New year, new predictions. The top 4 social media predictions for 2014

It’s the new year and a fresh start for everyone. These nba teams are starting to win so this year might be a great year.  In the social, digital and technology space, this year is predicted to be a banner year for new technologies but also a step further for marketers when it come to taking advantage of new social and digital platforms. And there also the increase in mobile ad spending. The outlook for all of them is leading to bold predictions from various agencies, experts and brands. I have a few of my own.  Below are my predictions for 2014.

Increase in social media ad spend 

In 2014, expect social ads to explode and get a lot more attention than they currently do. These ads are proving to be a lot more effective than some traditional forms of advertising, like banner ads. No one cares about banner ads, (clicked on 0.2 percent of the time), however social ads like Promoted Tweets show engagement of one to three percent— up to 15 times better.  Each one of these perform much higher than traditional forms of advertisements.

Video sharing will explode the way images did in 2013

Most millennials, the highly sought after target for many brands, grew up watching online video. It’s what they’re used to consuming and now are creating it more than ever.  Short form video platforms like Vine and Instagram have made it easier to create, edit and share video in real-time. And that’s not even including YouTube, the old guard when it comes to sharing video on social.

The signs for an explosion in video sharing in 2014 are all there.  Instagram introduced video a few months after Vine launched, Snapchat was offered $3 and $4 billion for their ephemeral image and video platform, (money they quickly turned down) which boasts users mostly between the ages of 13 and 25 and Facebook is launched video ads within the News Feed.  In 2014, videos will become the new image.

Google+ will grow in size and importance

Google+ has always taken a back seat for brands looking to connect with their users.  Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram always got the bulk of the conversation.  However, that’s about to change in 2014. Google+ has slowly but surely grown the number of active users to over 540 million in 2013 and in 2014, is poised to create more importance in the social space especially when it comes to search.

Google+ is baked into a range of Google products, including important consumer facing products such as Search, YouTube and Google Maps. While brands continue to carve out a presence on Google+, many have noticed higher search rankings as a result of their presence on the platform.

The importance of community building and brand ambassadors will increase

In 2014, brands will be spending much more time building communities with fans who are willing to help them spread the word about their service or product because they love it so much. Brands will have to find ways to build more word-of-mouth traffic because consumers trust other consumers. In a recent Nielson Global Survey, 84% of respondents said they trust word-of-mouth recommendations from friends and families over anything else.

What are some other predictions you’d like to include in the list above?



6 Reasons Why Every Brand Should Be On Google+

imageSocial Media marketing continues to evolve every day as brands are looking for ROI via engaging content on popular social platforms.  One platform they regularly overlook is Google+.   Most CMO’s look at the platform’s engagement numbers and are afraid to commit marketing dollars behind a platform that isn’t going to create social engagements like Facebook or Twitter. First of all, Google+ isn’t really a social network, it’s a social layer to search, so to expect comparable social media engagements results is the wrong approach. Second,  Google+ has many benefits outside of just engagement numbers. It can drive actual ROI via search results.

Google is the king of the web, even though Facebook is attempting to gain ground in that area with Graph Search and advances in their mobile offerings.  Google+ is the next evolution of Google Apps offerings and every brand should have a presence on Google+, even if the engagement numbers don’t match those from Facebook or Twitter.  Below are 6 reasons why every brand should be on Google+. 

Search integration – This is the immediate benefit to Google+.  Google’s search algorithm will customize results and content for users based on Google+ activity. Having a presence on Google+ will allow users to see branded content higher within the search results and ultimately may help with SERP ranking. 

Authorship ranking – If you are a brand with a blog, link it with Google+.  This will give your content a tiny image icon in search results, giving your blog higher authority but also makes your brand a trusted source. This is what it looks like in Google search: Click here.  

+1 – A Google +1 is very similar to the Facebook Like button.  Users can like your brand page with a +1 and the more users who +1 the brand page, the greater chance of having it show up higher in search results.  The +1 button is also used in status updates and content that’s found within search results. This is extremely important, as users can determine which piece of content gets higher authority within search results. If your branded content can get more +1’s, it’ll benefit your overall brand visibility. Also, unlike the Facebook Like button, +1’s are visible on Google+ and can be deleted with a click of a button. 

Google Hangouts – It’s like Skype but even better and available via the web.  Brands have the ability to use it as a customer service tool or give tutorials on new updates for users. It also has a record feature, which will upload the video to YouTube after the Hangout has ended. It’s an extremely useful tool that also helps with search ranking and makes it easy for team collaboration – Hangouts gives users the ability to edit Google Docs while holding a Hangout conversation.  This could be extremely beneficial for brands but it may not fit the needs for every brand.

Circles and Privacy – Google+ Circles have the added benefit of sharing content to specific groups of people without worrying about privacy. You have the ability to bucket different groups of people in different circles. Facebook has enacted something similar but Google’s privacy policy is extremely simple, so users know who they’re sharing content with. Unlike Facebook, it’s extremely easy to drag and drop users into Circles.

Analytics and ROI – Google+ doesn’t provide insights ala Facebook but it does provide clearer ROI than Facebook does.  Because Google controls the vast amount of content that flows in and out of the web, it gives brands the ability to determine where and how users are interacting with content and if they finally end up making a purchase.  There’s no clear distinction with Facebook or Twitter. That’s something that may change in the future, but right now, Google’s API has the leg up in determining a clear ROI.

As you can tell, having a presence on Google+ allows brands to get higher search value from Google, which can be a tremendous asset for new customers or conversions. Some brands have already started to heavily invest in Google+ content and are seeing the benefits. Have you started a Google+ page for your brand yet? What are you waiting for?

(pic source)