Businesses have largely accepted the fact that social media sites are an integral part of an overall online marketing strategy. Anyone who tracks analytical data can see the impact that social media is having on lead generation, referral traffic and revenue. Here are 8 social media trends we’re expecting to take wing in 2014.

social media trends 2014

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1. Google + gains social status.

Google + may not have as much social media clout as Facebook and Twitter, but experts across the board are predicting a rise to fame in 2014. Google now requires YouTube users to have a Google+ account in order to comment. New changes to Google Hangouts and picture sharing features are likely to turn more heads in 2014. Recently, they announced that they have more than 300 million active monthly users. Brand ambassadors say they like the visual layout of Google +. Also, in case you haven’t noticed, Google tends to give content a bump up if it’s listed in a Google+ newsfeed. It’s time to expand your social footprint to include Google+ if you haven’t already.

2. SoLoMo.

This new abbreviation stands for “SOcial, LOcal, MObile.” In short, this means that people are on their smartphones lo0king up local info on social media channels. According to the Adobe 2013 Mobile Con­sumer Sur­vey, there are three types of SoLoMo users: The Thinkers (people who are thinking about a purchase and haven’t started their research, but remain open to social suggestions); The Questers (people who research their purchase, share items socially and seek feedback from others); and The Leapers (people who are impulsive enough to buy immediately when they see something of interest on social sites.) Be sure you know how to appeal to these different groups and that your site is optimized for Facebook and Twitter apps at the very least.

paid search

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3. Social’s “free lunch” shrinks.

It will always be free to create a social media profile, but it won’t necessarily remain free for businesses to reach users. “Pay to play” is growing in popularity as brands shift a bigger portion of their budgets online. Facebook has openly admitted their organic page reach is declining. Since they went public last year, Facebook’s investors have been clamoring for a return on their investment. Twitter rolled out their own paid ads and even Pinterest now allows businesses to “sponsor” pins. Take some time to get educated on the opportunities of paid social so you don’t get left in the dust by your competitors.

4. Community management becomes more important.

You can’t simply put up a social media page with updates and call it a day. You need to cultivate a community of social media insiders — people who feel comfortable interacting with your brand regularly. Invite feedback, respond to every query, and offer special deals for your top contributors. Word-of-mouth advertising is still a very powerful force in social media that leads to real sales. If you don’t have time to develop a strategy and track what’s going in your communities, hire someone who does.

5. Encouraging user-generated content will gain exposure for brands.

Urban Oufitters encourages users to take “selfies” in their clothing and post them to Instagram with the hashtag #UOonYou. The company picks the best photos to include in a gallery, along with links on “where to buy the look.” Similarly, Ben & Jerry’s ran a campaign with the hashtag #Capture Euphoria that asked fans to submit photos of themselves enjoying the product, which could be featured in a future ice cream ad displayed in the winners’ hometowns. User-generated content is a simple and effective way to measure engagement, so brainstorm a campaign for 2014.

Ben & Jerry Ad


6. Images continue to be essential.

With the rise of sites like Instagram, Pinterest and Buzzfeed, images are an essential part of a social media marketer’s toolbox. People like status updates with funny memes, thought-provoking pictures and visually captivating content. No matter what you’re writing, consider how a good image might complement that post.

7. Micro-video picks up steam.

Attention spans are shorter these days. Writing 140 characters and producing 3-minute videos were “so last year!” This year, apps like Twitter’s Vine and Instagram’s video sharing feature have brought 6 to 15 second videos to the forefront of social media. Consider this: 89% percent of people between the ages of 18 and 34 watch online video content once a week. Contemplate how quick, catchy viral videos can turbocharge your social media strategy in 2014. Delegate this task!

8. Planning will be a necessary evil.

Brands that have skated by thus so far — posting infrequently and putting up whatever strikes their fancy — will find that it’s impossible to build a solid foundation this way. The most successful social media sites post on a regular schedule at high traffic times. They have certain themes they follow in their posts — perhaps it’s Sweepstakes Saturday or an inspirational quote every Monday. In 2014, make it a point to sit down with a brand consultant to toss around different ideas for direction. Also, consider incorporating tools like HootSuite to advance-schedule your posts so they go out on time, without wasting your time!

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