At the end of last year, a few of us at work were asked to write an “How will [thing x] change in 2014?” This was my contribution. Nothing startling here, I hope.
In 2014 we’ll see a convincing move on behalf of brands with mature social media strategies to use social media as a signpost to content that exists on their owned spaces.
They’ll stop treating Facebook and Twitter as silos, and start casting them as the tools they need to drive traffic to their websites, blogs and content hubs. This will help them increase the longevity, value, and visibility of their investment in content creation. Social media will become a sign post. Social Traffic will be a key performance target for 2014.
Over the past 3 years, we’ve been going through a period of fan hyperinflation; where brands might once have hoped to find half a dozen superfans, they now commonly have millions of followers. Despite this, fans still represent a small fraction of the target market; for most mass-market brands, increasing purchase frequency among their Facebook fans won’t noticeably affect overall sales. Instead the fans’ power and significance comes when we can encourage them to endorse us and our products; and when we can scale that endorsement to reach the wider target audience.
Smart brands engage their fan audiences; now they will focus specifically on prioritising engagement that drives sharing and advocacy. The ultimate objective of social media marketing programmes is to turn our fans and customers into advocates in order to reach the wider audience with a compelling message introduced by a friend. Content Advocacy will be a key performance target next year.
Given this focus on advocacy, Brands will focus not on fan numbers and composition, but instead on the first degree audience; the friends of fans who can be exposed to earned and paid media. Understanding the totality of their fan-to-friend and reader-to-friend earned media will become a priority; requiring changes to content programmes, site technology and reporting processes.
What’s clear is that Social Media and Content Marketing are best friends; and that 2014 is going to be an exciting year.