It's the most wonderful time of the year. My kids are excited about the presents to come from Santa. The snow is falling outside my home in New York as I write this, and it isn't even dirty city snow and slush yet. And what would December be without predictions for the coming year?
Here are my five predictions for social media in 2014, and what they mean for your business:
1. Pay to play
Facebook has changed its news feed algorithm in a way that hurts organic reach. Twitter is a public company that must drive revenues. Google+ has introduced ads. LinkedIn has promoted updates. Getting consumers' attention in social media is becoming increasingly difficult. In 2014, we will see increased pressures on companies of all sizes to pay to sponsor their posts to get more visibility. This will be hardest on small businesses, which obviously have fewer resources for marketing than big brands. It means you'll have to be prepared to not only create great content for social media, but also perhaps pay the social networks to promote that content.
2. The rise of Twitter
In the past three years, as far as social media is concerned, it's been a Facebook world. Sure, many other important platforms have emerged, but topping 1.2 billion users, Facebook has been the largest internet platform since Google. I've watched Twitter grow enormously over the past year--and saw it go from a platform used mostly by marketers, media and celebrities to a platform used by "real people." My mom, for instance, and my daughter, and the parents of my daughter's classmates. With its recent initial public offerng and stock performance out of the gate, look for Twitter to continue to become truly mainstream in 2014 and become the next billion-user platform. This means if you and your company don't have a good presence on Twitter yet, you can no longer afford to wait.
3. News feeds actually delivering news
LinkedIn, through its Influencers and Pulse platforms and its algorithm, has made a good news product. I get all of my business news and insights through my LinkedIn feed now. Facebook has recently changed its Edge Rank algorithm to benefit traditional publishers. In 2014, we'll see Twitter and Google+ do this as well, as increasingly our feeds deliver news to us apart from updates from our friends and family. This is great if you're a publisher, and if not, it means you must think think like a publisher, no matter what business you're in.
4. Erasable media
Everybody wants to buy Snapchat, and eventually, more and more grownups will begin to actually use it. With sharing consistently increasing, as Mark Zuckerberg correctly predicted, and privacy an increased concern, as he didn't correctly predict, 2014 will see a rise in disappearing, erasable media. In addition to Snapchat, you'll see existing social networks begin to offer media that is even shorter lived than the content currently in our feeds. This means that you'll have to prepared to have the results of your hard work in content marketing literally vanish.
5. Content from everywhere
Individuals aren't the only ones increasingly creating and sharing content on the social web. Now, businesses of all shapes and sizes are are following suit. Two years ago, CEO's would tell me, "I don't need to be using social media because I do. . . ." Now, even in manufacturing, business-to-business fields, and all sorts of industries, leaders have realized that social media and content marketing are table stakes.
If you think the social web is noisy now, in 2014 you'll see more content than ever before. This means you and your business need to create better, more fun, and more valuable content in order to be noticed and to truly benefit from social media.
What are your predictions for social media in 2014? Let us know in the Comments section below.