1. Google+ moving into your social media life.
As a social media data layer, Google+ is directly tied into Google’s plethora of apps. What does this mean for you? Anytime you search, watch YouTube, or watch TV on Play, Google collects user data from the activity and makes use of it across all of its platforms. So don’t be surprised if you see a Game of Thrones ad on Google+ after you watch season 3 on Google Play. Google+ as a social media page has been struggling since its inception in 2011 due to its Facebook-like news feed and other seemingly duplicate Facebook functions. But over the past year, Google+ has become a hotbed of techies interacting on an unprecedented level as well as a platform for face-to-face brand interactions (see Google+ post below). This year will see a significant growth in Google+ active users as people become more curious about the tech-giant’s social media chops.
2. Facebook losing its dominance.
With the NSA’s prying eyes, phishing scams, and Facebook’s changing privacy policies, social media users are becoming very wary of what they share online. Innocent photo sharing on Facebook can lead to a federal case or even identity theft. Thus 2014 will see the continued decrease of teenage and young adult users who have grown up in a state of privacy hyper-awareness. But will Facebook disappear from our social media landscape? Extremely doubtful, at least this year. As of now there are no sites that could fill the void Facebook apps would leave in a brand’s interactive advertising strategy. And users are too comfortable with Facebook to leave it in the dust. After all even Facebook haters still use it to keep in touch with long-distance family members and old college friends (and to plan the yearly SuperBowl party).
3. Video and images become top content.
Unfortunately younger generations are losing their attention spans. Reading articles and long-form posts is so yesterday for them; it’s all about the pictures, video, and music. So if a brand can’t catch their eye quickly with multimedia, there’s no hope for brand loyalty (or even reach for that matter). Hence the rise of Instagram, Vine, Pinterest, and Snapchat in the past year or so. Brands are going to have to get creative with visual content that not only tells their brand story but also ties together content on their other media-centric platforms. It may be tedious and time consuming, but it will be worth building a well-rounded brand. Brands could even become this year's thought-leadership online.
4. Mobile will become essential.
If you’re living in 2014, your phone is an extension of your hand, and your data plan is now a staple on your credit card bill (an expensive staple, but you couldn’t live without it). So you know full well the frustrations of finding a brand’s website on your mobile browser just to realize it’s not mobile friendly. %&*$?@. If anything turns me off a brand quickly, it’s a non-user-friendly website; you shouldn’t make me fight for information. As part of a brand’s marketing strategy, it should also make sure all informational sites are integrated: mobile, social, and otherwise. Broken links will make me explode almost as fast as non-mobile websites.
So besides all the software updates to the various social media sites, I think 2014 will see Google+ gaining active users as Facebook begins its decline, a shift from long-form to visual content, and streamlined websites and social integration for the smartphone generation.