Top 5 Social Marketing Trends for Brands to Watch in 2015

Depending on when you read this, there are about 60 days left in 2014. Here’s what we’re advising our client brands at Friend2Friend to be thinking about for their 2015 plans.

Trend 1: It’s Increasingly a Mobile-First World

Not only is the age of the big smartphone here, but more people simply are spending more time on mobile. In the U.S., carriers’ shelf-space for devices with 4.7-inch or larger screen displays increased from 4 percent to about a third in 2014 alone, matching a sales growth – larger-screen phones now account for more than one-quarter of all sales, according to NPD Group

Millennials’ smartphones never leave their side, day or night. And Facebook’s most recent earnings report this week showed that while overall daily active users grew 8 percent in 2014, mobile daily active users grew 15 percent and mobile-only daily active users grew 34 percent. Where Facebook leads, others follow. Expect the trend across the board on social.

What Social Marketers Should Do in 2015

Switch thinking from mobile-aware to mobile-first. Don’t just plan for campaigns and content that “scale down” nicely on mobile. Start with mobile and plan to “scale up” nicely on desktop/laptop. Plan for everyone to experience everything, from marketing emails through websites to social posts, on mobile exclusively.

Trend 2: It’s Now a Pay-to-Play Social World

Forrester recently reported that brand interaction on organic Facebook posts is now squeezed to 0.073 percent. Social advertising spend continues to rise, though as a whole it still doesn’t match time spent overall on social. Only on Facebook has spending outstripped time spent – 6 percent of U.S. adults’ digital media time is spent on Facebook, but 10 percent of U.S. digital ad spending is now assigned to Facebook. But that’s because for most brands, Facebook means social. And Facebook’s ad products continue to improve in sophistication. As other platforms get their ad products launched, spending there will increase, too. Again, where Facebook leads, others will follow.

What Social Marketers Should Do in 2015

Ditch thinking about social as a free-place market. Invest in smart social advertising. Take the time needed to really dig deep on audience segmentation and targeting on advertising on the social platforms that are right for your brand. For some brands, that may be just Pinterest’s new ad products. And if Instagram is a smart platform for your audience, take advantage of it now while the organic reach and engagement is high.

Trend 3: Social Content Continues as the Rising Marketing Star

It’s not like using content to market came out of nowhere. It’s always been there. But the topic of content marketing seemed to attract an inordinate amount of attention in 2014, not only with regard to efficacy, but also about how hard it is to produce quality content in quantity. Marketers have been challenged to produce content for more channels (social, websites, organic search, newsletters, press, paid search, and more), and have been challenged to make that content meaningful and informative. Content will continue to be a central directive for brand marketers on social.

What Social Marketers Should Do in 2015

Continue to build content, but be smart about it. Be smart about how content can be leveraged and re-purposed. One expensively produced piece of content can be distributed in multiple ways to get more use – for B2B marketers, one white paper can be leveraged as infographics, charts, slides, videos and more, to squeeze value in more touch points. For consumer marketers, social audiences themselves can be a truly inspired source of content that is authentic and highly sharable, when commissioned, moderated and presented in a creative way.

Trend 4: Video Isn’t Just About YouTube Any More

Even fairly recently, brands felt it was sufficient to take a TV commercial, put it on YouTube, and consider video marketing as job done. Not anymore. There is increasing interaction with video in places outside YouTube, particularly with short form video on Twitter’s Vine channel, as well as even shorter form GIFs on Tumblr. Yes, there was quite a hue and cry when Facebook announced that they had more video views than YouTube of this year, with many people scoffing that it was because of auto-play, not because of a video watching revolution. But let’s not miss the trend. Facebook is now challenging YouTube as a video destination. And no doubt Facebook wants to attract the YouTube video celebrities that command such incredible follower interaction.

What Social Marketers Should Do in 2015

Look at how video can play in all your marketing channels. Face the fear is that video production is expensive and difficult, and look for more creative ways to produce content. Look at how HP solicited video stars to produce short-form Vine videos with great success. 

And so often, authentic trumps polished and professional – look at Fiat’s “endless fun” GIFs on Tumblr.

Content on social is about being conversational. About being the human face of a brand. And about being trustworthy and authentic. Particularly for B2B brands, content can help build the trust relationship that helps consumers believe you’re there to educate and inform before you’re there to sell.

Trend 5: The Social Splinternet Will Continue

Facebook is still the biggest, most dominant social game in town and the “lowest common denominator” of social marketing. But it’s not the only game. Social audiences will continue splintering. This social diversity represents a serious challenge for brand marketers – particularly for brands seeking the youth market – who are looking to find the right voice for their audiences in the right location. In 2015 the social imperative will remain to hit the right voice on the right social platform – which may not be Facebook at all.

What Social Marketers Should Do in 2015

Be informed about where your audiences spend time. Dig deeper into customization and personalization strategies on social channels that are working best for your audiences.

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