Columnist Krista Neher shares tips and predictions for social media marketers hoping to improve their game in 2014. What's hot in social... and what's absolutely not?
As we prepare to ring in a new year, it seems like a good time to evaluate what is hot and not for social media in 2014.
HOT: Search + Social
Social media influences search rankings. This is a fact; Google has admitted it. Yet many social marketers don't understand search, and many search marketers see social media as link-baiting and spam. As social networks play a more important role in sending signals to search engines, search engine optimization and social media are becoming more and more linked. In 2014, we need to become more integrated, understand each other better and optimize to maximize our results.
NOT: Silos Between Marketing Groups
It is surprising to me how many SEO professionals don't really understand social media, as much as how many social marketers don't have a clue about SEO. Integration won't happen if this continues. Attend some conferences or training to keep your skills up-to-date.
HOT: Paying to Play on Facebook
It is no surprise that organic visibility on Facebook has been on the decline over the past few years. Facebook recently acknowledged that brands should expect to pay to play on Facebook. Organic views for pages will continue to decline, and pages should expect to sponsor posts to generate visibility. If Facebook is a strategic channel, you should expect to increase your budget to maintain reach.
NOT: Expecting Continued Free Exposure
Growing a fan base on Facebook is no longer about building a free content distribution channel. According to Facebook and AdAge, the primary reason to build a fan base is to increase the social context and therefore effectiveness of your advertising network. Don't count on continued free exposure.
HOT: Strategic Content Marketing
So the term "content marketing" is maybe overused (and possibly annoying). All marketing involves content of some sort. But in 2014 and beyond, we'll see brands getting deeper into content marketing. They continue to build their own branded and non-branded content assets and "brands as publishers" will continue to grow as a trend. In 2014, this strategy will also be expected to deliver measurable ROI.
NOT: Vomiting Boring Crap all Over the Internet
Social networks are already cluttered with content. Most businesses post boring crap that people aren't really very interested in. We feel that we have to feed the social media monster with content - whether we have something to say or not. Instead of posting mediocre content regularly, post amazing content less often.
HOT: Visual Social Networks
Visual social networks like Instagram, Vine, Pinterest and SnapChat are all on the rise. If you've been ignoring them, 2014 is the time to dive in. As Facebook organic visibility declines, these visual social networks can provide unique opportunities for engagement and to build awareness.
Facebook is still the social media giant, and there is no question that it should probably be a part of any solid social media strategy. That being said, it is cluttered and becoming more difficult for brands and businesses to generate visibility, especially without a budget to promote posts. Consider experimenting with other social networks and reducing your reliance on Facebook. I've found that I can get better results for my business on other social networks with less effort. Experiment.
HOT: Google+ (ok... sort of)
Google+ isn't hot as a social network... it is hot because Google continues to focus on it. Google+ is becoming more integrated with other Google products and services: Pages are integrated into search results, authorship links content with Google+ profiles and pages, YouTube is integrated and Local search results now run through Google+. The importance of this network in the grand scheme of internet marketing (beyond social media) is definitely significant.
NOT: Calling Google+ a Ghost Town
Maybe Google+ is a ghost town (very few people use it actively), but calling it a ghost town means that you are missing the point of it. Google+ is about identity and connecting to search results. Calling it a ghost town, while possibly accurate, shows that you are missing the actual point of Google Plus.
As you plan for 2014, add what's HOT and remove what's NOT for a successful upcoming year in social media marketing!
Krista Neher is the author of the bestselling Social Media Field Guide, an international speaker, and currently CEO of Boot Camp Digital, which is a leading provider of social media marketing training and consulting solutions. Krista is a social media pioneer, creating one of the first successful corporate Twitter strategies and corporate blogs - long before "social media" was even a recognized term. After spending nearly six years at Procter and Gamble working on some of the biggest and most successful product launches, Krista went on to become the vice president of marketing at an Internet start-up.
Krista started Boot Camp Digital in 2008 and has created training programs for hundreds of advertising agencies, marketing departments and small and medium business owners in social media marketing. Krista also works with a variety of educational institutions on their social media programs and is currently working on a textbook on social media marketing.
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