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What B2B Marketers Need To Know For '14

With new social media platforms and measurement tools appearing around every corner, it’s often difficult for marketers to pinpoint where their time and money is best spent. The new year will see social media becoming a key aspect of B2B marketing, and those working to create the perfect strategy will be pulled in more directions than ever before. The following are nine predictions to stay on top of if you want your social media program to not only stay afloat in 2014, but to thrive.

1. Businesses will increase investment in social media. Companies will recognize that social media is not just something to consider. It is a must-have. As a result, those who can afford it are likely to hire social media managers, coordinators or specialists to take on the task. Big organizations that refuse to fully embrace social media marketing will fall behind competitors when it comes to credibility and visibility.

2. The importance of image-based networks will skyrocket. In 2013, it became clear that visual content majorly trumped text-only in terms of social media engagement and shareability. In 2014, text-only news will be solidified as old news, and stimulating visuals will be essential to the success of content strategies. Sites that were made for such material, including Pinterest, SlideShare and Tumblr, will stop being seen only as spots to pass along cutesy photos and will gain respect as platforms on which to display industry ideas and insights. Image-centric campaigns reminiscent of Buick’s car design contest or National Poetry Slam’s social scavenger hunt will thrive under the ease of creating and sharing rich media, and businesses will leverage customer-generated visual content.

3. The use of online video for business will rise. Visual content won’t end with photos. As it becomes increasingly easy for the Average Joe with zero film experience to create decent video clips, we’ll see companies increasingly show, not tell, their brand messages. 

4. LinkedIn will continue to dominate. This professional network will keep gaining momentum, particularly among B2B marketers. While about half of LinkedIn members surveyed earlier this year noted they spend between zero and two hours per week using the network, according to Social Media Today, activity will likely increase with an improved mobile experience. Content will improve from both a brand and consumer standpoint with options for more focused material, such as Showcase Pages.

5. Google+ will gain momentum. Though things were quiet on Google+ for the network’s first few years, it made strides in 2013 and is now, ZDNet reports, the second largest social network globally, boasting 343 million users. The dark horse will continue to surprise critics as game-changing capabilities such as Google Authorship and Google Author Rank build popularity and lift the network to necessity status, giving companies that want a competitive edge in SEO no choice but to jump on board with both feet.

6. Twitter will be bigger and better than ever. Now that Twitter is public, streams are likely to be clogged with advertisements and sponsored content. However, users can look forward to a more graphics-based, mobile-friendly experience that allows for richer engagement and more shareable content. Hopefully, the exciting will outweigh the annoying.

7. MySpace will make a comeback – for some, at least. The ultimate social media throwback, though until recently only a “mirror-selfie”-riddled memory, is back with a whole new look, feel and purpose: connecting musicians to their fans and industry influencers. Artists will use the network to reach listeners, and, perhaps more importantly, to get their work in front of potential managers and record labels. It won’t be a major player for most industries, but the guys in charge of the makeover – including Justin Timberlake – believe that for the right folks, it will be instrumental. No pun intended.

8. Blunders will be rampant. With more companies embracing social media and more channels becoming available, there will be plenty of disasters alongside the successes. Expect many social media screw-ups and apologies, and avoid being one of them by not stretching your digital marketing team too thin.

9. Presentations will precede papers. Say goodbye to lengthy white papers and text-crammed SlideShares. B2B marketers will find that they get much further reach from content that is designed to present in engaging and real-time ways. While it will be beneficial to repurpose presentations as written reports, interactive content should be first priority. Think less writing, more webinars, and ask yourself: Could someone live-tweet this? 

What social media trends do you expect in 2014? Tells us in the Comments section or tweet your response to @Elizabeth11211 with the hashtag #SocialTrends2014.

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