In September, when Google installed its Hummingbird algorithm update, everything changed. Social media became THE necessary ingredient for a successful search engine optimization strategy. Previously, organizations would frequently allocate budget to one or the other, but, in 2014, it’s necessary to invest in both as a single line item called SMO.
As a result, 2014 will see an upswing in SEO companies suddenly pedaling social media services (but do they do it well?) and social media companies suddenly jumping into the SEO game.
The content of social media is already changing to take advantage of Google’s new preferences (long tail keywords anyone?)
This will also revive the need to blog as blogs are the number one social media optimization tool for driving traffic to your website. Companies that may have hesitated due to a blog’s on-going need for quality content (and costs associated with that content) will make room.
But the good news is that, in combining the two services as a single SMO service, fees should be a bit more reasonable compared to paying for both services separately.
What this means to you: If you’re in the market for SEO, make sure you go with a company that has technical expertise to manage your SEO AND the communications background to manage your social media.
Trend #2: The Rising Cost of Facebook
When Facebook implemented its new algorithm update last August, there was much ado about the kind of content Facebook would rank highest. Pundits blogged about the need to link to large news outlets, concentrate on videos, avoid like-bait, etc., but almost five months later it’s clear the only thing that is proven to get your posts shown to your community is money.
Companies that rely solely on organic engagement can expect their posts to be seen by a maximum of ten per cent of their community. Sponsor the post, and the maximum jumps to 20%.
The days of good old-fashioned organic community and brand awareness building on Facebook are dead…
What this means to you: If you expect to see 2013 engagement levels on your Facebook page, you have to ante up the dollars to 1. maintain/build you audience and 2. ensure they see your content.
If you’re starting from scratch, it’s important to build a generous advertising spend into your Facebook budget. Perhaps the smartest thing is to determine if you really need Facebook or if there’s other networks that might be better suited to your demographic.
Instagram’s success was the story of 2013 and, in 2014, the success continues.
With 150 Million active monthly users, Instagram is nothing to sniff at.
Purchased by Facebook in 2013, Instagram’s usage soared when Facebook added desktop and android capability. With seamless integration between the two, Instagram remains popular even amongst the younger demographic who would otherwise leave Facebook all together.
It will be interesting to see if Instagram falls into the same analytics trap (really a lack of analytics) that enveloped Pinterest. Without proper analytics, it’s difficult to run contests and justify marketing spends. But given that its parent offers the best in-house analytics of all the networks, and Instagram is launching its own advertising platform in 2014, I think we should see improved analytics soon.
What this means to you: If you’re a company well suited to the visual networks (think: Fashion, photography, travel, etc.), Instagram is where you need to be. It has more users than Pinterest and, unlike Pinterest, engagement is on the rise. With Facebook’s support it can’t go wrong and nor can your brand if you get on Instagram now and start building your Instagram audience.
I love Twitter and I believe that 2014 will be a great year for Twitter users.
I had my doubts in early 2013 when it felt like Twitter was losing its appeal. Too noisy. Too spammy. Too many marketers. But Twitter has taken some big steps to weed out the spammers by shutting down spam-generating software like Tweet Adder and changing their API last spring to bring users back to Twitter’s own user interface thereby boosting authentic engagement.
We’ve heard lots about the younger demographics’ exodus from Facebook. Too many parents! Too Much advertising! So uncool… and guess where they’re landing? Twitter!
Another nice thing about Twitter is that it recently launched its own advertising platform but, unlike the disruptive ads we see on Facebook, Twitter’s ads are softer and better integrated into the stream. Frankly, they don’t piss users off as much as Facebook ads.
The big question is ‘will 2014 finally be the year Twitter provides basic analytics for all accounts?’ (even those that don’t advertise) Probably not. After two years of waiting, I’ve lost hope. But at least, unlike other networks like Pinterest, Twitter allows third party platforms to measure so we’re not without rich data.
What this means to you: Twitter still makes sense for both B2B and B2C companies and, if your target demographic is younger, then you may opt to concentrate on a series of networks like Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr, rather than investing in just Facebook. With the right engagement levels and with a professional managing your feed, Twitter continues to be a smart investment.
Trend #5: Google Loves Google+ Best
First it was big, then it faded away, now it’s big again. If you’ve had the patience to see this network through since its launch back in 2011, you’re about to reap the rewards.
Thanks to Gmail and YouTube integration, Google+ is big all over again. Why? Well, no doubt the gorgeous graphics, intuitive interface and fabulous features like Google Hangouts play a role, but really? It’s all about SEO.
Google can search hashtags and, if you hashtag a public post on Facebook versus hashtag a similar post on Google+, which one do you think Google will prefer to index? Blood is thicker than water, my friends.
Then we get into Google Authorship. Claiming authorship of your blog boosts credibility and with it, SEO. Social sharing is a big deal for SEO (see trend #1) and Google loves Google+ best.Personally I think Google+ will be the social media darling of 2014.
What this means to you: Google+ is a necessary SEO tool. And, because people are adopting it in such compelling numbers, true engagement is not far behind. There are so many reasons to be on Google+, it’s the one social network that, in 2014, you simply can’t afford to ignore.