2013 was a huge year for social marketing, and in 2014 we’ll see ever-richer digital marketing opportunities, including optimized photo and video ads and a chance to take social beyond the confines of the social network. Here are seven social marketing trends to watch for:
1. The Second Screen
The second screen is finally coming into its own as a marketing device with the introduction of TV-synced ads. It’s now possible to use certain “signals” to identify when someone is watching a TV ad while simultaneously using a mobile device. This allows marketers to send hyper-relevant messages to audiences. Today, 88% of consumers use mobile phones while they watch television, 53% of them to look at social networks, so marketers need to design campaigns with this new dynamic in mind.
2. All Hail the Image
In 2014, images will take center stage in social advertising. Facebook's new image specs allow for larger, more high-res images, up to 1,200 pixels to power Sponsored Stories, which will help marketers get noticed within the feed, even when they’re competing with friends’ photos, status updates, etc. News Feed ads have already proven to be successful and lucrative for marketers. The new, larger image format will only make them more powerful.
3. But Video is the New King
The number of online video watchers is expected to double to 1.5 billion by 2016. Yet only 24% national brands use online video to market to consumers. In 2014, marketers will take advantage of video. Shortly after Twitter purchased looping short-video app Vine, we saw the launch of Instagram Video, and brands like Oreo and Lowe’e experimented with this unique format. Meanwhile, Facebook recently announced they are testing auto-play video ads, which has marketers salivating. Now’s a good time for marketers to start thinking about how they can best deliver messages in this new format in 2014.
4. The Evolution of the Feed
Social media now accounts for the majority of time on the Internet, so it’s no surprise the social news feed (or stream) has become the dominant way to consume information. While feeds historically prized immediacy above all else, we’re beginning to see two shifts: one toward quality content with lasting value, the other toward increased personalization. If a piece of content can do both, it won’t matter if it comes from a friend, news source or brand. Facebook knows this and has altered its algorithm accordingly. It surfaces not just the newest posts but the best and most enduring ones. In 2014, we’ll see the rise of tailored, quality-focused feeds with great content from brands.
5. Small Data is the New Big Data
Speaking of personalization, small data is rapidly becoming the dominant mechanism for tailoring content. Small data is all of the bits of information consumers send out, online and offline, including search traffic, shopping habits, brand preferences, social identity and more. When combined with external data, like time, weather and seasonality, small data allows marketers to micro-target real-time campaigns that are relevant and responsive. 2014 will be a huge year for small data-driven marketing; new technology to help marketers act on it will emerge.
Hyperlocal is often raised within the context of small businesses, which rely on local marketing to attract foot traffic and consumer dollars. However, hyperlocal holds major value for larger companies too -- particularly retail, consumer packaged goods and travel. Using hyperlocal data, companies can analyze buying trends and behaviors across all geographic locations and target their ads accordingly, producing exponentially better ROI through the power of personalization. Facebook and Twitter have already experimented with this and more will come this year.
Experts predict the number of mobile broadband connections worldwide will hit 2.1 billion by the end of 2013. The developing world continues to come online at a rapid clip via mobile, revealing a new opportunities to connect with people in inventive ways. Some 51% of advertisers, per eConsultancy, plan to use mobile ads in 2014. Count on Facebook, Twitter and other major social players to take advantage of this planned budget growth to help advertisers spread their messages.