Is This the Next Big Thing in Your Content Marketing Strategy?

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Categories: Content MarketingEmail MarketingSocial MediaSocial Media Marketing

Is This the Next Big Thing in Your Content Marketing Strategy?

Most marketers approach the new year with a burst of resolve and a vow to tick off items on their marketing wish lists. But the digital world is evolving so rapidly that many marketers are left wondering which trends and technologies will endure beyond 2014, and which will just be flashes in the pan.

My big prediction for 2014 is that “consumers will become the new content marketers“. We’ve all heard the phrase “content is king” countless times, but it is becoming increasingly apparent that user-generated content is heir to the throne.

The explosion of mobile and mobile-focused networks like Vine and Instagram have made it easier than ever for consumers to create and share video, giving brands the opportunity to aggregate this content into powerful and authentic brand messaging. On Dec. 17 Facebook announced it will begin supporting video advertising for both mobile and desktop social users, further underlining the emergence of video as a powerful tool that crosses the boundaries of advertising, social media and both business-to-business and business-to-consumer marketing.

Here are four ways that you can empower consumers to become content-producing brand advocates in 2014 when planning your content marketing strategy:

#1. Tie social to traditional advertising

In 2014, bust social out of the silo by weaving a social layer across campaigns to inspire audiences to create and share content.

Include hashtags in your TV ads, print ads, in-store displays, and events to drive more conversation. Get even more participation by offering coupons or prizes.

Digital and social are transforming TV ads too. Recent research from Nielsen found that 88 percent of marketers believe that integrated multi-screen campaigns will become very important in the next three years. To compete, marketers must extend their TV ad campaigns across multiple channels — like real-time video ads and hashtag campaigns on social media. This year, watch for new and compelling ways to engage your consumers across all devices and screens. Brands like Dunkin’ Donuts are already using Vine videos in Monday Night Football television ads to tie together social and television advertising.#2.

#2. Connect the dots between social and email

Email and social are two powerful channels with a symbiotic relationship. In combination, they build, target and convert brand audiences, turning thousands of fans into loyal brand advocates.

According to a recent report from ExactTarget, 70 percent of marketers find product or prize giveaways to be an effective tactic for audience acquisition. These incentives prompt fans to opt into email lists, creating lasting relationships with customers like never before.

For example, Giant Eagle ran a Facebook sweepstakes for free tanks of gas, and included a call-to-action to sign up for their email list. By touting access to “exclusive offers,” they received more than 45,000 email opt-ins.

This year, kick performance up a notch by collecting user preference data to get unique insights about the interests of your consumers, and use them to create lists for targeted content and offers.  This will help optimize campaigns and increase revenue.

#3. Embrace social’s role in driving commerce

Still believe social media is just about engagement? That’s so 2013. Companies are now driving sales directly from social channels, and that will only grow in 2014.

One increasingly effective social commerce tactic is mobile couponing. With the explosion of smartphones, Business Insider predicts that 47.1 million consumerswill use mobile coupons in 2014. Offering digital coupons through social channels also adds a viral component. Fans and followers feel compelled to share your deals — an impulse you can stoke with incentives for referrals.

Meanwhile social merchandising — collecting, displaying and curating user-generated content regarding a brand’s products — has blended the capabilities of social marketing with the conversion potential of social commerce. Brands can encourage consumers to submit and share attractive, creative and authentic product information or purchases that link directly to trackable transactions.

Social data gets a lot of buzz. In 2014, we’ll start to see its practical application in driving commerce. Brands will seek user input via social channels to make product and marketing decisions. By building user content and feedback into their business model, they can make a measurable impact.

Online retailer ModCloth has found success in applying user data to inform their inventory decisions. Their “Be the Buyer” program allows consumers to vote for the designs that ModCloth will sell on their site. Items created as a result of the “Be the Buyer” program sell twice as much overall as other inventory.

#4. Increase the frequency of your social campaigns

A few years back, brands ran a single marketing campaign for months on end. But the rise of social has turned brands into publishers, constantly cranking out new content and campaigns. Moreover, social gives brands the freedom to create and launch campaigns on the fly — amplifying everything from product launches to flash sales. To stay competitive, you need to run multiple, frequent campaigns that engage multiple segments of your audience.

But don’t limit your campaigns to Facebook. As Pinterest, Twitter, and other networks build their user base, you’ll need to engage and convert those audiences too. You should have distinctive campaign strategies for each network. Consider cross-network campaigns that pull in entries from multiple networks, like Vine, Instagram and Twitter, via a hashtag.

Read more at http://www.jeffbullas.com/2014/01/09/is-this-the-next-big-thing-in-your-content-marketing-strategy/#wMxcZte4lbBE0uTs.99

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Social Media Marketing Trends in 2014: The 10 Biggist Predictions

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 Social Media Marketing Trends in 2014: The 10 Biggist Predictions

The 10 Big Social Media Marketing Trends in 2014

The age of innocence is over. Social media is moving from adolescence to post pubescent, facial hair growing adulthood.

In 2008 when I started on Facebook and Twitter it was fun, frivolous and social. Social media was unencumbered by the past, was encouraged by the future and treated as a toy by the big end of town. Automation was frowned upon and yelled down.

Today the legacy players in technology,  IBM, Oracle and Adobe  amongst others have built and are evolving “Enterprise Class” social media marketing platforms and infrastructure. Facebook and Twitter have become public companies and social startups are not just seen as the playthings of geeks.

It’s become serious business.

So what’s this mean to you?

It means many things and will impact at various levels and intensity across business, marketing and publishing. It will affect your planning, how you resource and even your corporate culture.

The game is still changing and you will need to continue or even start to adapt and evolve.  The old analog paradigms of print and mass media marketing and publishing are being pushed and pummelled. They are being held more accountable and measurable.

Social media maturity means implementing processes and platforms. Boring at times but efficient.

So what are the emerging social media marketing trends in 2014?

#1. Pay to play

Facebook likes were the start and the finish of Facebook marketing. Obtain 100,000 likes and you could reach a big crowd. Facebook becoming public means the shareholders want a return. That means that free reach is diminishing and paying for it is almost becoming the necessary evil.

Twitter has developed self serve ads like Facebook over the last 12 months in the USA and is now rolling it out into the UK and beyond. Yes, even Pinterest’s first promoted pins and advertising went live in October 2013.

It is becoming pay to play on social. The free lunch is much looking a touch smaller.

#2. Planning becomes a necessary evil

No longer is it enough to say that you do social media marketing because you have a Facebook and Twitter page. The increasing complexity means you need a strategic social media marketing plan. This means  defining your goals, audience and allocating a budget and appropriate resources just for starters.

It’s now time to write that social media marketing strategy.

#3. Brands out-publish traditional publishers

Social media has given us the power, platforms and world reaching networks to all become publishers. Innovative and creative brands and businesses are realizing that social media and content publishing are synergistic cousins and cohorts. Create multimedia content and share it on social networks and you start global conversations.

Brands such as Red BullGeneral Electric and Lorna Jane are becoming media companies and publishers with powerful results. Red Bull even has its own media company with nearly 150 employees. The humble blog  is leaving its training wheels in the shed. Content is now where it’s at. Mass media is starting to struggle to compete with the amplification and viral velocity of  social content driven by the crowd. Octoly discovered that 99% of brand conversations on YouTube are created by fans and followers.

Crowd sourced marketing is now becoming the norm rather than an afterthought.

#4.Visual social takes center stage

Visual social content  is now a serious contender in social media marketing due to the convergence of a few factors.

  • The rapid market penetration of smart phones and tablets
  • The widespread availability of high speed wireless networks
  • The decreased cost of data that makes high definition uploads cost effective
  • The emergence of focused visual media social networks such as Pinterest, Vine and Instagram

Add the emergence of visual content marketing platforms such as Shuttlerock and it’s a trend that is helping companies drive brand awareness and sales.

#5. Social mobile is now mandatory

The rise of mobiles and their almost universal acceptance and use means that optimizing your social content for mobile is vital. This runs on a few levels.

This includes:

  • Make sure your blog is viewable on mobile devices by using responsive WordPress templates
  • Visual content such as images and video needs to be made easy to view on smart phones and tablets

12 months ago it was a nice to have but is now becoming essential.

#6. Social media automation is no longer a dirty word

Automation used to be a dirty word on social but doing “social at scale” means that you have no choice. New emerging startups such as Sprinklr are helping brands do social and digital marketing efficiently. Traditional technology companies such as Adobe, IBM, Oracle and Salesforce are acquiring and integrating Enterprise class social media infrastructure into their product offerings.

This trend is also seeing the maturing of previously free platforms such a Hootsuite to grow up and offer platforms that offer a solution and one portal for your social media marketing.

#7. Wearable social takes big baby steps

Google glass is offering the promise of  doing social at the blink of an eye and with the movement of lips. 2014 will see the emergence of wearable technology that takes social out of your hand and onto your wrist and face. Samsung is also in the game with other startups trying to get a position on the starting line. The other vendor to watch here is Apple. Will they or won’t they play?

The two other important questions on this trend are, “what will be the adoption rate?” and “what will be its impact for social media marketers?” Look forward to reviewing the numbers in 2015.

#8. Google+ starts moving content

Facebook’s necessity of monetizing its social network to appease shareholders and become a sustainable business could be creating an interesting tangential sideshow. It could be pushing users into Google’s arms by using Google+. Google plus is not a source of revenue and doesn’t need to make money. It is helping feed the search beast’s golden search goose called “Google Adwords”

With over half a billion user and growing it is now becoming a vital cog in SEO, social media marketing and content moving. My blog has seen an increase of over 300% in content amplification on Google+.

Google  plus needs to be on your social media event horizon.

#9.  The increasing authority of online influencers

Klout and Kred were two of the first movers to allocate online influencers some credibility. This was at first seen as imagined rather than true and authentic. As online influencers in their niches have grown tribes and followers on social networks brands are starting to come out to play.

Brands have done this in the past on traditional media and that is why mass media influencers such as Tiger Woods is sponsored by Nike.  This is starting to happen on social media. The question isn’t “should we?” It is more about  ”how can we?

The power of the social micro niche influencer on a global scale is now becoming evident and real. Expect to see this trend become more visible in 2014.

#10. Brands start ignoring mass media in larger numbers

The first inkling of this was seen when Beyonce launched a new album in December last year. She ignored the traditional mass media release of a radio campaign, multiple TV appearances and retail and consumer brand promotions. Instead she announced it on Instagram to her 8 million followers with the word “Surprise” and proceeded to launch the 14 songs and accompanying 17 videos on iTunes.

A success?

The unofficial numbers are said to be 365,000 album downloads on the first day and 1.2 million tweets in 12 hours. Beyonce has her own distribution network and its called “social media”. The power of  her fans and crowd sourced marketing is now apparent to all. An interesting question here is “does she need traditional mass media?”

Expect to see to see more of this in 2014.

Read more at http://www.jeffbullas.com/2014/01/07/the-10-big-social-media-marketing-trends-in-2014/#1ygT3tbh4RErQ7z9.99

Social Media Is Not the Savior, But…

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ImageIt’s still surprising how many businesses are ignoring social media. I’ve heard the various arguments against – that it’s a fad, that it’s mostly kids (nope), that there’s no significant value-add – but none of these stack up in the face of ever-growing data to the contrary. I’ll admit, even I was once sceptical of the benefits of social media. I viewed social media as complimentary to traditional media channels, nothing more. It would never overtake traditional press and broadcast platforms. It would never become a critical pulse for business. I was wrong. And now, while I can understand where those opposing views stem from, my response to these people is that you’re viewing social from the wrong perspective. In 2014 it’s going to be more important than ever that your business has an active social media presence. Here’s a couple of the points to pass on to the unconvinced as to why social media is more valuable than they may think:

1) Don’t think in terms of immediate value, but in potential value. Some brands might be able to ignore social media, go on about their business as they always have, leave those new channels to others. Some brands can do this and suffer little negative impact, but the more important element here is that by ignoring social media channels, you are missing out on massive opportunities that are waiting to be taken up. There are millions of conversations happening on social media everyday, some of themare relevant to your business. By ignoring them, maybe you’re not losing anything from what you currently have, but you are missing out new opportunities. Having a dedicated social presence takes time and investment, but it has the potential to produce amazing results, many of which you wouldn’t even be aware of if you didn’t actively track and participate these conversations. Or, in more immediate terms, there are opportunities out there, right now, that you’re not aware of because you’re not actively participating in social media conversations. They’re going on as we speak.

2) People say things like ‘Likes’ don’t mean anything – ‘anyone can press the ‘Like’ button because it costs nothing and there’s no commitment’. This is true, pressing ‘Like’ or re-tweeting something doesn’t translate to direct revenue for your business, but that’s not necessarily the point. The first relevant point of these endorsements is the data you gain – you can see what gets a response and use that in future planning. But more importantly, as soon as someone presses ‘Like’, they allow you access to their NewsFeed – you can advertise to them directly (though NewsFeed algorithm changes have affected this). Maybe they ignore your messages, maybe they ‘un-Like’ your page, but it’s a way in, a starting point for future conversations. Social media is about relationships and you need to establish the network before you can sell to it. Re-tweets spread your message, giving you the data and expanding brand awareness via the extended followers for every re-tweeter. It’s not money in the bank, it’s the start of the conversation, which is, potentially, just as valuable. Latest studiesclearly show ROI is improving for both B2B and B2C companies, those results are only going to improve.

3) The amount of readily available consumer data is of significant value to your brand. You would have heard all the reports of the amount of data people are putting online. Big data allows you to target your message more than ever before and the degree to which you can focus your advertising is amazing, and can produce amazing results. A simple example – a friend of mine is in a band and they were recently touring interstate. Their band is not well-known, but they have been compared to another, very well-known band. In order to get the word out about their upcoming gig, they advertised on Facebook – they were able to target all users who were fans of that more well-known band within a 100km radius of the venue where they would be playing with sponsored ads that appeared in those users’ NewsFeeds. The result? They sold out the show in record time, the first show they’d sold out in that state. This, all by utilising data readily available via social platforms. If your brand isn’t considering how they can utilise this, you really need to think over your strategy.

These are just some of the reasons why social media is crucial to the future of business. Social platforms continue to grow and diversify. If your brand is not active on these channels, not investing in social media management and monitoring, you really need to be asking whether you can afford to let these opportunities slip. And whether your competitors will approach things in the same way.

Maybe time to add another resolution to your 2014 list.

The 10 Best Social Media Predictions for 2014

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Übersicht der Marketing-Instrumente

Übersicht der Marketing-Instrumente (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: A business ideally is continually see...

English: A business ideally is continually seeking feedback from customers: are the products helpful? are their needs being met? Constructive criticism helps marketers make adjustments to their products and services to adapt to the changing needs of their customers. Source of diagram: here (see public domain declaration at top). Questions: write me at my Wikipedia talk page or email me at thomaswrightsulcer@yahoo.com (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: A business ideally is continually see...

English: A business ideally is continually seeking feedback from customers: are the products helpful? are their needs being met? Constructive criticism helps marketers adjust offerings to meet customer needs. Source of diagram: here (see public domain declaration at top). Questions: write me at my Wikipedia talk page (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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In my years in marketing and media relations, I’ve learned there is one constant: change. If you can’t embrace it, you will wither on the vine. Peeirng into the crystal ball of 2014, I found some excellent prognostication from people that know much more than I do on what’s next in social media marketing. Here are the ten best I’ve found so far.

1. More real-time marketing. From John Kultgen on PR Daily. When the Oreo Super Bowl ad went viral, the wheels were turning in marketers’ heads everywhere.  Kultgen says, “The brand set a new standard for extremely timely and relevant content. Sporting events, awards shows, and season finales became the source of inspiration for many brand’s posts throughout the year.”  Real-time marketers will help fans engage in an experience. Savvy brands will learn how to do it well, not a la Kenneth Cole.

crystal ball

2. Whether your real time is faster than my real time will no longer be the problem. From Marketing Profs. “Marketers will begin taking advantage of new capabilities that enable them to act on insights in the very moment they need to act. Speed of delivery will no longer be the problem. The real opportunity is whether an experience can be delivered when it counts for the business—and when it matters most for the consumer.”

3. Word-of-mouth marketing will take off. From Jason Falls on Social Media Explorer. Falls say that consumers will continue their migration away from sponsored messages and banner ads. “We don’t want the blinking lights of Times Square. We’d rather have the relative peacefulness of a stroll around Greenwich Village.”  Falls says marketers are going to have to migrate to Snapchat, Path, Vine, and any other network that connects people but doesn’t have an established business model. But beware, “you’ll only be there for a year or two before the ads emerge and consumers migrate again.”

4. User-generated content will be the hot content commodityFrom Marketing Profs. What many already know, most will start taking advantage of: user-generated content creates loyalty, puts the fan/customer in the driver’s seat, and generates sales. Every fan wears a marketing hat. Rick Mulready dubbed this “embracing fandom” on Entrepreneur.

5. Short form content will dominate. From Julie Fleischer, Director of Media & Consumer Engagement at Kraft (via Content Marketing Institute).  Fleischer predicts that short form sound, sight, and motion will deliver greater viewership and higher engagement than long-form. She predicts, “ brands will compete over who can tell the shortest stories with the biggest impact.” Consumers will be the winners.

6. Niche interest networks will increase in prominence and usage. From Adam Vincenzini on PR Daily. Even though they will never significantly make a dent in the market share of the big channels, they will get more attention in 2014 as marketers who want to stay fresh look to engage the crowd that embraces innovation and change. It’s all about learning to ride the wave.

7. More visual, less text. From Jessica Smith on Social ‘N Sports. Smith cites how images have changed the way we digest social: “photo albums, pictures, and video get 180, 120, and 100 percent more engagement respectively (Facebook).”  We’ll have to push ourselves to keep up with all the channel settings that will enhance visuals for maximum engagement. Note recent Twitter changes.

8. Erasable media. From Dave Kerpen on Inc. Kerpen predicts our desire for the ephemeral will give rise to new channels and move current mainstream social media networks to adopt a disappearing content function. Kerpen attributes this to our increasing desire to personally share with one another. “This means that you’ll have to be prepared to have the results of your hard work in content marketing literally vanish.”

9. Social listening will become a requirement, not an option. From Pam Moore on Marketing Nutz. Moore says, “Brands of all sizes will start to understand that they must invest in social listening strategies, tactics and technologies to truly understand, inspire and connect with their audiences. Managing and protecting brand reputation must start from the inside out.” Preachin’ to the choir.

10. Investment in social media will become a necessity, not a luxury. From Jayson DeMers on Forbes.  As demand for good content and measurable results increase, brands will move from spreading social media duties across existing positions to hiring social media managers, according to DeMers. The era of assigning social media duties to a “tech-savvy, passionate” staff members is over. When companies need outside help, they will be looking for agencies that know social media business, not just social media tools.

There you have it. What’s your best guess at 2014? The comments are yours.

The Benefits of Quality Content and Genuine Social Engagement

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The Benefits of Quality Content and Genuine Social Engagement

ImageWith every algorithm update, Google is making SEO more and more complex. The company has expressed its desire to improve the quality of their search results, filtering out spammers and content of lower relevance — but how that ‘relevance’ is determined is becoming increasingly difficult to understand to a definitive degree. The elements that are regularly highlighted by Google are ‘quality content’ and ‘genuine engagement’.

The issue with quality content is that it’s less scientific. Less certainty in the process means more research, more work and, ultimately, more investment to ensure best results for your online presence. This can be a frightening prospect for companies — you can’t just go to Google Adwords and ensure all the relevant search terms are included on your webpage, you need people to be actually reading your content to up that relevance rating. Real people and real engagement.

The one metric that is totally clear is the need for social engagement. How many ‘Likes’, ‘re-Tweets’, webpage links — these elements are being weighted more heavily by search engines. The social media aspect, which used to only form a part of the SEO puzzle, is becoming more influential. The idealistic result of this is that users get a better quality experience all round, but the underlying motivator is that, over time, organic results will be diluted to the point that brands will have to pay to get best ROI. The only way to combat this is to create great, sharable, engaging content and become an active participant on social platforms. But what’s the best way do you do it? How do you know that the content you’re investing in will give your company the best results? Here are a couple of points to keep in mind:

  1. Quality content is what your clients want to read, not what you want to tell them. You can’t just load up your company website with a heap of updates on what the company’s doing, how you’re helping clients, etc. These are all sales pitches and, in the majority, these won’t be widely read. You’re caught up in the corporate culture and the internal wins and losses, so the temptation is to write about them, show the people how good the company is, sell them on that culture that you, yourself are invested in, but you need to take a step back and think about what the clients want to know. What are the articles you’re reading each day? What is of interest to you, as an industry expert? What are the things clients need your services for? If you are not an industry expert, not following all the relevant influencers in your field, then you need to be and you need to be viewing their insights from the client’s point of view. Inform clients of industry trends and updates, write about positive stories in which your brand has had an influence, but always be wary of the sales angle. Social media is about building relationships, rather than booking sales. The more you’re able to establish the first, the easier the second will become.
  2. Content that gets highly shared is content with heart. Real stories, real storytelling, actually getting to the humanity of something, rather than corporate messaging. All businesses affect the lives of real people, many in very positive ways, and these stories are gold. They are not only great to tell, but they show the genuine passion of your brand. If you can express that passion in an engaging way, you can create strong, shareable stories that will help expand the reach of your business, which has benefits across all aspects. Take time to think about different angles to your corporate stories, try and find the heart and humanity in what you do as a company and where your brand is able to help. And again, make it story first, corporate messaging second. You don’t need to sell to your clients straight up, you’re working to establish a connection, to communicate on a deeper level.
  3. Take time to engage in your online community. It’s one thing to use Twitter to respond to client concerns and queries, but you shouldn’t stop there. Look to have a presence on all social media platforms and in their respective communities, become part of them, participate where you can. You’ll often see a company representative drop into a conversation on Twitter or Facebook with no real introduction, saying ‘give me a call at *** and we can help you out’. This is not real engagement. You’re likely to build better customer relationships if you talk to people on a human level, offer advice and links to online articles (not necessarily your own company content) and show them that you’re the expert in your field. The opportunity to convert these contacts into clients will come, you don’t need to rush it. By being present and being a trusted part of the conversation, you will establish better relationships for ongoing business. And be honest and positive, at all times. Going online and trashing your opposition, using a half-truth to initiate a business conversation — these tactics do not benefit the establishment of ongoing partnerships.

As with anything, the approach you take will vary dependent on the industry, but the way to solidify your online presence, making your company more resilient to SEO algorithmic changes and enabling you to make best use of social media, is through the creation of engaging content and the establishment of trusted networks. It takes time and investment, but it will pay off, over and over again.

Ten Best Social Media Predictions for 2014

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English: Overview of green marketing activities

English: Overview of green marketing activities (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Marketing Metrics Continuum provides a fra...

The Marketing Metrics Continuum provides a framework for how to categorize metrics from the tactical to strategic. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: A business ideally is continually see...

English: A business ideally is continually seeking feedback from customers: are the products helpful? are their needs being met? Constructive criticism helps marketers adjust offerings to meet customer needs. Source of diagram: here (see public domain declaration at top). Questions: write me at my Wikipedia talk page (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: American marketing and social media g...

English: American marketing and social media guru, Stephen Monaco (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The 10 Best Social Media Predictions for 2014

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In my years in marketing and media relations, I’ve learned there is one constant: change. If you can’t embrace it, you will wither on the vine. Peeirng into the crystal ball of 2014, I found some excellent prognostication from people that know much more than I do on what’s next in social media marketing. Here are the ten best I’ve found so far.

1. More real-time marketing. From John Kultgen on PR Daily. When the Oreo Super Bowl ad went viral, the wheels were turning in marketers’ heads everywhere.  Kultgen says, “The brand set a new standard for extremely timely and relevant content. Sporting events, awards shows, and season finales became the source of inspiration for many brand’s posts throughout the year.”  Real-time marketers will help fans engage in an experience. Savvy brands will learn how to do it well, not a la Kenneth Cole.

crystal ball

2. Whether your real time is faster than my real time will no longer be the problem. From Marketing Profs. “Marketers will begin taking advantage of new capabilities that enable them to act on insights in the very moment they need to act. Speed of delivery will no longer be the problem. The real opportunity is whether an experience can be delivered when it counts for the business—and when it matters most for the consumer.”

3. Word-of-mouth marketing will take off. From Jason Falls on Social Media Explorer. Falls say that consumers will continue their migration away from sponsored messages and banner ads. “We don’t want the blinking lights of Times Square. We’d rather have the relative peacefulness of a stroll around Greenwich Village.”  Falls says marketers are going to have to migrate to Snapchat, Path, Vine, and any other network that connects people but doesn’t have an established business model. But beware, “you’ll only be there for a year or two before the ads emerge and consumers migrate again.”

4. User-generated content will be the hot content commodityFrom Marketing Profs. What many already know, most will start taking advantage of: user-generated content creates loyalty, puts the fan/customer in the driver’s seat, and generates sales. Every fan wears a marketing hat. Rick Mulready dubbed this “embracing fandom” on Entrepreneur.

5. Short form content will dominate. From Julie Fleischer, Director of Media & Consumer Engagement at Kraft (via Content Marketing Institute).  Fleischer predicts that short form sound, sight, and motion will deliver greater viewership and higher engagement than long-form. She predicts, “ brands will compete over who can tell the shortest stories with the biggest impact.” Consumers will be the winners.

6. Niche interest networks will increase in prominence and usage. From Adam Vincenzini on PR Daily. Even though they will never significantly make a dent in the market share of the big channels, they will get more attention in 2014 as marketers who want to stay fresh look to engage the crowd that embraces innovation and change. It’s all about learning to ride the wave.

7. More visual, less text. From Jessica Smith on Social ‘N Sports. Smith cites how images have changed the way we digest social: “photo albums, pictures, and video get 180, 120, and 100 percent more engagement respectively (Facebook).”  We’ll have to push ourselves to keep up with all the channel settings that will enhance visuals for maximum engagement. Note recent Twitter changes.

8. Erasable media. From Dave Kerpen on Inc. Kerpen predicts our desire for the ephemeral will give rise to new channels and move current mainstream social media networks to adopt a disappearing content function. Kerpen attributes this to our increasing desire to personally share with one another. “This means that you’ll have to be prepared to have the results of your hard work in content marketing literally vanish.”

9. Social listening will become a requirement, not an option. From Pam Moore on Marketing Nutz. Moore says, “Brands of all sizes will start to understand that they must invest in social listening strategies, tactics and technologies to truly understand, inspire and connect with their audiences. Managing and protecting brand reputation must start from the inside out.” Preachin’ to the choir.

10. Investment in social media will become a necessity, not a luxury. From Jayson DeMers on Forbes.  As demand for good content and measurable results increase, brands will move from spreading social media duties across existing positions to hiring social media managers, according to DeMers. The era of assigning social media duties to a “tech-savvy, passionate” staff members is over. When companies need outside help, they will be looking for agencies that know social media business, not just social media tools.

10 surprising social media statistics that might make you rethink your social strategy

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This UML diagram describes the domain of Linke...

This UML diagram describes the domain of LinkedIn social networking system. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Infographic on how Social Media are b...

English: Infographic on how Social Media are being used, and how everything is changed by them. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Facebook logo Español: Logotipo de Facebook Fr...

Facebook logo Español: Logotipo de Facebook Français : Logo de Facebook Tiếng Việt: Logo Facebook (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

HubSpot Leads Automatically Get Social Media I...

HubSpot Leads Automatically Get Social Media Info and Photo Added to Them (Photo credit: HubSpot)

Social Media Outposts

Social Media Outposts (Photo credit: the tartanpodcast)

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

Image representing YouTube as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

10 surprising social media statistics that might make you rethink your social strategy

 
 

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Social media is changing faster than ever, as if that wasn’t something everyone already knew!

If you’re managing social media for your business, it might be useful to know about some of the most surprising social media statistics this year. Here are ten that might make you rethink the way you’re approaching social media.

1. The fastest growing demographic on Twitter is the 55–64 year age bracket.

  • This demographic has grown 79% since 2012.
  • The 45–54 year age bracket is the fastest growing demographic on both Facebook and Google+.
  • For Facebook, this group has jumped 46%.
  • For Google+, 56%.

Those are impressive numbers against the prevailing idea that social media is ‘just for teenagers.’ It certainly points to the importance of having a solid social media strategy if these age brackets fit into your target demographic.

Rethink it: Keep older users in mind when using social media, particularly on these three platforms. Our age makes a difference to our taste and interests, so if you’re focusing on younger users with the content you post, you could be missing an important demographic.

2. 189 million of Facebook’s users are ‘mobile only’

Not only does Facebook have millions of users who don’t access it from a desktop or laptop, butmobile use generates 30% of Facebook’s ad revenue as well. This is a 7% increase from the end of 2012 already.

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Rethink it: There are probably more users accessing Facebook from mobile devices than you thought. It’s worth considering how your content displays on mobile devices and smaller screens before posting it, particularly if your target market is full of mobile users. Of course, make sure to make sharing to social media from mobile more straight forward.

3. YouTube reaches more U.S. adults aged 18–34 than any cable network

Did you think TV was the best way to reach the masses? Well if you’re after 18–34 year olds in the U.S., you’ll have more luck reaching them through YouTube. Of course, one video won’t necessarily reach more viewers than a cable network could, but utilizing a platform with such a wide user base makes a lot of sense.

Rethink it: If you’ve been putting off adding video to your strategy, now’s the time to give it a go. You could start small with simple five minutes videos explaining what your company does or introducing your team.

4. Every second 2 new members join LinkedIn

LinkedIn, the social network for professionals, continues to grow every second. From groups to blogs to job listings, this platform is a rich source of information and conversation for professionals who want to connect to others in their industry.

Rethink it: LinkedIn is definitely worth paying attention to. In particular, this is a place where you may want to focus more on new users. Making your group or community a great source of information and a newbie-friendly space can help you to make the most out of the growing userbase.

Make sure you share consistently to your LinkedIn company page and profile by for example scheduling your posts.

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5. Social Media has overtaken porn as the #1 activity on the Web

We all knew social media was popular, but this popular? Apparently it’s the most common thing we do online. So next time you find yourself watching Kitten vs. Watermelon videos on Facebook, you can at least console yourself with the fact that the majority of people online right now are doing something similar.

Social media carries more weight than ever. It’s clearly not a fad, or a phase. It continues to grow as a habit, and new platforms continue to appear and develop.

Rethink it: Putting time and effort into your social media strategy clearly makes sense in light of these stats. If you weren’t already serious about social media, you might want to give it a bit more of your time now.

6. LinkedIn has a lower percentage of active users than Pinterest, Google+, Twitter and Facebook

Although LinkedIn is gathering new users at a fast rate, the number of active users is lower than most of the biggest social networks around. So more people are signing up, but they’re not participating. This means you’re probably not going to have as good a response with participatory content on LinkedIn, like contests or polls, as you might on Facebook or Twitter.

Rethink it: If you’re hoping to get people involved, think about which platforms are best for that. Looking at the latest Twitter statistics and Facebook statistics, these platforms might be a better place for your contest or survey, while passive content like blog posts or slide decks might be just right for your LinkedIn audience.

7. 93% of marketers use social media for business

Only 7% of marketers say they don’t use social media for their business. That means there are lots of people out there getting involved and managing a social media strategy. It’s becoming more common to include social media as part of an overall marketing budget or strategy, as opposed to when it was the outlier that no one wanted to spend time or money on.

Rethink it: If you’re struggling to make your strategy work, or you just want some advice, you don’t have to go it alone. If 93% of marketers are using social media for business, you can probably find someone to give you a hand. Plus, there are lots of blogs, videos and slide decks around to help you out. Be sure to find the right social media management tool for you to stay on top of everything.

8. 25% of smartphone owners ages 18–44 say they can’t recall the last time their smartphone wasn’t next to them

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It’s pretty clear that mobile is a growing space that we need to pay attention to. And we’ve all heard the cliché of smartphone owners who don’t want to let go of their phones, even for five minutes. Well, apparently that’s not too far from the truth. If 25% of people aged 18–44 can’t remember not having their phone with them, there are probably very few times when they’re not connected to the web in some way.

Rethink it: While you can reach people almost anytime, since they have their smartphones with them almost always, this also means you can interrupt pretty much any part of their lives. Don’t forget that having a phone in your pocket all the time isn’t the same as being available all the time.

9. Even though 62% of marketers blog or plan to blog in 2013, only 9% of US marketing companies employ a full-time blogger

Blogging is clearly a big focus for marketers who want to take advantage of social media and content marketing. This is great, because blogging for your business has lots of advantages: you can control your company blog, you can set the tone and use it to market your product, share company news or provide interesting information for your customers. With only 9% of marketing companies hiring bloggers full-time, however, the pressure to produce high-quality content consistently will be a lot higher.

What a lot of people struggle here is how to write the best headlines for your articles, when the best time is to publish posts and lots of other blogging questions that arise when people are starting out.

(Of course, not all marketers work at marketing companies, but the stats are still interesting—how many companies in any industry can afford to hire—or already have—a full-time blogger?)

Rethink it: If you don’t have (or can’t afford) a full-time blogger for your business, be aware that having a content strategy that requires consistently posting on your blog will mean a lot of work for your marketing team and/or other team members in your company to keep up that volume. This can work, it’s just important to realize how big a task it is to run with a full-time content strategy without a full-time content creator.

10. 25% of Facebook users don’t bother with privacy settings

We’ve seen a lot of news about social media companies and privacy. Facebook itself has been in the news several times over privacy issues, Instagram users recently got in a kerfuffle over changing their terms of service, and the recent NSA news has seen people become more conscious of their privacy online.

But despite these high-profile cases of security-conscious users pushing back against social networks and web services, Velocity Digital reports that 25% of Facebook users don’t even look at their privacy settings.

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Rethink it: Assuming that all of your customers are thinking along the same lines could be a big mistake. Especially if you’re basing that on what you’ve heard or read in the tech news. Remember that your customers might have very different priorities than what you expect.

Your social media strategy really comes down to what your goals are, and who your target customers are, but it doesn’t hurt to pay attention to the trends happening across the web. Hopefully, these stats will help you to identify trends that will affect your strategy and adjust accordingly.

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