1. Content will be king
This trend will continue, simply because social media and mobile devices have enabled the growth in material available for consumption. Content can position a company or brand like nothing else, and it can drive prospects to points in the pipeline closer to becoming a customer. And creating content and leveraging it online through social media is largely low cost compared to traditional forms of advertising.
2. Visuals for short attention spans
Be it photos, video or infographics, visuals communicate a subject in a timely and simplified manner. Just look to the explosion of Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, Youtube and Vine. Visuals are also the perfect antidote for a perpetually time starved society. But the scientific reality is this: it’s human nature to respond quickly to images. Expect visuals to rule in 2015.
3. As Facebook matures – pay up or flee
The reach of Facebook Pages dramatically decreased in 2014, and we have now entered the era of “pay to play” on this platform. It’s really just the maturing of a media channel. Facebook is in the business of making money for shareholders. That said, Facebook likely has the broadest demographic and geographic coverage of any social platform, and if the selection of criteria to boost posts is done well, it can be viable for some businesses. But you’ll pay for it. Look for this trend to continue, at least for enhanced services, as social platforms mature.
4. Online communities and membership for exclusive content will grow
Niche communities already exist from the mundane to the obscure. Communities within blogs and subscribers to an e-newsletter or a course will be of great value to the business that hosts them, as well as participants. Expect to see more companies harness and leverage the communities they host through owned assets such as blogs, podcasts and e-newsletters. This will become especially important and as the reality of paying for access on social platforms becomes more accepted when platforms mature.
5. Privacy concerns will remain high
In the age of social media, we’ve been conditioned to accept that the trading of personal information is the price to pay for free access. It still doesn’t mean we’re happy about it. And as more and more social platforms monetize the ability to broadcast, we will become even more guarded about having shared our information. Canadian Can-Spam legislation in response to email spammers was an attempt in 2014 to legislate. Expect more backlash in 2015 over privacy, and the possible growth of platforms such as Ello, that boast they will not collect or sell personal information – ever. Bottom line? Practice good ethics when it comes to privacy in 2015.
6. Leveraging influencers and brand ambassadors will be critical
Influencers and brand ambassadors are the folks online with tremendous klout within the circles that your customers travel. Having a third party endorse you has always been better than shouting from your own soapbox, but in the age of social media it carries even more weight within such a cluttered content space.
7. Think Mobile everything
Content is now consumed through the mobile internet and apps at a staggering pace. You need to consider that in planning your “real time” and “right time” marketing efforts in 2015. Think not only what should be put out, but when, and in which format.
8. Social listening will be key
Social listening involves monitoring and responding to conversations online, be it through websites, blogs, and social media or using hashtags to monitor channels of content. It could also mean monitoring competitors so a ready response can be made in a time of opportunity. Social listening means you are marketing in real time. Companies who get ahead of this curve will be served well in 2015.
9. #Hashtag your channel will be like claiming your URL
In 2015 brands that own hashtags will build community. Hashtags are a branding tool that cross all platforms and create a channel for those who tune in to see what is happening in their area of interest. In 2015 you want to dominate your chosen channels by consistently picking several hashtags that appear in all your online content.
10. Use digital to amplify an analogue message
And finally, 2015 could be a year to stand out by tapping an analogue approach. The Ikea “book book” and Lululemon “give presence” 2014 campaigns stood out simply because they poked fun in a clever way at how dependent we have become on technology. These spots reflected a simpler time – when we actually read books, or put down our devices and spoke to people. They each illustrated our collective craving to occasionally escape this crazy digital world we have created for ourselves. That sentiment might we well worth remembering as an insight for 2015.
Mary Charleson, MBA is a marketing educator, speaker and writer. For more marketing insights, check out her blog: www.fiveminutemarketing.com follow her on Twitter, or sign up for her weekly e-newsletter at www.charleson.ca