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Social media trends 2015
The start of the year typically sees a flood of 'prediction' articles where experts try to shed some light on what we, as the less enlightened, can expect from the forthcoming year.
Unfortunately, the unpredictable nature of social media lends itself to nothing more than educated guesses, rumours and a roll of the dice. With this in mind, we've compiled our very own list of guesstimates on what social media trends we think digital marketers can expect from 2015.
Purchasing via social media
With social media already being used to build audience numbers and influence purchasing decisions, it's surprising that it's taken this long for networks to integrate with e-commerce.
Last year, Facebook and Twitter experimented with what has been dubbed 's-commerce,' by introducing a 'BUY' option alongside some posts / tweets that would enable users to purchase a product without having to leave their feed. Now whether this is good news for your bank account is debatable, but it's easy to see why marketers must be rubbing their hands in delight at the prospect of social media purchasing.
Facebook and Twitter (more so the former), already affords brands access to an easily targetable audience who are receptive to their message. Combine this message with an option to buy and companies will quickly be broadening their revenue streams. Simples. Additionally, due to the immediacy of social media, marketers will be able to tailor deals or products to current trends and take advantage of the impulsive nature of online shoppers.
Open your Facebook wallet
A feature hidden in the darkest depths of Facebook's messenger app has revealed the social media giant's intentions to control your wallet as well as your online relationships. Released by a hacker rather than Zuckerberg himself, the option (though not yet activated) would allow Facebook's users to send money to each other completely free of charge and without having to constantly enter bank details.
But why would Facebook want power over your wallet? The answer may well lie in the high interchange fees that merchants must pay when customers use a bank card. In the US, any debit card transaction would cost Facebook a set fee, whereas credit cards fees would be a percentage of the amount paid. Now while the service will be free for users to utilise initially, it's suggested that Facebook may eventually introduce a transaction fee of around , thus undercutting the high rates of traditional credit cards and opening up new revenue streams for the world's leading network.
Snapchat toyed with a similar idea in November when it introduced 'Snapcash,' a feature that allows users to securely input their bank account details and transfer money to a friends' account via the app. Apple and Google are also experimenting with their own 'pay' and 'wallet' innovations whilst the rest of the digitally distinguished wait with bated breath before making their move. It seems that social media transactions could be the defining trend of 2015.
Content to remain king
The digital marketing industry has grown exponentially over the past few years with 'quality content' being the driving force behind so many campaigns and branding strategies. This trend shows no signs of letting up in 2015 though, with companies seemingly set to continue ditching old-school marketing methods in favour of creating engaging and relevant content that's aimed at customers rather than just Google.
Everyone's second favourite network LinkedIn, helped further push the 'content ideology' when it opened it's publishing platform in February 2014. This feature allows all of it's users to create engaging posts and publish them for the perusal of their professional audience. This tool has provided brands a way of building an online presence as well as showcasing their industry knowledge and expertise.
In an internet saturated with articles and blog posts, it's easy to think that any efforts to produce unique content would get lost in a sea of mediocre duplication. Despite this, truly unique content has be shown to separate a business from it's competitors and bring more traffic, links and search engine findability to a site. So this year, expect companies to invest a little more time and money on developing their content marketing strategy and building a larger social presence.
2014 was the year 'Hacking,' 'Privacy,' and 'Cyber Attacks' entered the public lexicon as 'private' social networks found themselves under constant assault from digital activists. 'Snapchat,' 'Secrets' and 'Yik Yak' et al were some of the biggest victims of these hacking sprees, but their success (if more through concept than execution) suggests that the desire for online anonymity is greater than ever.
Never slow on the uptake, the Zuckerberg empire has already latched onto this growing user need for identity protection when it launched 'Rooms' in October of last year. 'Rooms' is an iPhone app that allows for the creation of chat rooms without the need to enter a name, date of birth or any other personal titbits. Though this Facebook brainchild hasn't exactly taken off just yet, it certainly shows that anonymity features heavily on the mind of the industries best and brightest.
The biggest challenge for platforms preaching namelessness as a way of differentiating themselves, is building trust with a suspicious market who will approach these networks with caution following predecessors' leaks of sensitive information. Whoever can do this first will soon be rising up the social media hierarchal table.
Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and G+ may not be being joined at the social media top table just yet, but niche networks are constantly making threats to at least pull up a chair. 2014 was a great year for visual networks with Pinterest, Vine and Instagram all seeing impressive growth as they continue to distance themselves from the offerings of the elite.
Who's going to come to the fore in 2015 though? At the moment there appears to be little for Zuckerberg inc. to worry about with few emerging networks promising to bring in anywhere near the number of users needed to make an impact on the industry. Messaging apps seem to be the only ones making any noise with WeChat and Line in particular sharing 638 million users between them.
And whatever happened to Ello? Well much was made of the anti-Facebook hero towards the end of last year, but it appears the ad-less network is quickly learning that you can't take on Facebook.by trying to be Facebook. Users are dwindling by the day and despite recently introducing a music and video share tool, we'll soon be waving goodbye to Ello.
Facebook at work
The worst kept secret in social media, Facebook at Work has finally been released and more are set to follow as 'business' seems to be the word for 2015.
Due to the success of LinkedIn, Facebook has long been flirting with a professional venture and on the 14th of January, it launched 'Facebook at Work.' This corporate platform effectively acts as a company intranet whereby employees can organise meetings, send messages and have group chats. It will look and behave like your typical Facebook feed but statuses will only be visible to other co-workers. The platform is still in it's very early days and how Facebook tries to monetise it is undecided with one of it's current appeals being it's ad-free stance.
A social media intranet isn't a new idea with Facebook at Work set to compete with the already established 'Socialcast,' 'Slack' and Microsoft's very own 'Yammer.' LinkedIn is also keen not to be outdone in its specialist field and recently announced that it's developing a similar service. It seems that business really is big business for the social networks.
Social media is an unpredictable field and 2015 promises to provide marketers just as many headaches as they continue to try and foresee the unforeseeable. The one constant that shows no signs of letting up though is the key role blogging plays in raising the profiles of SMEs and experienced online practitioners alike. Content is (and probably always will be) king and social media remains arguably a marketers most valuable tool of pushing out QUALITY content and building their brand voice.