For the past few months there has been an increased rise in the number of “niche” social media platforms due perhaps to the heavy criticism networks leveled toward some of the popular social media platforms.
For example, Facebook has received some scrutiny recently regarding their lack of privacy and the priority that is given to advertisers. What many couldn’t have predicted last year was the emergence of a new social platform intended to go head-to-head with social media giant, Facebook. The platform, which is still in public beta (meaning invite-only), has caused quite a stir; dubbed by some as the ‘hipster social network’, Ello offers a forever ad-free experience and promises to never sell its users’ information to third parties. Their website states: “Collecting and selling your personal data, reading your posts to your friends, and mapping your social connections for profit is both creepy and unethical. Under the guise of offering a “free” service, users pay a high price in intrusive advertising and lack of privacy.”
It’s unclear at this point whether the extreme buzz around the platform is simply because of its positioning as the ‘anti-Facebook’, or whether it has the substance, design and functionality to actually become a serious competitor for Facebook. Engagement on the platform doesn’t seem to be high at this point, and some are pointing out the current weaknesses of the platform, including the lack of video-integration and meaningful conversation and engagement.
Regardless, Ello is likely to grow in 2015, both in terms of numbers and engagement, and many will be watching closely.
Speaking of Facebook, Facebook’s ad pricing and demand will significantly increase. It’s no secret that Facebook post reach is significantly decreasing, and has become a serious problem for business owners who are using the platform for marketing purposes. This steady decline in reach is what has been coined the Filtered Feed Problem. As Facebook continues to limit the number of posts page fans actually see, the demand for promoted posts and ads will continue to increase. And with this increased demand will come increased pricing.
Twitter’s new business advertising model will skyrocket in popularity. With Twitter’s move to offering businesses more choice and flexibility in how and what they pay for in terms of advertising, more small and medium-sized businesses will jump on the Twitter ad bandwagon. The new fee structure allows businesses to pay for certain performance-based actions rather than just retweets or clicks.
These objective-based campaigns, which are still currently in beta, will offer more flexibility including tweet engagements (retweets, replies, etc.), website clicks or conversions, app installs, new followers and leads. These campaigns will be particularly appealing to small business owners who want to pay for results, not just for brand visibility.
Instagram will also continue to grow in the micro-video space. With both Vine and Instagram vying for billing as the top video networking site, the platforms have continued to differentiate themselves from the other offering different features, video lengths and editing capabilities. However, I believe we’ll see Instagram begin to outpace Vine as we enter 2015.
And with the recent emergence of Instagram’s in-feed video advertising, marketers will now have the option of paying to target their 15-second videos to users based on age, gender and country. While some have called the new video ads incongruous, the new feature is a welcome addition for marketers looking to promote their wares to Instagram’s young, affluent user base.
LinkedIn has been the top network of choice for the B2B crowd for years already, and I believe we’ll see the gap between LinkedIn and other networks continue to widen in 2015.
While B2C marketers report LinkedIn as being significantly less important than Facebook or Twitter for their marketing efforts, the numbers are quite different for the B2B crowd: according to the 2014 Social Media Examiner survey, 88% of B2B marketers are using LinkedIn, compared to 89% for Facebook and 86% for Twitter.
In 2015, marketers will finally realize that there are two core pillars of a content marketing strategy: publication and distribution. Marketers will learn that social media is the most effective method of expanding the reach and visibility of their content, and because of this, will come to view social media as more of an “amplifier” for their published content rather than as the content itself.
So, while the content marketing buzz continues to pick up steam, marketers needs to remember that a distribution strategy for that content is just as important, if not more important, than the content itself.
Some things to look for in 2016: an increase in the use of podcasting, video social commerce and mobile marketing.