Successful brands will figure out how to customize micro-content — especially visual stories — across disparate social networks. That’s a key take-away from the Econsultancy December 17 webinar, “The Top 8 Trends in Social Media: Opportunities for 2014.” conducted by noted entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk and Mike Corak of agency Ethology.
Corak, Ethology’s executive vice president of strategy, served up several trends that will shape the way marketers use social media in 2014. Among them:
- Marketers will integrate their branded content more effectively across the social world.
- Image/video networks such as Vine will grow, but marketers will be challenged to continue to find compelling visual content to suit the needs of visual platforms.
- Google+ will grow given its importance as a search engine optimization play — but its social value will remain in question.
- The collaborative economy will continue to grow.
The famously blunt Vaynerchuk challenged marketers to figure out how to connect more effectively with consumers who divide their attentions constantly across the many platforms that Corak discussed.
“Consumers used to give their attention to one medium at a time, whether TV, print, or radio,” Vaynerchuk said. “Now they are giving their phones their attention, and it’s shifting fast. If you are not storytelling where people’s eyes & ears are, you are irrelevant.”
One solution, he said, is to understand how to share micro-content on each platform, ranging from Pinterest to Facebook.
Mike Corak (left) and Gary Vaynerchuk (right)
“Learn to natively story tell on each platform,” he said. “If your brand is going to be on Snapchat, be funny and quirky. If you’re on Vine, be silly and comedic. Share pictures on Facebook, and interactive GIFs on Tumblr.”
But he added that insight into how consumers behave on each platform needs to drive your distribution strategy. Facebook users like to update their lives. Instagrammers like to share visual stories and express their appreciation for photos by double tapping (or liking photos) on their screens. Pinterest users probably have a stronger intent to purchase. Twitter users create and follow trends through hashtags. Brands need to follow suit.
For instance, in July 2013, tweets by Dove that leveraged trending hashtags received 64.6 percent more engagement than nontrending tweets.
And Vaynerchuk’s clients have achieved strong engagement by encouraging Instagram users to “double tap” (or Like) their images (double tapping being a crucial Instagram user behavior).
As they delved into trends for 2014, both Corak and Vaynerchuk dropped a number of tweetworthy comments, such as:
- 2014 wish list: “Marketers stop ruining social stuff” (Corak).
- “Every single person and organization is now in the storytelling business” (Vaynerchuk).
- “Every agency and brand is in the breaking news business” (Vaynerchuk).
- “Content is king, but context rules” (Corak).
Corak and Vaynerchuk also discussed the popularity of platforms like Snapchat and the decline of Facebook among youth. It’s been widely reported at this point that Facebook is losing young people, as platforms such as Snapchat gain cachet among youth. Vaynerchuk characterized the shift in demographics as an inevitable by-product of teen behavior. Teens, of course, are on an eternal quest for the cool and different, and it was only a matter of time before Facebook became uncool as more adults (and marketers) joined the platform. By implication, what happened to Facebook may happen to Snapchat once something cooler comes along.
I am not so sure that Facebook losing teens is necessarily bad. Nearly two-thirds of people aged 50-64 are now on Facebook, according to Pew. Baby Boomers have larger disposable incomes than teens do. Baby Boomers don’t multi-task as much as teens do, which should translate to higher rates of engagement for brands that know how to develop relationships with them. In my opinion, Baby Boomers having more influence on the world’s largest social network spells a larger, untapped marketing opportunity in 2014.