This is the time of year when writers and editors everywhere are working on blog posts and articles about what social media experts are saying is going to be “the thing” for 2014.
I’m not fond of the word “expert,” nor “guru,” “ninja,” or any other indicator that the titleholder possesses arcane knowledge. I do, however, consider myself a student of the phenomenon, and spend a lot of my waking hours studying and talking about social media. Thus – I am the recipient of a few of those requests for crystal ball gazing.
I take these requests seriously. Before crawling out of bed in the morning, I lie there, staring up at the ceiling. I continue the pondering during my morning ablutions, and while making the morning coffee. This is serious stuff.
Thinking back through the previous year: with a few exceptions, social media has been on a trajectory of sorts – big brands have been allocating more and more resources to social, doubling down on their investments. There have been some notable instances of content marketing – and thus, that whole notion of content as king is being taken quite seriously.
In the past, some new technology has come along and taken the world by storm; or at least the social media world. Remember 2007 when the iPhone made the cover of Time Magazine? Smart phone technology freed-up users of social media so that they truly could share their lives in real time. I didn’t see it coming!
Or the year that Pinterest launched and was discovered by wedding planning, feather-nesting, and dreaming-of-castles pinners? We’d already had several years of social media platform design patterns in the making. Photo galleries were always big – in fact, part of Facebook’s initial growth came about because of their handy photo gallery feature. But Pinterest – this creation of “boards” of photos – just seemed to really grab people’s imaginations. I didn’t see it coming, either.
Which suggests to me that I’m really not that good at seeing things coming. It also suggests to me that we are still in a rapid-innovation phase of social media; that new patterns of social media behavior are still to be designed.
There will also be a deepening of commitment to aspects of social media that are already in play. As more and more success stories are revealed, brands will expend some effort to find the major approaches to social media marketing that make sense for their brand and customers.
• Better and smarter processes for social media
• Allocation of more of the marketing budget to social media
• A focus on the creation of value through content marketing
• More use of social media advertising to boost natural engagement
If we study the history of social media – as brief as it is – we can make a guess that something will happen in this coming year: some new technologies or design patterns; some notable and interesting uses of social; and some embarrassing gaffes on the part of some brands. Beyond all of this, my crystal ball is fuzzy. Maybe I’ll switch to tea leaves.