If you haven’t started already, you need to plan now for the New Year. Soon, your personal and business lives will be swept up by the hurricane that is about to hit: the holidays. Historically, the month of December doesn’t leave much time to strategize. While you have a little time left, read up on the four social media trends that will affect your marketing landscape the most in 2014.
Today’s social media users seek sensational stories that they can share with their friends and family. So if you can’t beat them, join them. In 2014, more marketers will cater to the constant and instant gratification that users crave, especially now that they are competing with the viral visual content on Pinterest and Tumblr.
You don’t necessarily have to use headlines like Buzzfeed’s “25 Amazing Benefits of Living with Your Best Friends” (which garnered 720,139 views) and “If Modern-Day Harry Potter Had Instagram” (477,703 views), but you can take what makes that content sensational and spreadable and use it in a positive way. The common denominator of today’s sensational articles and great marketing content is relevance. That’s what you need to get your posts shared on social media.
In the aforementioned examples, everyone who has a best friend or is familiar with Harry Potter (so just about everyone) can read it and relate. Swap “best friend” for their pain points and “Harry Potter” for personal stories that involve your industry and you’re ready to relate to your social media followers. Combine those tactics with eye-catching, thought-provoking headlines that will make your target audiences click every time.
Hashtags are nothing new. The way you use them in 2014 might be, though. Many businesses struggle to relate to millenials in their marketing campaigns, but the answer was right in front of them all this time. Not only are hashtags searchable on Google and used on almost all major social media (Facebook finally followed suit in 2013), they are the common thread that ties social media users together.
It’s like those comforting conversations with friends – they nod, tell you they know exactly what you mean or say they have been there, done that. They “get” you. The qualities that people look for in brands are essentially the same qualities that they look for in friends: a sense of understanding and a sense of humor. And in social media marketing, you are communicating with them through the same medium that they use to keep in touch with their peers.
You should engage with millenials in the same way that they do with their friends, which is through long tail hashtags, trending topics and buzzwords – like #sincewerebeinghonest, for example. It’s a fun game that allows them to fill in the blank. You could also use a brand-related one, like your slogan. Use a unique hashtag across multiple platforms to start an ongoing conversation between you and your younger audience in their preferred medium.
Taco Bell is great at this. Read our blog post about their strategy.
Every marketer can go on and on in any channel about how great their company is. With widespread access to search engines and social media, there is nothing that today’s users haven’t seen before. Many of them see no reason to develop brand loyalty – if you don’t have the product, service, size, color or price that they want, they can easily find it somewhere else. That’s why in 2014, more marketers will set themselves apart from others through cause marketing. The new motto is “ask not what the company can do for me, but what the company can do for the world.” And the place where cause stories will spread the furthest is on social media, not your site.
While not every business is capable of launching large cause marketing campaigns – whether it be because of budget, resources or clashing ideals – an easy, cost-effective way to get involved is to do a few charity events each year. During the holidays, you could participate in Toys for Tots and buy presents for families who can’t afford Christmas and encourage your fans and followers to donate. That way, you’re getting them involved instead of simply advertising your involvement.
For some of the same reasons that cause marketing is gaining ground, transparency is becoming increasingly important to today’s social media users. The term “transparent” basically refers to putting your brand completely “out there” on social media, having no dirty laundry. In 2014, smart brands are being as transparent as possible on social media.
Users have access to thousands upon thousands of business profiles who all swear up and down that they’re the best, even if they’re a scam. It’s often difficult to differentiate between the businesses that are “legit” and the ones that are not. Not to mention, new scandals are coming to light each day, calling social media posts and corporate motives into question. For example, recent comments made by Mike Jeffries, the CEO of teen retailer Abercrombie & Fitch, cost the company quite a few customers.
What other social media trends are you noticing?