It is impossible to imagine marketing and public relations without social media, although no other communication tool is changing as fast as these platforms. Companies have to keep pace with innovations in social media to utilize them optimally for their corporate communications.

Asian eMarketing is wishing you a good start of the year and is kick-starting the first issue in 2014 by conveniently providing you with a look at the social media trends for 2014 to arm you with what’s needed to succeed.

2014 will be the year of Google+

By now, Google+ has the second highest monthly number of users and counting, but the real reason why Google+ is extremely interesting for social media marketing are the many personal information Google stores. Thus, audience targeting with Google+ is much easier than with any other network. Besides that, Google+ plays an increasingly important role for SEOs and the interfacing of the platform to the search engine giant is of course impacting the increasing relevance of the network in 2014, as well.

In addition, Google+ offers many other interesting features for entrepreneurs, besides the Hangouts and the target group-oriented postings. Actually, a total of 18 new functions are planned for the network, including:

• a photo- and video editing program called Auto Awesome;

• new features that improve the Google+ Hangout on Air;

• Advanced Power Searching;

LinkedIn is growing

When socializing in business, it’s hard to ignore the largest social business network, LinkedIn, that will definitely even grow in importance this year. LinkedIn cements and defends its good starting position with innovations that bring significant benefits for B2B marketing, such as introducing new page statistics for enterprises. So, let’s see what kind of new features will be added in 2014. One thing is for sure: LinkedIn has many new things in the pipeline, just doesn’t publicly reveal yet the features the users can expect in 2014.

Document networks are stepping into the spotlight

In 2014, Slideshare, Scribd and Co. are gaining attention in public relations, as they allow companies to communicate their expertise with  technical papers, presentations and online press releases to inspire their audiences for their products and services. Another advantage is that search engines display documents networks prominently in the results list. Thus, target groups can find enterprises’ content particularly well on these platform so that most probably companies are increasingly recognizing the benefits of document networks for corporate communications this year.

Storytelling is more important in 2014 than ever

"If you can’t explain something, tell a story," is a prudent advice of the Italian writer Umberto Eco that applies today as much as it did back then. That's why storytelling is more important than ever in corporate communications in 2014. An exciting story can introduce current projects, core competencies or products to target groups better than hard-headed facts. Platforms such as Tumblr or Storify are particularly suited here, as users can create their content easily by using multimedia. Thus, it is no wonder that both networks gain many new users constantly. Proportional to these growth increases, the relevance of these platforms 2014 for corporate communications increase as well.

Images instead of text

"Pictures are saying more than 1000 words" seems to be the motto of Internet users in 2014 and image networks such as Pinterest, Tumblr, and Flickr are getting more relevant for corporate communications and play an increasingly important role in the future of social media marketing. Interestingly, the user demographics should significantly transform this year, according to Forbes, with more men on the image networks, which are currently still dominated by women.

Videos are gaining in popularity

Videos manage their final breakthrough in 2014, as audio-visual content got particularly popular among internet users. Therefore, companies will increasingly have to rely on video communication to inspire their audiences on the social web. Especially, micro-videos that run only for a few seconds are gaining momentum this year and start to get interesting for social media marketing, as we see both with Vine on Twitter and Instagram’s video feature that are pioneers in this area.

No abdication of social media

A presence for business on social media platforms is no longer just "nice to have" but an absolute must in 2014, as the benefits of Facebook, Twitter & Co. for corporate communications are simply enormous:

  • A corporate presence on social media reinforces the brand awareness and corporate image;
  • The personal presentation of the company fosters a sense of trust and confidence, and creates and supports customer loyalty.
  • Social signals (signals that provide information about social interactions) improve the findability of content in the search engines;
  • With social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Tumblr, companies create additional points of contact for their audiences that lead potential customers directly to the point of sale.

The more efforts company put into their social media presence, the higher the chance that their target audiences come across their products and services on the social web. Therefore, maintaining as many social media profiles as possible increases the chances enormously to reach the appropriate target group directly. Even if it costs a lot of time, it usually pays off.

Losers and fighters in the social media scene

Foursquare, Forbes predicts, won’t have a bright future. Although a lot of money is invested to bring Foursquare in position, it isn’t expected that the social network successfully penetrates the market. So, if Forbes is right, 2014 could be the end of Foursquare.

For all intends and purposes, however, MySpace has a chance. With the re-launch, the social network could gather good visibility, but will most probably never again play on a level with Facebook. However, additional features, such as a good iPhone app can secure MySpace a place in the extremely competitive market.

2014 could be called the year of “social acceptance”, as more marketers are committing budgets to paid social media advertising, and social media companies are offering a wider range of products and services with an eye on ROI.

By Daniela La Marca