2014 Trend Prediction #3: Social Media Bringing Basics Back
Since the late 2000s, the social media landscape has quickly escalated. A surge of social companies emerged promising the latest and greatest in social capabilities – new audiences, hip photo filters, new ways to communicate, quick videos and more. While it’s been both entertaining and challenging as a communication professional to adapt to these new channels and make sure that they authentically fit into a brand’s/company’s PR plan, 2014 is prepared to offer something different – the basics. 2013 helped solidify the Fantastic Five – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube – as the essentials for any successful social media plan. While not all channels are mandatory for brands, 2013 helped shed light on which channels are better suited for specific verticals. Weddings and events, head to Pinterest. Fashion, head to Instagram. Food and quick cocktail recipes, head to YouTube. Instead of looking to the newest flashy channel as a promotional tool, PR and communications professionals should take a step back, evaluate what your client’s needs are in terms of long-term fans and goals, and select a curated mix of social channels that work best for them. This upcoming year will really reveal how brands are being successful with these five standbys and what innovative concepts, contests and conversation starters brands can come up with.
What this doesn’t mean? It doesn’t mean that brands will have it easier than before, if anything, creating engaging and unique social plans will become more of a challenge. Before, brands could pick and choose, test channels out and abandon ship if it didn’t work. Now, communications specialist will be faced with the challenge of creating something genuine for their brand that speaks and performs well across platforms. They’ll be challenged with informing clients what channels will work and why sometimes less is better than more. They’ll be challenged to really learn, observe and own these five channels. Sure, we had to do this before, but with fewer resources, we’re challenging ourselves to think of what opportunities will work and what wont on an entirely different level.
Back to the basics doesn’t mean a lack of creativity either. It means the Fantastic Five will kick it up even another notch. 2014 is going to be the year of that classic social media offering, “video,” and social companies know it. With the launch of Instagram’s video capabilities and YouTube acting as a powerhouse for content, with 100 hours of video uploaded every hour, it’s safe to say we’re a generation that demands quick and visual experiences. In 2013, companies began exploring just what that means, but in 2014 they’ll begin to fully understand how to make videos work. Chefs will create engaging monthly two-minute food demos with the click of an iPhone button, fashion bloggers can show splashy 15-second videos featuring thesssir favorite weekly outfits, colleges will set up Instagram channels for the various dorms welcoming students and offering tips for the campus, and so much more. Now that Instagram has private photo and video messaging, brands can even offer exclusive content to their top followers, such as a chance for the selected followers to win an item, feature a not-on-the-self product, etc.
Innovation doesn’t stop there. Social companies that will have something to offer in 2014 are those that can create add-ons or altered experiences for these five platforms. LiketoKnow.it just launched on Instagram, allowing fans to shop their favorite Instagram looks, which is ideal for exploding Instagram fashion community. Bloggers and users have to be connected to the service, but several have rolled out their announcements that their offering the service within the past couple of weeks. Once you register on the site, login and like Instagram photos to get an email with all of the shopping details. Did that fashion blogger just wear a pair of shoes you’re dying to have? Give them a like and get the info!
We’re positive that several more channel functionalities and options will pop-up within the year, but we’re interested to see how brands adapt to this basic approach. What channels will they select to own and make an outstanding resource for their customers? How will video become even more integrated into both social and media outreach? How will add-on offers change or alter how a channel is used? One thing is for sure, 2014 will be a creative year for social media.
We’re really looking forward to 2014 in terms of what it means for social and hope you are to!
Stephanie Poquette Senior Publicist