Social Predictions for 2014

Social media has been on a roll, and the majority of marketers will increase their social media budgets this year (source: Webmarketing123). The challenge in planning for a year ahead in social, however, is that the channel is rarely, if ever, predictable.

In 2013, for example, brands experimented with new content formats and social selling strategies. Conversely, emerging social networks like Pinterest started honing in on ways to monetize their efforts. In order for brands to succeed in 2014, we've asked a few social executives to shed light on what trends they believe the New Year may have in store. 

"2014 will be the year when social media truly becomes integrated into the full marketing mix."

- Bill Piwonka, VP of Marketing at Janrain 
"While social media has been considered a part of the media mix for some time, most brands have had distinct strategies for their Facebook, Google+, Twitter, etc. presence, while rarely considering how to leverage the behavioral, demographic and psychographic data available from their customer's activity on these networks into their overarching marketing strategy. In 2014, we'll see brands using this information to both improve interactions on the individual networks, and personalize the experiences across sites and devices for their customers."

"A picture will be worth 10,000 words."

- Mike Volpe CMO at HubSpot
"People used to think of Pinterest, YouTube and Instagram as outlets for visual content, but with updates to Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, every social channel now prioritizes photos and images, and organizations that ignore this trend do so at their peril. Being successful on social media with imagery doesn't require a massive creative spend; it mandates a clear understanding of the types of content your audience wants and an understanding that bite-sized content will win the day for attention spans and engagement, especially on Twitter."

"2014 will be the year social data will truly enter mainstream marketing and business operations."

- Richard Pasewark, CEO of Visible Technologies
"Social media will come full circle as marketing will take over the responsibilities of managing more interactive and dynamic customer communication over social channels - including sales, support and service initiatives. In addition, international growth of social intelligence and engagement will greatly accelerate and become the norm in developing markets, where consumers are often mobile savvy and use crowdsourcing for recommendations."

"Shareable and visual content will play an increasingly important role in a small business's marketing strategy."

- Mark Schmulen, General Manager of Social Media at Constant Contact
"Small business will increase their adoption of visual-based social networks like Pinterest, You- Tube, Instagram, Tumblr and Slideshare. A powerful image or video will carry much more weight across social networks with small businesses creating more visually inspired marketing campaigns with fewer words."

"We expect to see social commerce grow by leaps and bounds in 2014, due in large part to deeper integration between retailers."

-Jesse Ness, Senior Marketing Manager at Ecwid "For example, Pinterest just announced that several major ecommerce websites will now greet visitors by showing their most pinned items from the social networking site. As retailers and social networks become more interconnected, the result will be more purchases made based on peer influence - whether directly on an ecommerce site or on the social network site itself. We also expect to see new approaches to social selling. Social networks are still trying to figure out how to monetize their user base. Some form of social commerce could be the answer; however, no network has fully succeeded in cracking the social commerce code yet. So there will be lots of experimentation in this space in 2014. The merchants that benefit most will be those whose technology can adapt to this deeper integration and interconnection, and manage multiple online venues as a single entity."

About the Author: Allison Howen is an Associate Editor at Website Magazine.