Thought leadership

2013 was a year where social media across the corporate world became an accepted component throughout marketing, PR and customer services. Businesses began to clearly understand not only the power that social media could offer their enterprises, but how this could be leveraged within their organisations. How can corporates expect social media to further evolve as we move into 2014

Social media in 2014 will become even more inexorably linked to the changes taking place across the e-commerce landscape. The establishment of mobile commerce will be complete in 2014 with more personalisation across this space to bring retailers closer to their customers.

Also, in 2014, 70% of Global 2000 organizations will have at least one "gamified" application, according to Gartner, Inc. Analysts said that while the current success of gamification is largely driven by novelty and hype, gamification is positioned to become a highly significant trend over the next five years.

"Gamification aims to inspire deeper, more engaged relationships and to change behaviour, but it needs to be implemented thoughtfully," said Brian Burke, research vice president at Gartner. "Most attempts at gamification currently miss the mark, but successful and sustainable gamification can convert customers into fans, turn work into fun, or make learning a joy. The potential is enormous."

More customer insight will also be available this year. Big data has delivered the raw information, 2014 will see this data used as the basis for enhanced social media campaigns. Forrester predicts that smart data – driven largely by mobile platforms – will develop what they call the ‘database of affinity’ that includes all brand social activity. Forrester say that to stay a leader your business has to have an "approach that combines the art of marketing – channel coordination based on your audience's behaviours across the customer life cycle – with the science of marketing – making investment decisions based on desired business outcomes and informed by data insights."

Businesses that rely on search will want to know what Google plans for the coming year. In 2013 the clampdown on anchor text in press releases some said would bring the end of PR as we know it. More activity like this is expected this year, focused on local spam. On a more positive note, Google will expand and extend its reach onto mobile devices and optimise its search platform accordingly with more obvious support for social media. Dr Pete Meyers, Marketing Scientist at Moz said: “If you have thousands of +1s but no links, no tweets, and no Likes, you may be in trouble. If you have thousands of links, but no traffic or social signals, you may be in trouble. Real sites with real marketing don't look like that, and Google knows it.”

Indeed, Google+ in 2014 will assert its power as Jayson DeMers at Forbes explained: “With Google using the platform to collect personal information (think demographics, location, etc.), Google+ should no longer be thought of as ‘just’ another social network. It’s increasingly proving itself to be an integral part of Google’s grand scheme in terms of SEO, social signals and providing a more personalized search experience. This is especially apparent with the importance of Google Authorship, which I project will be one of the key components to Google’s search ranking algorithm by the end of 2014.”

Also, the rise of micro-video content will continue throughout 2014. Last year the introduction of Vine showed that the world was ready and waiting for a video version of Twitter. Brand owners should take note and look closely at how video is incorporated into their social media campaigns. In 2014 brevity is the key to marketing success.

Wearable technology will continue to develop. Google’s Glass and the possible arrival of the Apple wristwatch could herald the arrival of yet another communications channel that social media will be able to take advantage of, and by association, brand owners too.

2014 will be the year that corporates really begin to see the results of their efforts so far across the social media environment. Campaign integration across multiple channels will be a must. Creating engaging content – often curated by advocates – will fuel brand awareness. The development of more intimate communities that enables brand owners to speak directly to their customers will expand and diversify.

And above all, 2014 will be the year where creativity across the corporate landscape will enable businesses to take what they have learned about social media, and develop next generation campaigns that not only connect with their audiences, but deliver measurable and repeatable ROI.



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