Social Media Marketing Trends 2015: Insights & Predictions From 19 Experts

Ampli­fi­ca­tion, mobile, inte­gra­tion among the keys to social media suc­cess in 2015.

Danny Goodwin By Danny Goodwin from Momentology. Join the discussion » 2 comments

While social media is con­stant­ly evolv­ing, one thing remains unchanged as 2015 approach­es: at its core, social media is all about hav­ing a two-way con­ver­sa­tion with your audi­ence. Visu­al con­tent, paid ampli­fi­ca­tion, and mobile are a few trends that will dic­tate strat­e­gy and invest­ment adjust­ments for many brands, but social should con­tin­ue to sup­port your brand’s goals and help build rela­tion­ships with your audi­ence, as well as build­ing author­i­ty and trust. As SAP CMO Jonathan Bech­er said ear­li­er this year, “Social is an enabler, not a goal in itself.” Here are insights and pre­dic­tions from 19 of the top social media experts on what we should expect to see in 2015.

Jason Burby, President, Americas at POSSIBLE

Jason BurbyTwo trends to watch:

  • Using brand­ed con­tent to ampli­fy engage­ment through social. The key to this is com­ing up with authen­tic and rel­e­vant ideas and chan­nels that hit the brand’s audi­ence. Depend­ing on your audi­ence you can be more heavy-hand­ed with the tie to the brand; in oth­er cas­es, if you are too heavy-hand­ed, the audi­ence will reject it com­plete­ly. Where a lot of brands are strug­gling is around the rel­e­van­cy stand­point and how to cre­ate that con­tent in a time­ly scaleable man­ner at a rea­son­able cost. Brands are also strug­gling with defin­ing suc­cess when doing these things, a lot of peo­ple talk about engage­ment but don’t look at what that real­ly means for their busi­ness near-term and long-term. Start and end with a sim­ple ques­tion: “Does it Work?” By focus­ing on that up front we force the con­ver­sa­tion to define what suc­cess looks like upfront and then use that to mea­sure the suc­cess over time.
  • Real-time mar­ket­ing. RTM is anoth­er top­ic a lot of brands are look­ing at and con­sid­er­ing how to sys­tem­atize on an ongo­ing basis again in a way that can suc­cess­ful­ly scale. RTM requires the abil­i­ty to lis­ten and take advan­tage of appro­pri­ate oppor­tu­ni­ties and then lever­age media to dri­ve when it takes off. This requires allow­ing free­dom for quick respons­es, but also a strong under­stand­ing of brand voice to make sure con­sis­ten­cy is there.

Lisa Buyer, Author of “Social PR Secrets”

Lisa BuyerLinkedIn blue will be the new social media black for 2015 when it comes to pro­fes­sion­al net­work­ing and oppor­tu­ni­ties. The LinkedIn defin­i­tive pub­lish­ing plat­form intro­duced ear­ly this year is prime play to build a pro­fes­sion­al brand and for a com­pa­ny to claim stake in thought lead­er­ship posi­tion­ing. Since any­one can now post long-form con­tent, com­pa­nies now can lever­age an army of employ­ee brand advo­cates to estab­lish a deep­er rela­tion­ship with an audi­ence. But it will take a plan that calls for edi­to­r­i­al coor­di­na­tion, orga­ni­za­tion, cal­en­dars, and a team of ded­i­cat­ed exec­u­tives who can deliv­er con­tent. Match up the per­son­al con­tent pub­lish­ing with the a brand’s LinkedIn Page’s Com­pa­ny updates and Groups and then add some spon­sored updates in the form of social adver­tis­ing on Face­book and you’re reach­ing new audi­ence heights. The 5‑Step LinkedIn to-Do List for 2015

  1. Select a con­tent coor­di­na­tor.
  2. Iden­ti­fy 5+ authors with­in your com­pa­ny to be part of the LinkedIn edi­to­r­i­al team of writ­ers.
  3. Pub­lish arti­cles and then cross pro­mote to your Com­pa­ny Page, Spon­sored Updates (remem­ber to always use a strong visu­al).
  4. Imple­ment an employ­ee shar­ing plan.
  5. Mon­i­tor the feed­back, com­ments, and inter­ac­tions on the author’s per­son­al pro­files and also track ana­lyt­ics for the LinkedIn Com­pa­ny Page as well as refer­ring traf­fic to your web­site or blog via Google Ana­lyt­ics.

Tip: Pay atten­tion to audi­ence tar­get­ing to lever­age expo­sure to get the right con­tent in front of the right audi­ence.

Mel Carson, Founder of Delightful Communications

Mel CarsonBusi­ness­es will final­ly wake up to the fact that social media and mobile mar­ket­ing are no longer new phe­nom­e­na and should be inte­grat­ed right from the start of any mar­ket­ing cam­paign or inbound ini­tia­tive. The future of dig­i­tal lies in com­pa­nies being social and mobile by design!

Victoria Edwards, Digital Content Strategist at Florida Blue

Victoria EdwardsOne of the biggest trends for social media in 2015 will be using more bud­get to help ampli­fy your con­tent’s mes­sage. I also feel that more depart­ments across enter­pris­es will become more aware of how social media can aid in their efforts, which will in turn start to break down walls.

Brands will cre­ate con­tent that will be more cus­tomized for the spe­cif­ic audi­ence, and will also have a tighter con­nec­tion with PR.

Mar­keters and deci­sion-mak­ers will real­ize that social media isn’t free any longer, but if invest­ed in, can be very reward­ing.

  • On Face­book, we will still have to pay more and more mon­ey to show our mes­sage to the audi­ences we are try­ing to tar­get.
  • Twit­ter will con­tin­ue be still be a neces­si­ty for brands to remain rel­e­vant, but we will have to be super cre­ative (and also spend mon­ey) for our mes­sage to be ampli­fied.
  • Insta­gram will also only become more impor­tant for mar­keters. Cre­ativ­i­ty in mes­sag­ing is key so Insta­gram­mers of the world will see, lis­ten, and engage.

Barry Feldman, Marketing Consultant at FeldmanCreative

Barry FeldmanFor mar­keters… We’ll see the fas­ci­na­tion with all things social wear off a bit with the mass­es that expect­ed mir­a­cles sim­ply because they showed up. On the flip side, those who appre­ci­ate the remark­able oppor­tu­ni­ties new media presents, will rock our world by treat­ing us to amaz­ing­ly orig­i­nal and engag­ing con­tent.

For the media… The net­works you love are like­ly to become hard­er to stay in love with as they begin to, or con­tin­ue to, real­ize their ad-dri­ven, rev­enue-earn­ing, board-pleas­ing aspi­ra­tions.

Brands should deter­mine what they’re try­ing to accom­plish and forge a plan to do it. Most sim­ply pro­mote links to their con­tent.

I think Google+ will remain the high-pow­ered, but high­ly ignored net­work it is now. I real­ly love Google+, but it’s sim­ply not unique enough to light up the net or take the lead on any front. Those that dig into it seem to get a lot out of it. Long-term, I sus­pect its impact will be min­i­mal, but I want to be wrong.

Every year brings cool new tools. But lis­ten­ing, isn’t a tool. It’s a skill, a rare one. A very small per­cent­age of online mar­keters under­stand how social media presents the most amaz­ing oppor­tu­ni­ty ever for gain­ing insights into how con­sumers think and feel. Those mar­keters are like­ly to do great things.

Social media’s just get­ting warmed up. I’m not say­ing brands will invest wise­ly, but yeah, wal­lets shall con­tin­ue to open.

Natalie Henley, Vice President, Marketing at Volume Nine

Natalie HenleyThe lines of dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing (social vs. con­tent vs. SEO vs. PR, etc.) are going to get blur­ri­er in 2015. Brands active­ly focused on max­i­miz­ing returns are going to real­ize the best social media pro­grams hap­pen in tan­dem with these oth­er dis­ci­plines.

Addi­tion­al­ly, brands that haven’t fig­ured out visu­al con­tent are going to be real­ly behind the times. Trends like the grow­ing pop­u­lar­i­ty of Insta­gram, or the val­ue of pay­ing to boost visu­al con­tent in Face­book (which by the way, you real­ly should be doing), just show us the grow­ing demand of con­sumers who want cus­tom imagery. This, in turn, real­ly is lead­ing to a shift of qual­i­ty vs. quan­ti­ty.

Tying this all togeth­er:

In the past a “good” social share may have been to tweet the title of a quick blog post that you paid a third par­ty writer $50 to throw togeth­er for you. Now, that same process is pay­ing that writer con­sid­er­ably more, tak­ing the time to devel­op a com­pelling top­ic and rich con­tent, adding a cus­tom image (as well as incor­po­rat­ing tags like Open Graph and Twit­ter Card, with sizes and mes­sages appro­pri­ate for those plat­forms), cre­at­ing mul­ti­ple social posts to share that sin­gle piece of con­tent and final­ly pay­ing to boost those posts.

Simon Heseltine, Senior Director at AOL

Simon HeseltineOver recent years, in Spain, Ger­many, and Bel­gium we’ve seen news pub­lish­ers fight with Google as to whether they have the right to use snip­pets of their work to dri­ve traf­fic to them. Face­book seems to be spoil­ing for the same fight in 2015. They’ve decid­ed that rather than send pre­cious users away from them when they click on an arti­cle, they’re actu­al­ly going to host that arti­cle them­selves and share the ad rev­enue with the pub­lish­er.

For those that don’t opt in, they run the risk of los­ing that traf­fic source, and ced­ing it to their com­peti­tors. For those that do opt in, they’re basi­cal­ly pay­ing Face­book for the traf­fic they’re get­ting, through the ad rev­enue split. If this works, look for Face­book to iden­ti­fy oth­er ways of keep­ing users with­in their walled gar­den, mak­ing them almost like the por­tals of yore.

Kelsey Jones, Managing Editor of Search Engine Journal

Kelsey JonesI think more and more brands will be focus­ing on per­son­al­ized ser­vice. We’ve all seen those great exam­ples of brands going above and beyond to fix some­thing for a cus­tomer fast (e.g., I wrote about how Delta was my sav­ior way back in 2011 on my per­son­al blog) but I think there will be even more of a shift to cer­tain employ­ees becom­ing brand cham­pi­ons or “fig­ure­heads” of com­pa­nies on social media.

I think cus­tomers appre­ci­ate when they real­ize they are talk­ing to a spe­cif­ic per­son. It real­ly makes a dif­fer­ence when a brand’s Twit­ter account ends the tweet with the per­son who wrote the tweet­’s ini­tials, because then it shows that it’s real peo­ple behind the pub­lic face of the com­pa­ny. It cre­ates con­nec­tions; it makes your employ­ees some­one cus­tomers feel they can reach out to, instead of throw­ing their request into the vir­tu­al cir­cus of cus­tomer ser­vice and hop­ing some­one will respond.

Whether it’s Google+, Face­book groups/pages, or Twit­ter, mak­ing the peo­ple who han­dle your social media more vis­i­ble is going to increase engage­ment and the trust fac­tor of your com­pa­ny (espe­cial­ly if they come through and ensure cus­tomers have a great expe­ri­ence with your prod­ucts and ser­vices).

Douglas Karr, CMO at Circupress

Douglas KarrAccord­ing to a recent report, 5 out of 6 social media inquiries to busi­ness go unan­swered. Con­sumers are view­ing the medi­um as means of com­mu­ni­cat­ing with busi­ness­es, but busi­ness­es are still view­ing social media as sole­ly a mar­ket­ing chan­nel. This gap con­tin­ues to widen each year and it’s hurt­ing busi­ness. Brands should be pri­or­i­tiz­ing their com­mu­ni­ca­tion on social media by:

  1. Respond­ing to direct requests and ensur­ing issues are brought to a con­clu­sion.
  2. Pro­vid­ing val­ue to their com­mu­ni­ty beyond the brand’s prod­ucts and capa­bil­i­ties – build­ing author­i­ty and trust with them.
  3. Pro­mot­ing them­selves active­ly with social adver­tis­ing.
  4. Mea­sur­ing response and share of voice against their com­pe­ti­tion.

Social lis­ten­ing plat­forms will con­tin­ue to evolve with auto­mat­ed rout­ing and intel­li­gent respons­es. Com­pa­nies who invest and respond via social lis­ten­ing will see improved reten­tion, and increased cus­tomer val­ue.

Google+ will con­tin­ue to be a niche audi­ence, but hang­outs and YouTube inte­gra­tion will con­tin­ue to pro­pel it for­ward as com­pa­nies see the oppor­tu­ni­ties in shar­ing real-time video.

Image-cen­tric net­works will need to improve mon­e­ti­za­tion for their own liveli­hood – incor­po­rat­ing both paid pro­mo­tion and the oppor­tu­ni­ty to inte­grate cam­paign track­ing and calls-to-action (e.g., click the image and go to a pur­chase).

Brand invest­ment must be revised in 2015 but the con­tin­ued “direct attri­bu­tion” mod­el needs amend­ed. Indi­rect attri­bu­tion and improved cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion must be inte­grat­ed into invest­ment analy­sis so com­pa­nies can see the total return on social media analy­sis.

Sean Murricane, Senior Social Media Specialist at TwentySix

Sean MurricaneFor brands, social net­works, led of course by Face­book, have made it clear: the free lunch is over. Paid-for has to be a part of your strat­e­gy.

Social media can’t sit in iso­la­tion any more. Few­er and few­er com­pa­nies are employ­ing ded­i­cat­ed social media peo­ple, espe­cial­ly at a senior lev­el, because they’re real­iz­ing that it’s now as essen­tial a part of an inte­grat­ed mar­ket­ing and cus­tomer rela­tions approach.

The temp­ta­tion is still there to attempt to find ways of forc­ing tra­di­tion­al cus­tomer acqui­si­tion activ­i­ties or income chan­nel on social. I hope that 2015 is the year that more and more orga­ni­za­tions “get” social at the senior lev­el. The rea­sons for hav­ing con­ver­sa­tions with your cus­tomers should be obvi­ous. Don’t just sell to them.

Social lis­ten­ing has seen great leaps in the last year, and the chal­lenge now is what to do with all the data and knowl­edge they’ve been build­ing up. We know more than ever about the audi­ence each brand has, and where the tar­get audi­ences are – so cre­at­ing con­tent that both retains the loy­al fol­low­ing while appeal­ing to the tar­get audi­ence will be the big chal­lenge.

A mul­ti-chan­nel approach is essen­tial to reach­ing your dif­fer­ent audi­ences in dif­fer­ent ways.

I’ve nev­er been a huge pro­po­nent of Google+, and feel like it’s always been this nice lit­tle plat­form that’s had a loy­al fol­low­ing, and it’s not going to be a Face­book beat­er. But nei­ther it should be. The func­tion­al­i­ty on there is strong, and it’s a bit of a relief that Google have cut loose a lot of the require­ments to sign up. I doubt 2015 will be “The Year of Google+”.

We’ve start­ed to see the first gen­uine celebri­ties emerge from these chan­nels in the last year – more and more oth­er chan­nels will start to pick up on these peo­ple. Although that end­ed fair­ly dis­as­trous­ly for ITV2 this year, you can expect to see more radio and tele­vi­sion per­son­al­i­ties emerge through the Vine, YouTube, and Insta­gram route when in the past they would have to work their way up through Hos­pi­tal or Stu­dent Radio or TV.

Invest­ment in social media is going to be cru­cial­ly impor­tant, but bring it in right at the start of the plan­ning process – don’t just let the tra­di­tion­al PR and mar­ket­ing teams go and sort out their cam­paigns, then take them to social and say “Can you do us a hash­tag?”

How will this play out on social?” should be asked right at the start along with “How will this play out in the Press?”

To sum up: Social’s no longer an emerg­ing trend – it’s a part of how peo­ple expect to inter­act with your brand.

Lee Odden, CEO of Top Rank Online Marketing

Lee OddenFor social media, there are three big trends worth watch­ing and act­ing on for 2015:

  1. Social media is no longer organ­ic: Grow­ing mon­e­ti­za­tion by social net­works will dimin­ish organ­ic ampli­fi­ca­tion to near insignif­i­cant lev­els. At the same time, social plat­forms will pro­vide even more effec­tive adver­tis­ing options to reach spe­cif­ic audi­ence tar­gets. Accord­ing to BIA Kelsey, U.S. Social Media Adver­tis­ing Rev­enues are expect­ed to reach $15B by 2018.
  2. Social media is most­ly mobile: Social net­work­ing and adver­tis­ing on mobile devices will con­tin­ue to explode in pop­u­lar­i­ty among con­sumers. Nielsen reports that more time is spent on the Inter­net through smart­phones than PCs and half of smart­phone own­ers vis­it social net­works on their devices dai­ly.
  3. Social media is inte­grat­ed: Savvy brands will be invest­ing even more in social tech­nolo­gies across the orga­ni­za­tion from social busi­ness plat­forms to fos­ter inter­nal col­lab­o­ra­tion and effi­cien­cy to exter­nal par­tic­i­pa­tion mar­ket­ing efforts to crowd­source con­tent with brand social net­works. IDC expects the world­wide enter­prise social net­works mar­ket rev­enue to grow from $1.24 bil­lion in 2013 to $3.5 bil­lion by 2018.

Erik Qualman, Author of “Socialnomics”, “What Happens in Vegas Stays on YouTube”

Erik QualmanSocial and mobile aren’t emerg­ing tech­nolo­gies, they are merg­ing tech­nolo­gies. You will see a mas­sive shift in focus and heavy invest­ments into brands start­ing to pro­duce “in-house” video.

Keep­ing in mind that now over 50 per­cent of site traf­fic is com­ing from mobile and that by 2017 it’s pre­dict­ed that two-thirds of all con­sump­tion on the mobile device will be video. We will begin to see in 2015 deep invest­ments into mobile video that can be eas­i­ly shared via social.

Adam Schoenfeld, CEO of Simply Measured

Adam SchoenfeldIn the future, we expect to see com­pa­nies rely­ing on social data to influ­ence busi­ness deci­sions beyond the mar­ket­ing depart­ment. There is an increas­ing inter­est in how social media affects all areas of the busi­ness, includ­ing sales, recruit­ing, cus­tomer sup­port and mar­ket research. Mar­keters were the first to har­ness social data, but the strate­gic insights you can gain from social ana­lyt­ics play an impor­tant role for all areas of the com­pa­ny.

Michelle Stinson-Ross Social Media Strategist at

Michelle-Stinson-RossAs social media mar­ket­ing has matured, I think 2015 will be the year that some brands start pulling away from the pack with high invest­ment con­tent. What do I mean by high invest­ment con­tent? Few­er pieces of con­tent and more invest­ment of time, bud­get, and cre­ativ­i­ty in tru­ly out­stand­ing con­tent pieces.

The ten­den­cy to crank out con­tent on a dai­ly basis has con­tributed to a lot of noise across all the social chan­nels. Face­book in par­tic­u­lar has spent the last year mak­ing it plain to brands that they will be buried in the user news feeds unless they cre­ate some­thing tru­ly amaz­ing or impact­ful.

I think that ful­ly pro­duced sto­ry­telling videos will be a large part of that trend to high invest­ment con­tent. Face­book wants more native video. Google+ is open­ing doors to video con­tent cre­ation via the Google+ hang­outs.

Con­tent is king, but bril­liant con­tent will be emper­or in 2015.

Bas van den Beld, Founder of State of Digital

basI’d say a big trend at the moment is the use of video and Linkedin. Social media mar­keters are mak­ing full use of ser­vices like Vine and Insta­gram to give peo­ple a visu­al expe­ri­ence. Peo­ple also like to share visu­als so the use of ser­vices like these, and espe­cial­ly video, is under­stand­able.

Linkedin opened up its pub­lish­er plat­form recent­ly, which means it’s now much more than just a plat­form to exchange job infor­ma­tion.

Brands should be aware to not over­share on these plat­forms, but seri­ous­ly tar­get. Use video and Linkedin in a way that their audi­ence will appre­ci­ate it, not just because it’s a trend. It means the con­tent shared should be in line with the expec­ta­tions of the audi­ence.

Iris Vermeren, Community Manager at Brandwatch

Iris VermerenReal-time: Oreo’s exquis­ite­ly timed “Dunk in the Dark” tweet dur­ing the Super­Bowl 2013 taught us one thing: real-time social media mar­ket­ing is the future. By hav­ing a packed social media com­mand cen­ter in place for the event, the cook­ie brand was able to cap­ture the real-time vibe and go viral.

Watch for a rise in cross-net­work, real-time cam­paigns and events next year. Some mar­keters still chase their dai­ly mean­der­ings in “favorites”, “likes”, “shares” and oth­er imme­di­ate (point­less) met­rics. The most suc­cess­ful ones will have ever more cus­tomer data, mon­i­tor­ing trends every minute of the day, capa­ble of faster adap­tion, short­er lead times, and always-on, real-time mar­ket­ing. Instead of the next quar­ter or the next month, the focal point for the best becomes the next hour or minute.

Pre­pare to pay: Over the last year, Face­book and oth­er social net­works have all but killed the organ­ic reach of your page posts, leav­ing you with no choice but to pay for expo­sure or hope for shares from your dimin­ish­ing reach. As oth­er plat­forms get their ad prod­ucts launched – Insta­gram and Pin­ter­est recent­ly intro­duced ads and pro­mot­ed pins – spend­ing there will rise. Social media is no longer a “free ride”. So be pre­pared to spend more of your bud­get in social adver­tis­ing. With the recent devel­op­ments, this trend is like­ly to grow.

Mobile-friend­ly Con­tent: By 2017, 87 per­cent of con­nect­ed devices sales will be tablets and smart­phones, accord­ing to Forbes. Due to the rapid­ly grow­ing, wide­spread use of smart­phones, tablets and oth­er devices, opti­miz­ing con­tent that’s acces­si­ble to mobile users will become the norm!

Wear­able tech will surge (Apple Watch, Athos, etc.) which will put an even greater empha­sis on mobile for many com­pa­nies. There will be more inte­gra­tion of tech­nol­o­gy with our dai­ly lives and habits, mean­ing more chances of hit­ting your audi­ence with rel­e­vant mes­sages when they mat­ter, and less effec­tive­ness of broad­cast­ing mes­sages.

Social Lis­ten­ing: If I had to pick three futur­is­tic devel­op­ments in social lis­ten­ing, they would be the appli­ca­tion of social data in more places across orga­ni­za­tions, the actu­al social media pur­chas­ing itself (e.g., the recent­ly announced Twit­ter buy but­ton) and the increas­ing use of pre­dic­tive ana­lyt­ics.

The huge amount of human inter­ac­tions and data flow­ing through social media today has increased vis­i­bil­i­ty for brands and sim­pli­fied online research. Online reviews and rat­ings have gained sig­nif­i­cant promi­nence. Social media has become a podi­um for brands and helps them bet­ter under­stand how to res­onate with their audi­ence.

Every day, we’re hear­ing from our clients how impor­tant deep lis­ten­ing and ana­lyt­ics are. The indus­try is def­i­nite­ly mov­ing toward deep lis­ten­ing that informs and pro­vides holis­tic social intel­li­gence that is action­able and impacts busi­ness and cam­paign deci­sions.

Ana­lyz­ing what your cus­tomers, com­peti­tors and oth­er stake­hold­ers have to say about your brand is para­mount, but his­tor­i­cal data and real-time lis­ten­ing will only get you so far.

More impor­tant is the way busi­ness­es will act upon this infor­ma­tion and how they will grasp oppor­tu­ni­ties. Brands need to be able to spot issues before they devel­op into a cri­sis. Using social lis­ten­ing tools will help them detect which con­ver­sa­tions could lead to a great head­line sto­ry, a new busi­ness idea or even a con­vert­ed cus­tomer.

The only way to stay ahead of the curve is to not only under­stand what your stake­hold­ers are say­ing, but also what they might say. When brands rec­og­nize how pow­er­ful data can be, they can’t help but be com­pelled to act on it – hence this shift that we’re expe­ri­enc­ing towards putting social data on big walls, in oper­a­tion cen­ters, in front of the C‑suite, in people’s hands.

Even­tu­al­ly, the brands that will come out on top are the ones will pre­dict what’s going to hap­pen next. They will make the most of the bil­lions of con­ver­sa­tions online to tru­ly inno­vate and look beyond past hap­pen­ings.

Google+: Let’s face it. Many of us are still fig­ur­ing out Google+. It’s main­ly a hub for dig­i­tal and tech-mind­ed peo­ple, espe­cial­ly in the B2B space. Google+ lacks the pop­u­lar­i­ty of Face­book, Twit­ter, LinkedIn, and YouTube, mak­ing it chal­leng­ing to gen­er­ate as much engage­ment. But despite Google’s des­per­ate attempts to fur­ther pop­u­lar­ize its social net­work, orga­ni­za­tions don’t have choice but to join if they want to improve their SEO rank­ings. It’s part of the Google empire and can help remain rel­e­vant in search, find­ing and build­ing rela­tion­ships with influ­encers and it can strength­en your indus­try author­i­ty.

Image shar­ing net­works: Insta­gram, Pin­ter­est, Vine, Snapchat all of these net­works fore­saw the impor­tance of visu­al con­tent and grasped the oppor­tu­ni­ty accord­ing­ly. Twit­ter revamped its entire time­line design to bet­ter incor­po­rate pic­tures and ani­mat­ed GIFs. Five tweets in every sec­ond con­tain a Vine link.

We can expect to see a surge in visu­al con­tent (pic­tures, graphs, short clips, etc.) of which the most rel­e­vant and tar­get­ed ones will dom­i­nate the scene.

What’s excit­ing is that new data tech­nol­o­gy will be even more ground­break­ing in the next year. Com­put­ing pow­er is get­ting faster, lighter and thin­ner. Visu­al social intel­li­gence is ris­ing. Expect to see pow­er­ful new ways to visu­al­ly com­pre­hend data, bench­mark and ana­lyze cam­paigns para­mount to sur­viv­ing in com­pet­i­tive indus­tries.

Brand invest­ment: For as long as social media mar­ket­ing has been around, brands have strug­gled with how to deter­mine return on invest­ment. What’s the right amount, and how much should we focus on paid or tra­di­tion­al sales tech­niques, vs. new social media approach­es?

Paid social media place­ments are afford­able as opposed to tra­di­tion­al media, but your best bet is to try it out and see how it works with your audi­ence. Your clients expect to have two-way con­ver­sa­tions with your brand on social media. They expect their com­plaints or com­ments will be attend­ed to quick­ly. It’s para­mount to have a social pres­ence, to have a ded­i­cat­ed team of com­mu­ni­ty man­agers and have a pro­to­col in place of lis­ten­ing and engag­ing with stake­hold­ers.

The most pop­u­lar social chan­nels, espe­cial­ly Face­book, are push­ing more toward mon­e­tiz­ing. Put sim­ply, if you want to reach your audi­ence on those plat­forms. It will make sense to allo­cate more spend­ing there in the future.

The met­rics avail­able in social lis­ten­ing plat­forms are great, and they’re real­ly use­ful for opti­miz­ing your cam­paigns and jus­ti­fy the impact of your invest­ments. How­ev­er, brands have to be more sophis­ti­cat­ed in the way that they under­stand their own busi­ness objec­tives, apply them to the social space and devel­op stats and sto­ries that tell some­thing use­ful.

The solu­tion to the strug­gle of mea­sur­ing your ROI is to focus on inter­nal met­rics and mea­sures of suc­cess, rather than exter­nal ones. If you’re a car deal­er, what is a test dri­ve worth? Or what is it worth when some­one finds the phone num­ber to a deal­er­ship after see­ing it on your web­site? Brands should ask for more input from mul­ti­ple stake­hold­ers. It requires a lot of col­lab­o­ra­tion with your research depart­ments, mar­ket­ing and sales teams to deter­mine what cer­tain behav­iors are worth. Even­tu­al­ly, we’ll start see­ing these attri­bu­tion mod­els mature.

Tessa Wegert, Communications Director at Enlighten

Tessa WegertWe’ll see more inno­va­tion with regard to inter­ac­tiv­i­ty. This year we watched Mer­cedes-Benz build a native car con­fig­u­ra­tor tool on Insta­gram. An inter­ac­tive “Choose Your Own Adventure”-style Tum­blr is being used to pro­mote the film “Exists.” 2015 is sure to bring more cam­paigns that tie inter­ac­tiv­i­ty to social media plat­forms in order to boost engage­ment.

One of the best things a brand can do to opti­mize social media is to view social as a nec­es­sary com­po­nent of all pro­mo­tion­al activ­i­ties, from con­tent strat­e­gy to SEO and PR.

Many brands are still try­ing to wrap their heads around social media mar­ket­ing inte­gra­tion. With regard to social lis­ten­ing, I think we’ll see a boost­ed effort to mon­i­tor com­peti­tors and indus­try chat­ter, rather than brand con­ver­sa­tions alone.

Both brands and con­sumers are rec­og­niz­ing that there are added ben­e­fits to using Google+ that go beyond the net­work itself. For busi­ness­es, it’s greater expo­sure on Google and high lev­els of brand engage­ment. For con­sumers it’s fea­tures like map inte­gra­tion and more rel­e­vant ads. Next year may not be the tip­ping point, but Google Plus is grow­ing stronger every day.

Apart from more inter­ac­tive cam­paigns, I think we’ll see plat­forms like Pin­ter­est and Vine get more buy-in from For­tune 100 com­pa­nies. Last year Williams-Sono­ma pub­licly laud­ed Pin­ter­est for dri­ving sales, and GE is going all-in with its use of Tum­blr and Vine. Visu­al mar­ket­ing will be viewed not as one aspect of social media, but as a chan­nel all its own.

The social media invest­ment esti­mates I’ve seen for 2015 seem con­ser­v­a­tive. Spend­ing is bound to go up, but with so many indus­try reports and case stud­ies com­ing out in favor of social media mar­ket­ing I would­n’t be at all sur­prised if spends are revised.

Kelly Wrather, Senior Manager of Content Marketing at Kenshoo

Kelly WratherAs smart­phones, tablets, and wear­able tech­nolo­gies become fur­ther embed­ded in our day-to-day lives, apps and cross-device inter­ac­tion will become more impor­tant to mar­ket­ing efforts.

One of the biggest social media trends is the grow­ing impor­tance of mobile, par­tic­u­lar­ly with­in social adver­tis­ing. Per eMar­keter, mobile adver­tis­ing is on track to com­prise 68 per­cent and 84 per­cent of rev­enue for Face­book and Twit­ter, respec­tive­ly, by the end of this year.

Social chan­nels are step­ping up mobile offer­ings to help brands bet­ter con­nect with key audi­ences across devices. Look no fur­ther than Facebook’s relaunch of Atlas, roll­out of its Audi­ence Net­work, and intro­duc­tion of local aware­ness ads for exam­ples of the grow­ing mobile stake.

This scale in mobile, cou­pled with improved tar­get­ing and the rich social sig­nals avail­able, make mobile-social a key oppor­tu­ni­ty for brands.

With­in the app space, it will become more impor­tant for social mar­keters to dri­ve not just installs, but also track more down-stream activ­i­ty, tar­get re-engage­ment, and under­stand con­sumer life­time val­ue.

Brands will be poised to win if they start to look at social more holis­ti­cal­ly, across devices as well as chan­nels, and begin to apply cross-chan­nel and cross-device insights to bet­ter opti­mize efforts.

Ashley Zeckman, Director of Marketing at Benovate

Ashley ZeckmanThere are two major shifts already tak­ing hold of social media that will only be ampli­fied in 2015.

  • Con­sumers have already began block­ing out brands and con­tent that feel auto­mat­ed. In order for a brand to show real val­ue in 2015, they’re going to have to look and feel like real peo­ple. Con­sumers buy based on trust and emo­tion, so hav­ing a pow­er­ful voice behind your brand is a must.
  • Mar­keters must begin incor­po­rat­ing paid adver­tis­ing into their social media tac­tics. Plat­forms like Face­book have made it appar­ent that if you don’t invest, your audi­ence (organ­ic or oth­er­wise) will not even see your con­tent, let alone inter­act with it. In 2015 I pre­dict that mar­keters will begin to become much more savvy about when it makes sense to invest in social boost­ing or adver­tis­ing and when organ­ic reach will suf­fice.
Danny Goodwin

Written by Danny Goodwin

Managing Editor, Momentology

Danny Goodwin is the former Managing Editor of Momentology. Previously, he was the editor of Search Engine Watch, where he was in charge of editing, content strategy, and writing about search industry news.

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