facebook’s fate, Instagram is growing quickly, and boasts “58 times more engagement per follower than Facebook, and 120 times more engagement per follower than Twitter”. That is not something to be sniffed at, even if it is still now owned by Facebook anyway.
Ello is essentially the “anti-Facebook”, and although it may not take off like some predicted (I’m going to predict it won’t despite how much I’d like it to), it at least proves that people are ready for the next big social network. A new network could get started in 2015; it’s not out of the question. It may not take the crown from Facebook this year; but it’s very possible a network could be plotting to steal the crown shortly. Watch this space.
Quality, not quantity
When people didn’t really understand what Twitter and other social platforms were about, it was used to just push the same notifications over and over.
Now, business owners and marketers are realising just how much that can damage a brand. Instead of pushing mindless notifications, 2015 is going to see people get a lot more creative with their social strategy, due to the extra time, budget, and understanding. There is a heavier reliance from consumers on social, with social media being one of the most important ways a customer can engage with a brand, and stay up to date with a business.
The same goes for content; Google has taken a stand against more content, and quality content is now necessary for SEO and any hope of gaining top rankings. To gain traffic, this content is going to need great social posts in order to broaden the audience and gain more views.
So there we have it, a round-up of what to expect from the combined worlds of social media and digital marketing. What do you expect to see, or what would you like or dislike to see, throughout 2015? Let us know in the comments below, or over on Twitter @XanthosDigital