As organizations are wrapping up their first quarter of 2014, they are undoubtedly looking at what the remainder of 2014 holds for their social media initiatives. Although most will contend that predicting the future is impossible, it is a pretty safe bet that there will be change in the remainder of 2014 that will challenge organizations and their social media efforts. Successful organizations will be monitoring and responding to these changes to ensure their social media programs continue to contribute to the bottom line. As noted by professional speaker Marcus Sheridan, “2014 will be the year of Social Media Reality. The era of fun, games and rainbows is over. Companies will finally accept that “likes” and “shares” are not KPIs (key performance indicators)”. 2014 will be the year that organizations get serious about social media and that will require the agility to respond to change, driven by advancements in technology and changes in the behavior of online users.
Wearable technologies like Google Glass and Galaxy Gear smartwatch will challenge content producers, designers (smaller surfaces for content) and technologist (greater demand on voice/audio). Users of these devices will require that they fully integrate into their social media networks so that they remain connected to to their friends and have the ability to share experiences on these wearable devices.
Bigger, smarter and more affordable televisions will provide another medium where users will want to be further connected to their social world. Most televisions being produced this year will include internet connectivity and the availability to launch social media applications. However, the full integration of social media and television has not yet broken through to the mainstream. Marketers anxiously wait on the sideline for that to happen, as it would transform the one-way advertising that has been in place since the first commercial appeared on television in 1941.
New social media-centric devices will also enter the market, specifically designed to serve the needs of social media. One example is the new Socialmatic camera from Polaroid, a one time leader in the photography world with a storied past of bankruptcy and corruption. The Socialmatic will allow users to quickly upload photos and videos to social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and PInterest. These devices will provide a new touch-point for social media marketers that will bring another opportunity to further relationships with their customers and prospects.
Changes in user behavior
Social media users will continue to move to new platforms. Some will move for new features or to be cutting edge, others to stay ahead of marketers and for the younger folks, their parents. This continual movement will require social media specialists to monitor usage trends. Movements that are already underway include the rapid migration to social media platforms like Vine and Snapchat. Vine, an offshoot of Twitter, allows users to upload a “tweet”-sized version of a video – limited to 6 seconds that continuously loops. Snapchat provides ultimate privacy as chat images can expire in 1 to 10 seconds.
Podcasting, once thought to be a forgotten technology, is expected to have a resurgence in 2014. Michael A Stelzner, CEO and Founder of Social Media Examiner, believes that podcasting will continue to grow substantially as more marketers being to understand the value of reaching people while they are working or driving via audio content. He says, “Podcast listeners average 20 minutes per episode (which about matches the average commute). Compare that to an other online channel and nothing matches”. If your business has not started podcasting, now it the time.
Organizations that successfully monitor the social media landscape and detect change will be further challenged in determining which trends are important enough to shift their current initiatives. John Michael Morgan, keynote speaker and consultant, provides one final caution for organizations that may be tempted to react to all change “a trend is a sign that everyone is moving in the same direction & that you should move [in] the opposite.”