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Plenty of entrepreneurs, managers, CEO, SEO, and Internet sorts have been throwing their opinions into the social media arena ahead of 2014. What can businesses around the world expect? Whilst there’s unlikely to be a major overhaul, there are minor changes worth noting. I’ll throw my opinion out there, too, and have a go at some social media prescience. Here’s what you should consider for the year ahead.

Twitter and Facebook Up Financial Demands

Thousands of new brands have taken to the big two social media networks to promote their products throughout 2013. Due to this the activity feeds for Twitter and Facebook have become a frenzied war zones where everyone is trying to outdo each other. Twitter have brought in Sponsored Tweets, which companies pay for — the Tweet gets launched high up search results. This comes at quite the price, and one which major companies can easily afford. For small businesses unable to throw millions at marketing campaigns, a cannier approach is required. You can visit the Twitter for Smaller Businesses page to consider if this option is for you. Facebook has a similar theme where you can pay to “boost” posts.

What is clear is more companies will be paying to get their social media activities seen by the public. When you decide your marketing strategy it’s up to you to decide if you want to pay the fees. 2014 will be a stressful year as millions fight for guest post places and content that will stand out. My advice is to understand your niche and to keep your content as entertaining as possible. Don’t be grandiose where it isn’t necessary, and engage your current customers in a friendly way.

Google+ Will Be Vital

Your social media activities help to improve your brand awareness, reach out across the vastness of the Internet, and connect with established customers. Content marketing does much the same, directing traffic to your site. Having quality articles is a must, and you will want to pay for this to be done correctly. However, instead of relying on online article services, hire talented writers and work with them directly to produce original content for your site. If Google thinks you’re spamming the websites, there could be a unpleasant reaction.

One way to keep this from happening is prove your credentials by registering for Google+. In 2014 it’s absolutely necessary to be set up on this social media format — its user rate is booming and it’s linked with all of Google’s major features (YouTube, Gmail, etc.). If you’re not on Google+, sign yourself on immediately, fill out your profile in detail, and sign up to Google Authorship. This is vital for anyone with a regular online content presence — you want to be recognised by Google as a proper writer, and not a dreaded spammer. Google will no doubt be rolling out updates for the service throughout 2014, and you would be wise to take advantage of the company’s ingenuity.

Google Search Updates

There will be more of them on the way and they will define how you adapt your marketing campaign in 2014. Google are fairly open about when the updates go out, so keep an eye out and adjust your activities accordingly.

Images and Video as Customer Engagement

Images and video are an increasingly important marketing tool, first really highlighted by Pinterest in 2012. Two new companies have been making an impact of late. Snapchat involves sending a message, which promptly deletes itself from history after its been read. It’s largely based around images, and it’s proving popular due to the privacy issues many people have regarding social media. Some companies have been trying out the tool for marketing campaigns — so long as an image is striking it can stick in someone’s mind even if the message promptly ceases to exist. Vine videos are somewhat similar as they promote creativity, so any companies with a creative set of promoters can come up with an entertaining video to market.

Embracing mobile technology is key to this. Giving new formats a whirl can pay off in unexpected ways; keep an eye out for innovative apps and new software and steal the opportunity away from other businesses. Something could always come from it.

Increased Social Media Etiquette

In 2013 we began to see a backlash against the rampant narcissism exploding within certain social media formats. As the word “Selfie” entered the dictionary, several popular YouTube videos highlighted how gadgets are making many people lose their self-awareness. Others are becoming irritated by the lack of manners on show. Some Selfies from the public went viral as they were taken in staggeringly inappropriate locations: at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, Auschwitz, and there were numerous from people at funerals.

2014 should see a greater amount of awareness campaigns regarding online etiquette. This is already in action courtesy of Lauren McCarthy and Kyle McDonald, who have created an app which uses Google’s Hangouts section to keep people from being annoying. Us+ monitors your Google video chat through linguistic analysis. If you’re griping too much it will drop text hints to be more optimistic. If Us+ gets entirely bored of your verbose rambling it will shut the microphone off. Such initiatives will likely be on the increase in 2014 and you should make sure your company isn’t irritating customers with online content. One standard complaint is overdoing posts — keep activities concise, striking, and limited to avoid driving people away.

3D Printing?

Finally, 3D printing has been everywhere in the news during 2013: 3D printed art conventions, movie marketing campaigns, and 3D printed food machines. The technology will be affordable for everyone within a few years, and expect many innovations in 2014. In the meantime, if you run the Windows 8.1 OS, you can download free 3D printing software called MakerWare. It’s by MakerBot, and even if you don’t have a 3D printer it’s worth having a look through to try and comprehend the technology.

Can we expect to see a social media 3D printing revolution? Many companies are trying: Warner Bros. used The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug to engage fans with a 3D printed Key to Erebor, and my company ran a 3D printing design competition earlier in 2013 to great success. Something is certainly stirring, so keep an eye on news feeds to see if you can apply it to your niche.

About Alex Morris

Alex Morris is a Copywriter and Social Media Manager for the award winning Soap Media. He has also worked as an SEO Executive and Digital Marketer for a leading small business in the UK, and has been a business writer and blogger since completing a Masters Journalism degree in 2007. He spends his spare time developing a satirical blog whilst working on a debut novel.

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