If we had only two or three big social networks out there, the jobs of marketers and social media managers would be a lot easier. The digital landscape is growing exponentially everyday though. The challenges brands thus face involve a bigger, yet scattered audience; more diverse, yet fragmented social platforms; and an ever more competitive environment with impressive marketing efforts, such as Airbnb’s innovative Hollywood & Vines campaign and the highly successful #ShareACoke campaign and took it to another level with Diet Coke’s stroke of packaging genius at the end of 2014.
A recent study states that one quarter of the world’s population uses social media. This means that 1,730,000,000 people are posting, pinning, tweeting, vining and instagraming. Brands have to be have social media evangelists on hand to keep them up-to-date with the latest developments and strategically investing resources into the trends that are likely to stick around. Here are a few of the top social media trends I see trending in the next year or two.
The first successful steps to push forward more sophisticated Scommerce were seen in 2014, for example with the introduction of Twitter Product Cards and innovative campaigns on Pinterest, such as Nordstrom’s extraordinary multi-channel campaign, creating a consistent customer experience across email, social and offline. Most recently and particularly exciting for ecommerce brands are developments for network-driven sales, a crucial category of Scommerce. We saw increased efforts to simplify the social network-driven buying process for online shoppers with both Twitter and Facebook pioneering the testing of “Buy” CTA buttons. Allowing users to purchase on networking sites is a no-brainer, considering for example Twitter’s liability to their shareholders and the massive growth of social media and ecommerce. A holistic co-operation of both industries yields huge potential for marketers. The perks? Another streamlined sales channel. The danger? Social media is about customer engagement and building genuine relationships and this goes agains all those rules.
Integrated social advertising
The social advertising trend from 2014, which saw Snapchat’s first ad, video ads on Instagram, auto-play video ads on Facebook and a greater variety of Twitter cards, will continue in 2015. In addition to new and enhanced social advertising channels, I also expect to see exciting new ways of firmly integrating social advertising with brands’ data bases and omnichannel strategies for sophisticated and contextual targeting. If you build your social advertising on rich and accurate behavioural data stemming from website, email, apps etc., and if you closely interlink it with your other channels, you open the door to the Cockaigne of social advertising with endless opportunities, from reactivation campaigns by serving ads to inactive or bouncing email contacts, to automating social retargeting and retention campaigns based on previous actions of your target audience. And bear in mind, the better integrated with your other marketing resources, the more relevant and tailored your social advertising will be and the less users will feel commercialized.
The revolution of mobile
More effectively than any other channel mobile lets brands create (and take advantage of existing) compelling micro moments at different stages of the purchase journey, be it through SMS, push notifications or in-app product recommendations. With technological progress in terms of geofencing and geotargeting retailers should put mobile and owned mobile apps at the core of their marketing activities reaching their customers with timely and highly contextual messages on a one-to-one basis. Considering a worldwide mobile penetration of 93%, major social networks are constantly improving their mobile presence. Social websites and apps being among the most used features on mobile, 2015 will inevitably see optimised web and social media sites becoming the norm and geo-targeted, contextualised real-time content an indispensable component in every digital marketing strategy.
Instavid, Vine, Snapchat, Hyperlapse – social video is up and coming holding two major benefits for brands. First, audio-visual storytelling is emotionally compelling so share your story and display your products with beautifully crafted messages. Secondly, vloggers and micro-vloggers are a great way of getting your message in front of your audience. But don’t collaborate with influencers only, common users produce a lot of content on new platforms such as Vine and Instagram – tap into this productivity and make user generated content part of your marketing strategy.
Picture Credit: LinkedIn