I am immersed in the worlds of content marketing and social media every single day. The only recent exception was when we spent Christmas Eve on a rural sheep farm where I unplugged because I had to. Confession: I’m so enmeshed in these worlds that sometimes I even dream in hashtags and tweets.
From everything I’ve seen in 2013 and everything I’ve read on the subjects (and my RSS feed runneth over), I put together my top nine picks for the upgrades you’ll likely see in content marketing and social media in 2014.
Mobile, Mobile, Mobile
Ninety one percent of all people on the planet have a mobile phone and 50 percent of mobile phone owners use mobile as their primary Internet source. Every minute your content is not mobile-friendly is time you’re losing audience and money. Mobile was important in 2013, mobile will be even more important in 2014.
Disrupt the Disruptions
Disruptive marketing (and disruptive advertising and disruptive innovation, etc.) has been buzzing for years, but with so many disruptions and distractions, the focus is now on disrupting the disruptions. Tablet devices (like the iPad) and 3-D printing have recently been considered big disruptions, but now the advertisers, marketers and innovators need to figure out how to startle us to attention in new and ever more ingenious ways. Let’s get to work.
Creativity is King
Everywhere you looked in 2013 you saw the phrase, “Content is king.” Repurposing content, curating content and similar concepts were very popular and remain beneficial. However, if you really want to get eyes on your content and add value, you have to be original and creative. Everyone is now creating content, so simply putting “stuff” out there is no longer enough. 2014 will be the year to really make your content stand out, so put your thinking cap on (and find a pro or a team to help — it’s not a one person job).
You must have a website, you should have a blog, but if you want to get found by your target audience, youneed to be everywhere. Be online, be offline, be on every relevant social channel and be original in every space. Sound like a lot of work? It is. That will be another thing to look for in 2014 — that all this work is paying off.
What’s In It For Me?
In every single piece of content you put out into the universe you must focus on what’s in it for your audience. Without a clear payoff, no one really cares what you think. Whether they admit it or not, everyone really wants to know, “What’s in it for me?” In 2014, if the reward isn’t obvious, it’s oh so easy to quickly move on to your competitors.
Facebook On The Decline
There have been whispers, there have been studies, but in 2014, Facebook’s user base will likely start to noticeably decline. Why? Most users understand that when they use a free service they have to put with a certain amount of annoyance (ads, information collection, etc.). However, ever since their IPO, Facebook has really been piling this stuff on and users are starting to lose trust and interest. Too many parents are on Facebook for younger audiences to spend much time there. Facebook changed its algorithms and if businesses and nonprofit organizations want people to actually see what they’re posting, they now need to pay to play. The decline will be gradual, but it will pick up speed in 2014. Where will people go?
Emergence Of New Social Channels
New social channels are emerging all the time — some catch on, some don’t. Snapchat was big in 2013. Who knows what will come along in 2014!? But as businesses become increasingly alienated by Facebook forcing them into paid ads and with fewer Facebook users viewing those ads, the market is ripe for social spaces to fill that gap.
Which, of course, stands for: Always Be Online and Responsive. Our attention spans have become much shorter. When people ask a question or complain online, they expect a rapid response. In 2014, you will need to act quickly and make things happen. There’s no time to be running every tweet past the legal department, so have a policy in place and know that flexibility will be required. Then be out there and be monitoring. Or be sorry.
Very few businesses have a homogeneous target audience. Your ideal customers probably span industries and interests. 2014 is the time to specifically test, address and cater to each niche to experience deeper, more meaningful connections. If you’re a car company, your racing aficionados are separate from the parents interested in a reliable, affordable family vehicle. Yes you should have a company voice (and yes, this is a simplistic analogy), but you need to have unique communications within each segment. And in 2014, this means taking things offline as well.
There you have it, my educated predictions for what we’ll see in content marketing and social media in 2014. Let me know what you’d like to see happen in those spaces as we ring in the new year!