Anyone working in social media marketing appreciates the unique challenges of attempting to budget and plan for the upcoming year’s social media strategy. How can we know the type and level of resources we’ll need to be successful when the mix of social content is evolving so quickly? And when most social marketers have only recently secured budgets commensurate with the amount of time and resources required to succeed in social media marketing, how do we stay ahead of emerging trends in 2013? Did we know we’d need a Pinterest budget a year ago? Probably. Do we need a Vine budget today? Probably not.
Still stressing? Don’t worry, there is help. While no one can claim to predict the future (if that were the case, I’d be quietly investing in commodities markets and/ or making outrageous sports wagers from the tropical island I owned), we can share perspectives from the very real emerging trends we’ve seen from customers and consumers. Here are five ways social content is evolving for brands in 2013:
1. More Brands Will Embrace Visual Content
In a time when BuzzFeed-style GIFs and memes have moved from the fringe to the mainstream and “tiles” are re-defining website UX, visual content – whether quick and quirky or detailed and analytical – is becoming a consistently reliable way to capture the hearts and minds of your community. And as long as networks like Instagram, Tumblr, and Pinterest continue to grow and thrive, more brands will experiment reaching users and customers by telling visual stories. But brands should remember that words and narratives still matter — one only needs to visit the average Pinterest boards to see a disconnected hodgepodge of content that is seemingly there to fill space, but not contributing to any planned story. The time-honored creative institution of art and copy have never been more prevalent than in this new age of visual storytelling.
2. The Evolution of Real-Time Marketing
Oreo’s inspired and impromptu maneuver during this year’s Super Bowl blackout opened the floodgates to what many in the industry are calling the beginning of the real-time marketing era. But just a few weeks later during the Oscars, the public was subjected to decidedly flat attempts to recreate that Oreo magic from the likes of Google, Pantene, and JC Penney. However, the Oreos are out of the bag (so to speak), and social media marketers will continue to try capitalizing on moments around major events. However, brands should be warned that piggybacking on the pop culture zeitgeist may score a win from time to time, but they should make sure those instances are augmenting an already-prepared strategic plan, and not replacing it.
3. Figuring Out if [Insert Trend] Matters to Your Brand
Speaking of riding the zeitgeist, are you wondering if your brand needs to care about the Harlem Shake? Or NCAA March Madness? Or anything that just blew up on YouTube? It will become more evident that brands on social media won’t just need to be relevant in the context of their industry — they’ll also need to participate in global conversations more frequently. Whether that means hacking together their own Harlem Shake parody or simply referencing it in a Facebook update, brands will continue to learn that while their community may be following them because they like your product, there’s other interests that capture their hearts and minds. If brands can successfully capture sentiment around such interests, they’ll be perceived as all the more human by their fans.
4. Technology and the Wholly Social Brand
You can’t go to an industry conference without hearing someone shouting from the mountaintop about how social media can’t be a one person or one department operation — “your entire company needs to be a Community Manager” is something you’ve probably heard. It’s a lofty and exciting idea, but unfortunately, those who preach it never seem to have a solution for how to practice it. That will change with the emergence of social media marketing technology that does what current popular social management solutions aren’t doing: finding relevant third-party content for brand marketers to centrally curate and approve for publishing by hundreds (or even thousands) of employees from anywhere in the world. If you want social at scale, you need technology that can manage it. You’ll start seeing those technology solutions in 2013 and beyond. Rallyverse is one of a very small number of startups working in this new and exciting vertical.
5. Personal Algorithms
While we may not be conscious of it, we’re all curators in some respect — we use various tools to filter out noise to find signal, whether it’s in our Twitter stream, Facebook News Feed, or on another social network. Clay Shirky once famously said — “there is no such thing as information overload. There is only filter failure.” While that’s a novel sentiment, the ability to filter out the information we don’t want to surface what we do is becoming harder every day. We’ll begin to see more sophisticated technology tools and platforms that allow individuals and brands to have personal algorithms that surface the content that’s most relevant to them, and can be fine-tuned in real-time based on their changing interests.
Joe Doran, the CEO and co-founder of Rallyverse, is a seasoned and accomplished senior executive with 15 years of experience managing digital media, advertising and social media solutions in high growth companies such as Microsoft, General Mills and Media6Degrees. Joe is a sought-after expert in interactive advertising, advertising technology and social media and is an active investor and advisor to a number of social and advertising companies. Joe will be speaking at the AllTwitter Marketing Conference on June 4 in San Francisco.
(Social media image via Shutterstock.)