So, was 2014 everything you dreamed it would be and more? Or was it one series of surprises after another, each one slightly worse than the last, until you felt your soul slipping away into a level of hell that Dante' was too scared to write about...Oh come on, it couldn't have been that bad. The good news is that we get to start all over again in just a few days and experience a brand new year.
Of course, that's a just a bunch of feel-good, pie-in-the-sky gobbledygook and we all know it. January first means at best a day or two off from the grind before resuming exactly, 100% where you left off a few days ago, last year or not. Life doesn't magically reset every 365 days, and neither does business. As I descend from my soapbox I will gladly admit, however, that we do measure accomplishments and growth in a year over year fashion. Best album of the year, sales numbers for the year, and so on. And so, trends in social media get equally divided into the yearly pattern as well. Which is all to say, let's take a look at what is being predicted for the coming year in social media, shall we?
Images and videos will become even more front and center next year, driving down the number of short posts in favor of infographics, images with text, and videos.
On the other hand, the source text for social media success, otherwise known as your content, will continue the flow from fast and quick to longform reads that involve really good writing and not just basic English skills. Longform articles are becoming the most viral and shared content on social.
It's Been a Nice Ride, but...
Unfortunately, the time of social media as "free" advertising is over. Social media is now all grown up, makes money as a real business, and is the platform where they allow us to market our wares. With that shift in power the rise of paid advertising on social is going to be big. Right now Facebook ads are the best bargain going, but next year expect those rates to rise a bit.
We Are in Sync
Next year the first phase in our eventual assimilation into the Borg will end, and the era of wearable tech will begin in earnest. We're already pretty much convinced as a society that we're going to have computers and robots all up in our clothes and everything else more and more, so now that the acceptance has been reached it's all down to implementation. Next year wearables will explode, and they'll all be connected to social channels, which will begin to dramatically change the way we interact with the web.
Let Us Entertain You
Entertainment sells, and there's a fine line between acting and marketing. Brands are starting to have their own in-house media companies - not just divisions - to handle all of their needs. Next year expect to see some brands spending their cash to purchase media companies for this very reason. Let's hope we don't experience a mass corporatization of social channels that drives the social spirit underground. People are pretty cool.
LinkedIn is Gonna be Huge
LinkedIn is tired of being "that other social network, the one for business". They're ready to be The Social Network for Business, and there's a big difference. The first is relatively unknown, with a small-to-medium sized loyal user base. The second is the authority on business and an essential part of every professional's repertoire. At the rate they're growing right now and based on their plans, they'll be opting for title number two next year. Their publishing platform is going to explode. Yeah I know, everything's exploding today.
Mobile Data is Everything
FourSquare seems so cute in the rearview mirror. The idea of somehow interacting with the business you're visiting on your smartphone really brought the physical and online worlds a little closer together, but that baby grew up fast. Here's why mobile data is the future: You hear or see an ad for a product you're interested in while about town. Using your smartphone, you find a retailer who carries it, maybe look at reviews, and possibly even pay using Google Wallet or a Paypal app. That sale is directly tied into your information to give the company accurate data about what is driving sales, instead of coming from the search bar on your computer which then gets undue credit.
Stop Talking and Buy Something
Facebook and others will aggressively join the mobile wallet space and jockey for position on current powerhouses such as Paypal. Twitter and Facebook will both roll out the "buy" button and the world of mobile e-commerce will enter a new era. I also predict that Pinterest will incorporate a "buy" feature that could put in competition with the likes of Amazon.
Death of the Laptop
Just kidding, but it got your attention more than " a bigger move into mobile" would have, right? The reality is that mobile is the holy grail, eventually culminating in the wearables movement or even as far as implants or tattoos. All of that is nothing more than an extension of your phone, really. The point being that you have something on you which is always connected and reporting your movements, habits, likes and dislikes.
Yes, that sounds very much like Orwell on steroids, but it's the unspoken truth about marketing and sales. The more we can know about someone, the more likely the chance that we can sell them something. We can call ourselves social media experts or consultants or whatever other non-threatening title we want to assume, but when it comes down to brass tacks we need others to buy our product or service so we can eat food, sleep under shelter, and other really fun stuff. Which makes us salesmen and marketers. And the more we know about someone the more have a chance to eat, sleep indoors, etc.
Bottom line? The push into mobile goes into high gear next year, both on the consumer side and on the back end.
Privacy and Anonymity
People are starting to get pretty ticked about the whole online privacy thing, and I think next year we may see some big moves forward in online privacy. Sites like Ello have been gaining popularity (while still in closed beta) for their promise of complete privacy. Other networks have relaxed restrictions on only opening an account under your real name. I think a push for more anonymity will join hands with the privacy push, and we may see some interesting developments next year in this area.
Google Plus Rides Into the Sunset
When Vic left town last spring, the coming death of G+ was announced far and wide. And Google denied it, of course. Since then, the lynchpins have been slowly yanked out from the platform - hangouts became a separate app, photos became a separate app, Gmail not linked automatically anymore, authorship program gone - until it now seems obvious that no one is trying to save it. Perhaps they'll revert to the original "Google Me" idea, which it seems to me would have been a better idea from the start.
And there you have it. Now you don't even have to plod through the next twelve months if you like, I've just saved you the journey. Based on the predictions above, expect to see Social Media Management tools such as Sendible adapt to these coming trends and implement new features to take advantage of what's going to be big in Social Media in 2015.