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Where is social media marketing heading in 2015?

Social Media has been the only constant, linking the worlds of Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 – and is still going strong. The year 2014 saw a lot of action in the social media marketing space – from ubiquitous Analytics tabs across all social networks to better monetizable features. What does the year 2015 have in store for social media marketing? How will better data handling technologies and newer decision science tools revolutionize the landscape of social media marketing? Let us have a quick look into the top 5 trends for the coming year.

Social Media RoI/Impact will become more accurately measurable

For a long time now, social media has been nothing short of a magic black box, whose working and inherent response characteristics were a mystery to both the marketer and the end user. This gave way to a host of social media ‘gurus’ claiming to come up with a panacea to predict effectiveness or the RoI of social media investment. But now, almost all the major social media platforms have their own analytics offerings, with some in their incipient/beta stages.  These analytical offerings provide a detailed set of performance metrics at a satisfactory granularity.

Bottom line: The increasing availability of such tangible performance metrics across platforms is going to make quantifying RoI/ overall impact very realistic.

  • Video and dynamic content will have a greater impact on social media consumption

If there’s one thing to learn from this past year, it is that a captivating small video or an interesting infographic is going to catch much more eyeballs than a staid paragraph with a lot of verbose content – vide – Upworthy, ThoughtCatalog. With the increased use of smart phones and other mobile devices capable of high-end video content viewing, it is evident that multimedia content will get higher likes, shares and overall engagement. Pinterest’s popularity is a very relevant example for multimedia marketing

Bottom line: Creation of interactive/informative videos and images is going to enhance user engagement across social media platforms.

  • Multi-screen and multi-platform marketing will become inevitable

Newer ways of accessing social media has changed the way marketers perceive the impact an ad would have on a potential user. It is no longer sufficient to just target your audience with the right set of ads, but also understand when and where to target them. For a predominant mobile user of social media, it makes more sense to target them in the early morning or late evening non-office hours, assuming they are at work otherwise. It will also become important to design a cross-platform framework that tracks the user across platforms and targets them wisely.

Bottom line: The best way to drive fidelity from a user and engage customers better is through a multi-channel, multi-screen intervention rather than the previously used monogamous ‘one channel – one screen – one user approach.

  • Identification of relevant networks for different audiences will become critical

Social media, has for some time been a one/two horse race with majority of the investment in a few platforms. But this ‘all-eggs-in-one-basket’ will prove detrimental to overall impact, unless the right set of social platforms are targeted for the right audience. There is no doubt that the industry big wigs like Facebook and Twitter would still be the crowd pullers, but if you cater to a niche audience, you need to tap the right platform – e.g. Instagram/Tumblr for tweenagers and teenagers, LinkedIn for professionals, Snapchat for the college kids and so on.

Bottom line: Just identifying the target demographic won’t be sufficient. Understanding which platform your target demographic is going to dominate will become more relevant.

  • Automated Social Media Listening centers will become a mainstay in reality

Listening centers sounds more like an Orwellian nightmare. However, used in the right context with a strict set of privacy controls, will help listen to the audience on real-time basis. Sentiment analysis of the user opinions and product reviews will become mainstream to help identify specific aspects that are of concern/jubilation. It is time for long drawn primary surveys and unreliable sample sizes to take a second place. New age social media listening centers will be made feasible, thanks to a host of well-designed cost-effective solutions that are cropping up in the market.

Bottom line: Social media listening centers are already a reality, but only at highly tech-savvy and investment-heavy places. In the coming year, though, everyone will have one of their own making.

The above predictions shall hold true and even exceed expectations. But they need the right set of precautions – transparent and straightforward privacy controls and a well-oiled data collation and analyzing mechanism. As has been predicted, digital spend will overtake conventional media spending in the coming year and social media budget is going to take the lion’s share of that enhanced budget, ergo making awareness of new trends absolutely necessary. 

 By Kshira Saagar, Manager at Mu Sigma.