Social media is constantly evolving. In fact, it’s one of the most rapidly changing fields of media and technology we know. Every month seems to bring us new tools, new techniques and new developments which completely change how we view social media and its marketing capabilities.
So, with 2014 coming to a close, I thought it was a fitting time to have a look at some of the recent updates to the various social media platforms, and gaze into the crystal ball for what might lay ahead.
1. Facebook Pages will now have call-to-action buttons that brands can place at the top of their page. The seven different options for call-to-actions are, ‘Book Now’, ‘Contact Us’, ‘Use App’, ‘Play Game’, ‘Shop Now’, ‘Sign Up’ and ‘Watch Video’. The feature will roll out in the US over the next few weeks, and worldwide next year. [See Facebook’s news release]
2. Facebook updated its search tool, making it easier to find posts that have been shared with you in the past. For example, searching “Jona wedding” will bring forth umpteen examples of beautiful imagery of a lovely young couple. Well, if you and I are Facebook friends, that is. [More info here]
3. Earlier this month Instagram announced that the platform has now topped 300 million users, overtaking Twitter for the first time ever. In addition to this statement, Instagram also publicised that they will be adding Verified Badges for celebrities, athletes and brands, as well as starting to actively reduce the number of spammy accounts. [Check out our blog post on the topic]
4. Instagram introduced five new filters (for the first time in two years). The app’s UX has also had a bit of an overhaul with the ability to add, hide and rearrange filters. But even with these updates, I’m still personally using the supremely awesome VSCO Cam. [Read up on Instagram’s latest update]
5. Twitter just introduced a new ad option called “Quick Promote” ads. With just a few clicks, you can promote a highly engaging Tweet to more users who can take actions that drive your business. It’s kind of like Facebook’s promoted posts with added Twitter #flair. [Read more]
7. OK, so it’s not technically social media news, but this is interesting! The World Cup, Robin Williams, Malaysian Airlines and “Where is Sochi?” were some of the most popular Google searches for 2014 in Australia. [See the full list here]
WHAT LIES AHEAD?
Now we’ve covered off some of the recent updates in the world of social media, the next logical step is to ask, “What’s next?” Here are a few things I think we as marketers should look out for in 2015…
1. I see ads, I see ads, I see ads
Over the past few years, Facebook has been dramatically decreasing organic page reach in a bid to keep the newsfeed ‘clean’ and ‘user-friendly’. Sigh. What this basically means for brands is that unless you’ve got an insanely engaged and thriving community with a significant following, the only way to reach all of your fans is to fork out some cash.
Couple this with Pinterest rolling out its Promoted Pins feature to more businesses in August, Instagram expanding its options for advertisers, and Twitter expanding their advertising offerings to include more specific mobile targeting, businesses will more than likely boost their social media advertising efforts in 2015.
2. Video lovin’
While video has been a big weapon in many social media marketers’ arsenals for a while, social video will continue to gain traction in 2015. With the growing shift we’ve seen in video content marketing (I love Sportsbet and Maximus as examples) and the rise of young video bloggers on YouTube, it won’t be surprising to more and more brands jump on the video bandwagon next year.
3. Farewell, Google+
That’s right – I’m calling it. 2015 may well be the year Google farewells its own social network for good. With Vic Gundotra (Google’s Senior Vice President of Social and the “father of Google+”) announcing he was leaving the company earlier in the year, and Google killing Authorship back in August, the social network’s vital signs aren’t looking too great. So if you want to soak up the ghost town that is ‘Google+’ I’d do it sooner rather than later…
4. Data availability
In 2015, social marketing will require an analytical approach made conceivable by increasing data insights, as well as a focus on producing content of real value to consumers – not just what gets the most ‘likes’. While Facebook and Google+ have supplied data insights for years, LinkedIn, Twitter and Pinterest have recently become more transparent. Instagram will surely follow suit. Taking a data-driven approach in 2015 will allow marketers to measure their social media performance more precisely, as well as arming them with the numbers to make wiser decisions.
5. Let’s get personal
One of the truly awesome things about social media is its ability to target specific users with unique messages. In 2015, successful brands will be those that create and target unique content to specific audience groups. It may be as simple as a few tweaks to ad copy, it may be as involved as shooting 3 different versions of the one content piece. Personal is powerful.
But hey, maybe I’m off the mark with a few predictions. If none of the above pans out we can at least be sure of some things…
What are your thoughts and predictions? Let us know in the comments below!
Jona Peck is a Digital and Content Specialist at BCM