2014 was an exciting year for social media, with many powerful trends dramatically reshaping the social landscape. Now we look ahead to 2015 to examine the impact these five social media trends will have, and also to see what the coming year has in store.
1. Let’s get visual
Throughout 2014, the surge in popularity for apps like Instagram, Pinterest and Snapchat, coupled with the proliferation of smartphone penetration, rapidly changed how we interact with content online. Instagram has now overtaken Twitter in terms of engagement and followers, with 200 million monthly users, and is showing no signs of slowing down. This is a trend that will undoubtedly spill over into 2015 and become even more powerful as the mobile revolution takes social networks by storm.
2014 also saw an explosion in micro-video, with Vine and Instragram battling it out to become the leading real-time video network. The arrival of Instagram’s video ads means this trend is set to soar in 2015. This is a valuable opportunity for businesses to engage existing and prospective customers with a new level of interactivity. Visual content is easier to consume and makes for better sharing material, allowing marketers and advertisers to gain increased traction. Studies show that mobile users share twice as often as desktop users, so ensure your 2015 social media strategy is mobile-first.
2. Privacy, please!
Users are becoming increasingly aware that we are paying dearly with our personal data in exchange for seemingly ‘free’ social media services. The popularity of more anonymous and transient platforms such as Snapchat and Yik Yak, coupled with the emergence of the ‘anti-Facebook’ aka Ello, reveals efforts to capitalise on this desire for privacy.
Of course, the repeated hacks on the supposedly time-sensitive Snapchat photos have proven that complete privacy is difficult to deliver on the internet. However, demand for social anonymity is likely to grow throughout the year. Which poses the question: if social networks can succeed in providing such privacy, what will that mean for advertisers and social marketers?
3. Be prepared to pay
2014 was the year that Facebook said ‘no’ to free brand advertising. The dramatic demise of organic reach rendered paid advertising more essential than ever for brands looking to connect with their audience. We also saw the impact of organic reach plummet on LinkedIn as the professional network emerged as the number one player on the B2B marketing scene.
As more and more brands continue to battle for space on the newsfeed, increased competition will cause advertising prices to carry on rising throughout 2015. While social media is a cost-effective way to extend your brand reach, be prepared to increase your budget and think outside the box if you want to stay in the game.
4. Social shopping
Earlier this year, Facebook and Twitter began experimenting with ‘buy’ buttons. While still in beta mode, the fusion of social media and e-commerce is expected to take off at an unprecedented rate.
Real-time media provides an ideal platform for time-sensitive offers that require consumers to act quickly and impulsively. But connecting Facebook posts and tweets with actual purchases has thus far proved tricky in terms of analytics. However, this trend will provide advertisers with a concrete foundation on which to measure revenue figures and ROI, and to determine the effectiveness of specific content.
5. Social meets professional
Already dominating the B2B sphere, LinkedIn is set to make strides throughout 2015, leaving all other professional networks in the dark. LinkedIn is growing at a rate of more than two new members per second and currently caters to over 332 million members worldwide.
The social platform made a number of compelling moves in 2014, including the addition of its new publishing platform, allowing marketers, brands and journalists alike to gain increased exposure to a highly professional network of readers. We believe 2015 will see LinkedIn become the most invaluable networking tool and the only necessary source of reference for businesses.
Social media is one of the most efficient and cost-effective means to market your brand, extend your reach and engage with your audience. 2015 will be the year that social media officially becomes the most invaluable tool for advertisers and marketers.
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Header image courtesy of Roy Blumenthal via Flikr.