Facebook is ten years old next year (and here’s how it all began). A decade since Facebook arrived to tempt everyone away from MySpace, decimate Friends Reunited and really start the social media ball rolling on its seemingly unstoppable journey.
Since then, social media has changed the world unalterably and continues to do so at an astounding pace. So what’s next? What will social media mean for 2014? Well there’s sure to be plenty of surprises – but we can also make some educated guesses too. Here’s what to expect to see in the coming year.
Only social media specialist at your company? Not for long…
Firstly, expect even more people to be involved. Sounds obvious – social media certainly isn’t going anywhere – but job descriptions mentioning social media skills grew by 89% in 2013, while the recruitment of ‘social media managers’ slowed.
This means that employers are seeing social media skills as a desirable asset for all of their employees – that it’s not something that should be left to just one or two people in the marketing, comms or – heaven forbid – IT department. After all, if the world is using social media, why would you only employ a couple of people who know how to interact with it?
Social media has even made its way into the classroom now, so soon enough those people who can’t handle Facebook, Google Plus, LinkedIn or whatever will be in the minority – and be much less employable in this brave new world.
Oh, and speaking of Google Plus and LinkedIn…
G+ and LinkedIn will be the big movers next year
Expect these two sites in particular to grow in 2014. Sure, there’s a good chance right now you’re a bit dismissive of Google Plus, but if you’ve got a Google account, you’ve got a Google Plus profile, and Plus has 343 million monthly users. So that’s millions and millions of people worldwide – and expect 2014 to be the year Google really start to push those that use Google products into using its G+ network.
Because Google is determined to be successful in everything it does, it’s not going to stand for G+’s reputation as a ghost town for much longer. The search giant has already started using it to personalise people’s search ‘experience’ and as part of SEO – expect this process to continue much more aggressively in 2014. Within a year you’ll be talking about your ‘circles’ far more than you are right now.
LinkedIn is also in for a major boost in the New Year. The site has recently launched its ‘influencer’ programme to help you follow and connect with your industry’s ‘thought leaders’ – expect this to help it grow even larger, and become enormously attractive to B2B marketers. Expect personalised ad content to come to your LinkedIn profile in 2014. Although LinkedIn certainly won’t be alone there.
And one other site expected to grow next year, although perhaps not on the same scale, is MySpace. Now firmly targeted at music lovers and with an app that allows users to network and listen to their own personalised radio station, MySpace is set to continue its clamber from the abyss in 2014.
Hate personalised ads? Tough
Twitter has recently shown off a feature to allow advertisers to pay for tweets that target you by your postcode, leading to the possibility of you receiving messages along the lines of ‘Hungry? You’re just five minutes away from a Subway.’ Expect your Facebook ads to suddenly get a lot more targeted as well (although they are well targeted at the moment), while Google have already shown off their plans to allow companies to run ads featuring your face and any recommendations you’ve given to products or services.
Personalised ads have existed for a long time (well, a couple of years, which is a long time in social media terms), but expect them to be much more noticeable from next year on. People will be concerned about all this. But it’ll still happen. Get used to it.
There’ll be no one favourite place
One final thing; finding social media tough to keep up with now? Expect it to be harder next year as we see a continued fragmentation of the social media market. Teenagers – the real driving force of social media – are losing interest in Facebook and scattering all over the place: Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Tumblr, Vine, WhatsApp… places that allow them to share photos and videos more easily (often within a more closed network of friends than Facebook allows) and more spontaneously.
You’ll probably see a new contender or two jostling for market space in 2014 as well.
Expect to find brands with lots of visual imagery to share, taking a strong interest in Instagram and Snapchat, and don’t be surprised if you suddenly start seeing microsecond long promotional ‘movies’ appear at the start of Vine vids. The market is scattering, and that means that brands have to expand their efforts when it comes to making sure brand messages are targeted effectively.
Niche social networks will also see a rise in use, as more businesses begin to recognise the value of addressing a community that is specific to their industry. Whilst of course the main players will still be used and refined throughout next year, the constantly evolving nature of social media means that we may be in for a few surprises.
So that’s about it – our predictions for 2014. Once thing is certain – 2014 will be an exciting year for social media, with new developments appearing (and possibly disappearing) in the time it takes to watch a Vine video. So take a deep breath (because you might not get the time again), get ready and let’s see what 2014 brings.