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2014 Social Media Marketing Predictions

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2013 saw some big changes in social media marketing. Visual marketing played a huge part in social media marketing, along with monetization for major platforms. You might be wondering what lies ahead for 2014. Here are some predictions from experts in the social media marketing field.

#1) A New Strategy for Facebook

Using Facebook for your social media marketing will have a different focus in 2014. You will no longer spam the news feed. Instead, social media marketers will have to focus on the following:

-Useful content in the news feed: You will need to publish content that focuses on useful and interesting ideas. By listening to your fan base, you will understand what your content needs to be about.

-Integrate other marketing channels: Things like email, events and other social media platforms can be used to entice customers to share branded content. Word of mouth begins with real fans telling their friends on social media, so making use of this technique is key.

-Start a blog: If you want to drive traffic to your website through Facebook, publishing useful content on a blog is a great way to do this.

-John Haydon, founder of Inbound Zombie and author of Facebook Marketing for Dummies.

#2) The Return of Paid Advertising and Sponsorship

Advertising and sponsorship will have the biggest impact on social media marketing in the year ahead. Long gone are the days of social media being free for marketing companies. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest all are in full "money charging mode" now and companies looking to market to their customers using these social media platforms will have to pay to do so.

The implications are significant for users of social media:

-How will it change the face of the existing platforms?

-How will this affect authenticity?

-How big will marketing budgets get?

-Will the future be more "social" or more "media"?

-Jay Baer, founder of the award-winning blog Convince & Convert, co-author of The Now Revolution and author of Youtility: Why Smart Marketing Is About Help Not Hype.

#3) A Shift in Storytelling

Companies struggle to find a way to fuse their current marketing strategies with the ever-changing demands of real-time, mobile and customer engagement. In the past, adjusting the marketing while leaving the organization unchanged was the go-to strategy.

These days, companies need to ensure that what they are saying about themselves through their social media marketing is indeed true. This will give rise to the concept of coherent social storytelling. This will allow brands to shift their focus to their story, rather than the "telling" part of it. Doing this will build relationships, rather than just driving transactions. Using the true power of social media, you can inspire customers to be a part of building the business with you through shared values and engagement.

-Simon Mainwaring, founder and chief creative officer at We First Inc. and author of We First: How Brands and Consumers Use Social Media to Build a Better World.

#4) Pay to Play

Social networks are becoming more and more accountable to public shareholders. Businesses will rely on the more traditional model that requires marketers to "pay to play". This will impact the benefits of organic social media marketing. Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn will slowly provide special features only to customers who pay. This reduces the benefits of organic activity, making it necessary for social media marketers to understand the paid side of social. Ignoring paid social media will mean you are falling short of your competitors.

-Michael Stelzner, founder and CEO of Social Media Examiner, founder of My Kids’ Adventures and author of Launch and Writing White Papers.

#5) Employee Advocacy

Using employees as advocates for social media marketing could possibly become the next strategic move for more and more companies. Employees usually have strong ties to the company they work for. These employees could potentially become brand advocates on social media. Every single individual employee has their own influence and social network, so employees can help share the company's social media message. This could reach a broader audience than ever before.

To put it simply, if your marketing team consists of 10 employees, your social media messages could be shared by your corporate account. But if your employees shared the message via their personal social media platforms, your message would be shared by 10 more people.

-Neal Schaffer, author of Maximizing LinkedIn for Sales and Social Media Marketing and Maximize Your Social: A One-Stop Guide to Building a Social Media Strategy for Marketing and Business Success.

#6) Interactive Video

Today we observe videos. But the technology exists to "tag" based on audio content and also recognize faces and objects. Imagine being able to search the web and get the exact part of the video that answers your question or solves a problem. Instead of watching the entire video, you can just find what you need. Being able to add a comment or even content to a video while you are watching it could be a possibility as well.

-Mark Schaefer is a college educator, blogger, speaker and consultant who is the author of three best-selling books including Return On Influence.

#7) Using the A/B Testing Tools

Gone are the days where A/B testing tools will only be used by big companies. There will be an increase in the quality of content distributed across the multiple social media channels once A/B testing tools are in place. Utilizing A/B testing tools for social media can produce and increase in impressions, website visits and engagement and this leads to sales. Social media marketing is different than the traditional email and website testing because these sites are only "rented property". Since there is less control over who sees social updates, it can prove to be difficult to incorporate science into your content you are sharing. The best way to do this type of testing is to pay for advertising.

-Nick Robinson, social media channel manager for SAP Americas and co-author of StumbleUpon for Dummies.

#8) Fusion Marketing

While fusion marketing is not necessarily a new concept, it is the way of the future. The ability to bring together traditional marketing with digital marketing tools and social media will become even more necessary in the near future. Fusion marketing dashboards are currently being developed and will be available soon. A low price and easy-to-use fusion marketing dashboard will allow you to create, launch and manage your marketing campaign from various media channels all in one place.

-Viveka von Rosen, founder of Linked Into Business and author of LinkedIn Marketing: An Hour a Day.

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