2014 was definitely a great year for digital marketing.
Looking back the year’s top social media highlights, we recall some outstanding milestones such as the #IceBucketChallenge, Ellen’s Oscar selfie, the #BringBackOurGirls campaign, or the #Bendgate phenomenon.
It was an impressive year for social networks too:
- Instagram reached 300 million active users
- Every second, 2 people became LinkedIn members
- Facebook reached 1 billion active mobile users a month
- An average of 500 million tweets were sent per day
- 53% of Google Plus users interacted with a brand in a positive way
After a brief look at what last year meant for the digital sphere, to get a grip on what the near future may look like, we’ll now be shifting our attention to 2015’s top social media trends that are most likely to make an impact on brands’ digital marketing strategies. Let’s have a look!
1. Higher emphasis on online customer service
Social, a space in which more and more consumers are active, offers platforms for more direct and one-to-one customer service, facilitating a more human experience.
In 2015, brands will become expert at turning social media into an advantage. In an increasingly automated and non-personal brand-consumer ecosystem, brands will rely on social media to enrich, differentiate and improve brand reputation.
Responding to customer enquiries online, in a timely, responsible and intelligent manner, will prove to be a great opportunity to stand out through great customer service.
2. Niche networks’ development
Following the success of big industry players (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.) in the last couple of years, 2015 will be the year of smaller, niche social media platforms, that allow users to connect with fewer people who have the same interests or hobbies.
Networks such as Kerboodle (geared toward people who like to shop), Foodie (a community for sharing recipes) or Ravelry (a free community site for knitters, crocheters and designers) will serve as a source of inspiration, for new, interest-based platforms.
Furthermore, as most social networks make their money through paid advertising, niche networks will be perceived as the advertiser’s dream due to its readymade target audience.
3. The rise of wearable tech
According to our research, over the last year conversation around wearables has jumped a staggering 190%, an increase similar to that of wearable tech production.
In 2015, we’ll be moving past the application of wearable tech for very simple tasks, and as experts claim, a key focus for this year will be health. Microsoft, Google and Apple have released their own health platforms, as doctors seem to become increasingly interested in how wearable tech can be used to provide information about health.
Additionally, Apple’s first wearable, Apple Watch, expected to be a huge success, is likely to benefit the industry by building confidence in this new wave of computing.
4. Building relationships with vloggers
The popularity of vloggers, independent young video bloggers who film various aspects of their day-to-day life for thousands of followers to enjoy online, is already setting the future shape of marketing and advertising.
Out of the top 100 most subscribed YouTube channels, 17 provide vlogs as their primary style of footage, showcasing an amazing opportunity for brands to get involved. This year, another trend we’ll be noticing, is marketers reaching out to vloggers for reviews and exposure, and why not, starting to host their own vlogging channels.
5. More privacy on social media
In 2014, Twitter gave users the ability to share public tweets in private conversations, whilst Facebook launched “Rooms”, an app for anonymous group chats. Additionally, anonymous social media apps such as Snapchat, Secret or Whisper gained popularity at the speed of light.
Private/anonymous messaging is an area with a lot of potential to be seized by brands. In 2015, there will be a focus shift to this channel, as brands will increasingly start to embed it in their social media strategy.
6. Paid media evolvement
As Aaron Lee advises, this year, budgeting for paid media will be more important than ever. The increasing competition to get content across will, in turn, evolve paid media into another level, as businesses try to satisfy consumers’ thirst for good content.
The use of social media will only continue to rise and we can expect organic reach to continue to decline as the volume of content on these networks increases.
7. Less selling, more caring
Marketers will progressively continue to acknowledge the importance of talking to customers, not at them.
Telling a story, rather than pushing a message, will make a difference for those who understand that, on social, showing you care about your audience (by simply answering their questions, sharing content aimed to solve their problems or by engaging) matters more than pitching your services/products.
We’ll also be seeing more human, real-life related messaging. People tend to respond much better to campaigns, videos, images, etc. that relate to them directly, stories they can easily identify themselves with. And clever brands will be making the most out of this opportunity.
8. Instagram will continue to grow
Over the last year, Instagram has become the most popular network for sharing images and videos. Forrester reports that Instagram posts generated 58 times more engagement per follower than Facebook and 120 times more engagement on Twitter.
This year, Instagram advertising is expected to expand as the number of users will continue to grow. So, Instagram might be worth giving a try if you haven’t done so yet and if you’re still looking to boost your social media advertising.
9. Agile marketing: a key differentiator for brands
Agile marketing, making quick moves based on responses to real-time data, it’s a vital skill set for today’s marketing leaders.
The Super Bowl 2013 Dunk in the Dark tweet or the more recent KitKat’s #Bendgate tweet, are two brilliant examples of how spot-on reactions to external high-scale events can help brands boost their online reputation.
2015 will encourage other brands to attempt to replicate this success by monitoring trends, global events and industry shifts in real-time, minute by minute.
These are some of the key social media trends we see happening this year. But enough about what we think! We’d love to hear your predictions to please share your ideas in the comments section below!