Last year was a whirlwind year for social media, both for the networks themselves and the small businesses and organizations relying on them to reach their audiences.
While it’s hard to tell exactly where everything is going in 2013, we thought we’d take a crack at it and make some predictions for the world of social media.
What’s going to change? What’s going to stay the same?
More importantly, will we still be so concerned with “likes,” tweets, pins, and follows at this time in 2014?
Here are our five social media predictions for 2013:
1. Social media marketing becomes a business-critical activity
Over the past five years, we have witnessed small business attitudes toward social media evolve from dismissive passivity to cautious curiosity.
Despite larger brands’ excitable embrace of social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest, most small businesses have been slow to include social in their marketing mix.
In 2013, that’s going to change. We think small businesses will approach social media marketing as a business-critical, daily activity and, consequently, start seeing the value these channels bring to their businesses.
2. Images become even more important for engagement
Instagram took a bold move when the social network thought about licensing users’ photos for commercial use to different companies.
Since then, the company has back-pedaled. But the message was clear: images, especially social images, are going to be big.
For example, a recent study showed:
- Facebook posts with photos are “Liked” twice as much as text-only posts
- Videos posted on Facebook are shared 12 times more than links and text-only posts
- Photo & video posts on Pinterest are referring more traffic than Google+, Twitter, and LinkedIn
- Pinterest users are following more brands than on Facebook and Twitter
In 2013, we’ll see this trend continue.
There’s a big appetite for visual stories and brands that combine images with content in innovative ways will see user engagement spike.
3. LinkedIn keeps getting bigger
According to our Social Media Manager Erica Ayotte, another trend is going to be LinkedIn’s increasing relevance in the social space.
“A year ago, LinkedIn was definitely a laggard in the social media world,” she says, “but they made some great improvements this past year—with updated profiles, new company pages, the influencer following program, and the endorsements feature—the network has become a valuable resource.”
Erica adds that LinkedIn is going to become the destination for your entire professional life, not just the place you go when you’re looking for a job.
“Folks are treating LinkedIn much more like Facebook’s Newsfeed than ever before: posting more regularly and engaging within the feed. I’m curious to see what else LinkedIn has up their sleeve.”
4. Google & Twitter get cozy
Erica’s other hunch is that Google and Twitter will start integrating more in an attempt to put more pressure on Facebook.
“That would be a natural fit for Google, since the majority of Twitter accounts are public and Facebook users all usually have some privacy controls on their accounts,” she explains. “Remember when Google removed the real-time Twitter search function? I have a feeling that will return in some way or form. Social signals are becoming increasingly important in the relevance game as clout and authority become increasingly important.”
5. Content marketing will play an even bigger role in 2013
Content was a driving force for many businesses in 2012, because when you give people something that’s valuable, you help build a relationship that means people will be much more likely to pay attention to your organization in the future.
Information that’s fun or helpful (or both!) is what people share and link to, whether they find that engaging content on a blog, a social media network, or in an email. And that’s important for search, too– Google automatically looks for the best, most useful information on any topic and puts it at the top of search results.
You can expect unique and engaging content to continue as the number one way for small businesses and organizations to build relationships with their audiences and attract new customers or supporters.
What predictions do you have for social media in 2013? Let us know below!