Five daring predictions for social marketing in 2014

#1. Brands will get braver on social, but will they be ready when it’s too much?

Content is king in 2014 and to break through the noise and reach “uber engagement” brands will become more daring. But, what is the right level of “edge” before brands hit a “Miley Cyrus Wrecking Ball” moment?

Taco Bell had to do some fancy footwork this year to deal with the photo of an employee licking taco shells on the brand’s Facebook page. And American Apparel must certainly regret their email campaign touting a Hurricane Sandy Sale. And, yet, in spite of these blunders, brands will continue to work harder to pioneer buzz-creating, edgy campaigns. In 2014, we can expect brands to go even more off-script and off-color in order to create content that is deemed “share-worthy” among the growing legion of youth on social media. However, one thing that will remain constant: the questions “how far is ‘far enough?’” and “how far is ‘too far?’’

#2. Fragmentation forces brands to make tough social platform choices

Facebook’s recent acknowledgment that there was a decrease in daily usage among ‘younger teens’ drove home the realization that teens are now congregating on places like Instagram, SnapChat, Tumblr, and Twitter. More significantly, consumer “fragmentation” among various social platforms is happening across all demographics.

While Facebook isn’t going anywhere, brands have more choices to direct their marketing efforts and spend on the platforms that reflect their particular “zeitgeist.” For instance, highly visual brands will double down on the visual-focused channels of Instagram and Pinterest, while B2B brands that sell knowledge, experience and insight will inevitably lean toward LinkedIn. In 2014, pragmatism and measurable ROI will win out over the desire to be omnipresent.

#3. 2014: the year that brands will finally “get” LinkedIn

In 2014, brand marketers will come to realize LinkedIn’s unparalleled treasure trove of targeting data. We should expect to see brands, en masse, shift marketing dollars towards the platform in increasingly creative ways; not only through display advertising, but by drafting off of the massive content marketing opportunities the LinkedIn platform offers. In parallel, LinkedIn, aswell as partners developing on the LinkedIn API, will expand capabilities, delivering more opportunities for brand marketers to personalize content and messaging by professional profile.

#4. Moving on from “just” building a native brand app

For some time now, brands have responded to mobile behavior trends by building native apps for iOS and Android. But, they’ve learned the hard way that the challenges of getting a native mobile app found on app stores, used regularly, and kept up to date, are profound.

In 2014, marketers will correct course. In place of developing mobile apps, many brands will embrace the diverse mobile ad products offered on social platforms. These include Facebook’s sponsored posts in the mobile newsfeed, Instagram’s sponsored brand photos as well as Vine’s and Instagram’s sponsored mobile-friendly short form videos. Twitter will undoubtedly respond to the pressing need of marketers by adding more divergent mobile sponsored products. We may also expect to see micro-second ‘thumb time’ ads on SnapChat.

#5. The corporate website will be redefined

In 2014, we’ll see more brands rethinking their ‘digital home’ — their corporate Website. Coca-Cola is the most recent high profile company to do so, which recently declared “content is king, and the corporate website is dead. ”

We’ll see more brands in 2014 turning in this direction. Consumers have become used to thesocial, conversational way of interacting on digital and brands need to mirror this behavior on their corporate websites. “Old style” corporate websites have historically been awful at fostering interaction and conversations; additionally, brands have struggled to organize a coherent storytelling message from the patchwork of social presences they are forced to manage. The “social Web site” alleviates some of these problems. Getting the corporate website infused with social ‘mojo’ and weaving together those social interactions and stories there will be a truly positive move for brands in 2014.

Roger Katz is the CEO and founder of Friend2Friend, a Facebook Preferred Marketing Developer that works with global brands and media agencies. Launched in 2007, Friend2Friend works with over 100 global brands through its offices in San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, and Barcelona, Spain. 

Top image courtesy of Shutterstock.