Published on January 30, 2014
TOP 10 Social Media Truths for 2014 604-273-0002 | firstname.lastname@example.org | www.prestigemarketing.ca
CONTENTS 03 Intro 05 1. Join the Social Media party 06 2. Social Media is a Conversation 07 3. Just be Normal 08 4. Your Audience are Themselves Creators 09 5. Press Play to View Your Forecast 10 6. Are You In M-commerce 12 7. Know Where to Focus 13 8. Good Content is Non-Negotiable 14 9. Community 15 10. It Takes Time 16 CONTACT US 2
INTRO As we prepare to start typing 2014 instead of 2013, let us consider the developments and big trends in social media over the last year, what will carry over or grow in the new year, what will fade, and what we are on the cusp of in advertising and social media culture. We need to know the brand story of our business, but also the cultural story that all of our businesses and consumers exist within. In our cultural story, social media has moved far beyond entertainment and connection to become a trusted source of news and influence. In “The Evolving Social Media Landscape,” Kristina Jonathan points out that “Twitter played a political role in championing public sentiment and offering a public platform to facilitate protest, eventually leading some countries to revolution” . Even in less extreme examples, we see the weight of social media’s authority: Olympic athletes would share their results in real-time with followers before television broadcasts were even caught up; hashtags are used to organize social media conversations about specific events, social causes or political figures; and pop culture news often breaks on Twitter before larger media outlets know. But can social media play as crucial a role in business? Social media can be an afterthought when it comes to running and building your business, especially when it seems more cost effective to spend funds on other things. Some may still hold a lingering sentiment that social media is more frivolous than it is business. Yet there is nothing frivolous about the importance of social media to business marketing at all: Gartner.com tells us that “the forecast for global social media revenue will be $29 billion by 2015” . In the last two years, the amount of time that consumers spend on social media has grown by 250% . Twitter has over 500 million active users, and beats Facebook in mobile ad revenue . Stats like these show us that we ought to take social media seriously because not only is it a big deal in our culture, it’s a big deal to our businesses. In fact, it generates business and is a business in itself. The forecast for global social media revenue will be $29 billion by 2015 Source: Gartner.com 3
If social media is not a significant part of your company’s brand presence, that is the first thing to change in 2014. Yet the major message I want to focus on in forecasting for social media in 2014 is this: there is much focus on what is new in social media trends and options for business, but at the foundation, there are truths or rules that stay true through any trend. One rule is to be real. Chapin Clark, the copywriting chief of the NYC ad agency, R/GA, tweets on behalf of the company and is known by his nearly 76,500 followers for his refreshingly sarcastic personality and wit, while staying relevant to the advertising field. When asked in a recent Adweek  interview, “Why not just dump the daily tweeting on to low-level staffers or agency PR flacks?” Clark responds, That question perfectly captures what’s wrong with a lot of corporate and brand accounts! […] If you were in a room speaking to an audience of thousands of people, you’d take that pretty seriously right? I don’t see how Twitter is all that different. If you’re going to bother having an account, I think it’s worth taking a bit of care to say something truly informative, or differentiated, or funny, or whatever. Whether it’s a junior person or a senior person, someone in PR or creative, whoever it is should be someone you trust to do a good job and give it some love.  Clark’s comment signals a deviation from authenticity and purpose that seems like it should be obvious. Perhaps businesses miss that social media is, at the most basic level, people speaking to people (before it is a company speaking to potential clients)? Anum Hussain reminds us that “the promise of social media was relationship” but we strayed. In agreement with Hussain’s “The Social Part of Social Media: A Love Story,” I will also be bringing it back to what social media is supposed to be about: relationship. sourceS: 1 http://trends.clickhere.com/the-evolving-social-media-landscape/ 2 http://www.gartner.com/id%3D1802617 3 http://mashable.com/2010/01/22/facebook-twitter-social-media-usage-stats/ 4 http://www.emarketer.com/Article/iPad-Use-Nearly-Double-This-Year/1009106 5 http://www.adweek.com/ 6 http://www.adweek.com/adfreak/meet-man-behind-worlds-best-ad-agency-twitter-feed-153141 4
1 Join the Social Media party The great thing about social media is that it truly is an open party where everyone is welcome, and being late is completely accepted. In the Digital Age, social media has proven to be an essential part of business and popular culture; a norm and necessity, rather than a passing trend. In 2013 Marketing Industry Report: How Marketers are Using Social Media to Grow Their Businesses , Michael A. Stelzner states that an overwhelming 97% of marketers use social media for their businesses. Many companies feel late to the party if they have no social media accounts, or accounts that are so sparse in interaction that they conclude maybe they are not meant for the social media party. But it is important to show up, and join in. To continue on with this analogy a little further, the great thing about social media is that it truly is an open party where everyone is welcome, and being late is completely accepted. In fact, most people just got there, and there are lots of people still to show. Stelzner’s numbers reveal that 53% of marketers started using social media in the last two years, and 75% of marketers have only been active in the last three years, so while social media has been around for almost a decade, it is relatively new in the business arena. Kristina Witmer quotes a CEO.com report that “68% of Fortune 500 CEO’s have NO online social presence” , so the party is still young. 97 % of marketers use social media for their businesses 53 75 68 % % of marketers have been using social media in the last of marketers have been active in the last 2 years 3 years % of Fortune 500 CEO’s have NO online social presence sourceS: 1 http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/social-media-marketing-industry-report-2013/ 2 https://smcdallas.org/2013/09/03/trends-social-media/ 5
2 Social Media is a Conversation It is important to know your brand voice before you start talking, or you’ll either sound like someone with no personality or a confused one. Most simply, social media is a conversation, and it holds true that there is an art to being a good conversationalist. The quickest way to gauge how your conversation with peers and customers are going is to look at your social media dialogue. Are you talking at people and bombarding them with posts that go without response? Is anyone interested in replying to or sharing the content you are putting out there? If you start a conversation, do you know how to keep it going? Do you have a purpose for talking or are you talking just for the sake of it? It is important to know your brand voice before you start talking, or you’ll either sound like someone with no personality or a confused one. Experts emphasize over and over again that it is about presence over merely being present. If you didn’t work where you did, would you be interested in looking at your company’s social media account on your off-time? Would you give it a second glance or at least appreciate that it’s cleverly done? In other words, ask yourself (and others) if you would want to talk to yourself at an industry party. Infographic: http://www.prestigemarketing.ca/blog/introducing-the-facebook-hashtag-infographic/ 6
3 Just be Normal Carrying yourself like a normal person will build your relationship with customers better than going hashtag crazy or tweeting every hour on the hour. Of course, you need to be original and interesting to stand out in the social media party, but to quote Nermin Hadzikadunic, the owner of Prestige Marketing (and my boss), it’s also important to “just be normal.” As technology and social media trends propel forward at real-time speed, remember that there are core truths about communication, interactions and relationships that remain true no matter how groundbreaking and culture-changing a social media platform may be. Have good manners: welcome new followers, listen to comments, and respond to questions and complaints. Carrying yourself like a normal person will build your relationship with customers better than going hashtag crazy or tweeting every hour on the hour (thanks for demonstrating that being overly ontrend  can be ridiculous, Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon). And then again, sometimes being normal can also mean being weird. People are quirky, and it’s that relatable personality that can give your business the voice of a real, normally weird person, instead of the bland robotic voice of automated and impersonal tweets. If it is appropriate to your business and brand, social media is a great way to express humour, wit, sarcasm, or playfulness…all the human characteristics that can make your business likable and memorable. http://www.prestigemarketing.ca/blog/is-social-media-killing-your-brand-infographic/ sourceS: 1 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=57dzaMaouXA 7
4 Your Audience are Themselves Creators Anyone active in social media is essentially curating their own personal brand: as people post Instagram videos, tweets, pin your images to their boards, and vlog on their Youtube channels, “they” become “we.” As social media keeps developing and growing, so does the sophistication and expectations of consumers, because as we can see, consumers are also all producers of content. The Internet and social media allows for everyone to be reviewers, critics, blog authors, commenters and legitimate voices. We as businesses are no longer the only brands. Anyone active in social media is essentially curating their own personal brand: as people post Instagram videos, tweets, pin your images to their boards, and vlog on their Youtube channels, “they” become “we.” This shift means that we need to relate to our audience with the recognition that they have a keen sense of brand awareness. This requires a higher level of thoughtfulness and creativity on businesses’ end, which is a good thing; because when we do our end well, our audience has every means of spreading their positive response. http://www.prestigemarketing.ca/blog/the-reddit-marketing-field-guide-infographic/ 8
5 Press Play to View Your Forecast While we’re talking about how to incorporate the things that do not change into your social media practices, there are developments in social media that we need to pay attention to as they signal the direction of the coming season. In 2013, one of the major markers of social media history was the introduction of Instagram video. The immense response to this reveals a readiness and eagerness in consumers for the video format to play a larger part in how they experience social media. Major websites like www.nytimes.com and www.cnn. com include video content along with images and copy. We also see that brands are turning to video campaigns (Charlotte Ronson , Free People , Intel & Toshiba ), or companies and publications utilizing Youtube channels to grow their audience interactions (Vogue , Nylon Magazine ). There are also corporate sponsors that fund video series from popular Youtube channels (AT&T sponsored a Youtube series  from Wongfu Productions, as long as the shorts showed their products, such as the HTC One X or the Nokia Lumia). Youtube has changed from a medium of personal and amateur videos to professional channels with millions of followers that allow for people to make complete careers on creating relatable video content. http://www.prestigemarketing.ca/blog/your-video-marketing-handbook-infographic/ sourceS: 1 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RgURWZvXrJU 2 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1S4NWYDlSrY 3 http://www.thebeautyinsidefilm.com/ 4 https://www.youtube.com/user/Americanvogue 5 https://www.youtube.com/user/NylonMagazineTV 6 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gn7UtPxcg3w&list=PLCFB1AEEE89E7D285 9
6 Are You In M-commerce M-commerce stands for mobile commerce. In “10 Digital Trends of 2013: Are You Ready?”, Dr. Angela Hausmann draws our attention to the fact that more and more, companies need to develop apps for smart phones, as we see that companies who are most current have created a connection with consumers via their smart phones. Obviously, not every business or company offers the type of service that would require an app, but then again, there is always a creative way to make oneself relevant. An example of a big player in M-commerce would be Starbucks, whose app allows customers to pay for coffee by scanning their phone, and save up transaction points for rewards. The appeal is that the app is synced to your credit card and/or gift cards, so it’s easy to reload, and makes payment more efficient than using cash or card as you don’t even have to take out your wallet. http://www.prestigemarketing.ca/blog/retargeting-for-mobile-advertising-infographic/ 10
6 Hausmann writes, “As an example of the power of mobile, 45% of Groupon’s sales occur on mobile devices including smartphones and tablets” . We scan coupons, enter contests on Instagram, comment on Youtube videos for giveaway prizes, and see a growing trend in companies requiring fans to like and interact with their social media accounts to enter contests. To have presence on the one item that everyone uses most consistently on a daily basis is a smart direction that we will see cemented in 2014. http://www.prestigemarketing.ca/blog/holiday-shopping-gone-mobile-infographic/ sourceS: 1 http://socialmediatoday.com/marketingletter/1518801/10-digital-trends-2013-are-you-ready 11
7 Know Where to Focus As the importance of social media ramps up, more and more platforms are becoming available. Yet there are clear platforms to use to focus and grow your business. We obviously need to be strategic with our limited time and resources, so it is important to choose our social media medium thoughtfully. Facebook continues to be the preferred platform , as 49% of marketers voted it as the one platform they would choose if they could only use one social network. Yet where we are going is consistent with #5, as Youtube will become a clear pillar of online marketing and social media influence in this coming year. If you want to move at the front of the pack, you need to consider video content, as that is the medium that has the most draw currently, and only looks to grow in 2014. Also, what businesses are all shoring up and educating themselves on is blogging. Stelzner reports  that more than Google +, Facebook, Youtube and Twitter, marketers are prioritizing blogging and are most keen to learn how to strengthen their blog content. If your business is looking to develop the blog on your website, appoint or hire someone who has a strong point of view and a longterm vision for the purpose of your blog. Have vision for what you do in social media. http://www.prestigemarketing.ca/blog/your-video-marketing-handbook-infographic/ sourceS: 1 http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/social-media-marketing-industry-report-2013/ 2 https://smcdallas.org/2013/09/03/trends-social-media/ 12
8 Good Content is Non-Negotiable Site content has to speak in a brand voice that people want to hear, about a product or service that people should want to use. Nothing beats this. Yes, Lee Clow says that “The Brand is the Product,” and I believe this is true, but only when your product is already solid (in Clow’s case, he is the creative mind behind the first Apple campaign that didn’t showcase the product…so when your product is Apple, yes it’s safe to say you can push the brand). Let me suggest that a business’s content is two-part; that it is both product and brand. Who we are as a business is both A) what we do (service or product) and B) who we are. A strong brand cannot carry a subpar product, and a strong product cannot create long-term brand loyalty and emotional connection on its own without the help of a brand with a clear point of view and persona. As consumers have an ever-increasing number of choices, the standards on content pushes businesses to operate at a level beyond professional copy on a website. Site content has to speak in a brand voice that people want to hear, about a product or service that people should want to use. Perhaps this is obvious, but it is still a truth that we can be intentional about. http://www.prestigemarketing.ca/blog/top-5-online-marketing-mistakes-infographic/ 13
9 Community People participate in social media to have access to the experience of community. To disprove the argument that technology and contemporary culture has made our behavior more isolated, we see within social media that one of the strengths or draws is community. Google Circles, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, and of course Facebook all foster community and conversation, or at the very least: access. We are not present to be present, or because everyone else is. We are in the industry because we have something to offer, and we’re on social media to connect with people and hopefully to connect them to what we offer. Consumers’ willingness to partake in the social media community shows that the content we create and consume is always with others in mind. Nobody uses Twitter to make comments without expectation of retweets or favourites; nobody posts on Instagram or Facebook without hope of likes, nobody posts on Youtube without wanting viewership. People participate in social media to have access to the experience of community. Take advantage of the features on social media that allows for specialized groups, lists, and topic-focused conversations. Be present in the places where your natural audience is already congregated. 14
10 It Takes Time Pick one platform and do it well, or seriously plan to allocate the money to spend on someone who loves social media and wants to make a place for your business at the party. Perhaps it’s counterintuitive because our experience of social media is so immediate due to the real-time nature of the platforms, but if we do see social media as a means through which we grow relationship between our business and consumers, then the old adage holds true that relationships takes time. If you want to be excellent in your business’s use of social media (and really, why do anything at all if you’re not going to do it well), then you have to treat it like a relationship. You have to invest time, because to create genuine and thoughtful content that doesn’t sound like impersonal auto-posts, you need to allow the person or team in charge of your social media the time it takes to be creative. When you post things just for the sake of having a Twitter account, people can tell, I guarantee you. Good work and good content takes time, because you have to allow for things like strategy, storyboarding and industry research. Ultimately, good branding takes time, because everything you post is building your brand experience. If you can only afford to pay for so many hours of social media work, you can’t try to do everything. Pick one platform and do it well, or seriously plan to allocate the money to spend on someone who loves social media and wants to make a place for your business at the party. You don’t want to miss out; this is truly a party worth being at. 15
About the Author Echo Quan is a Content Writer and Social Media Specialist at Prestige Marketing in Vancouver, Canada. She is a popular culture enthusiast who has a passion for story, good branding, and how words work. Echo believes words should always be genuine and create conversation, relationship and connection; and that this philosophy is vital to marketing and social media. Her official brain training is in English Literature, and she studied at Capilano University, Simon Fraser University, and the University of Calgary (she has an addictive personality). Besides school, Echo is also addicted to music, blogs, and all the social media platforms she both works and plays on. Prestige Marketing Prestige is a digital marketing firm that helps companies get noticed online. Prestige makes traffic a very good thing: one thing every local knows well is what traffic patterns are like; and as a local company, we know how to get your site online traffic through SEO analysis and strategy. We also offer affiliate marketing management, pay-per-click advertising, media buying and offline marketing services. We love connecting with and building up local businesses - we believe in playing by strengths, and since what you know is always your strength, we know our city and its leaders and its audience and its online landscape. We want to use our knowledge to strengthen local companies, starting with Vancouver and Toronto (where our two offices are located), as well as national and international ones. We provide expert strategy and solutions for companies targeting local or international customers. For more information about Prestige Marketing and our services, please contact: TEL: 604.273.0002 Email: email@example.com 16
Free White Paper to Top 10 Social Media Truths For 2014. 10 social media rules that stay true through any trend in online marketing.
10 social media rules that stay true through any trend in online marketing.
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