Report of 2014 Top 10 Social Media Stars, RIPs, Rebounds & Marginals


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Report of key trends leading to social media dynamics to consider for 2014 planning. Topics include content marketing and social media impacts on strategy, user experience, technology and enterprise models.

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Report of 2014 Top 10 Social Media Stars, RIPs, Rebounds & Marginals

  1. 1. Market Report 2014 Social Media Predictions Top 10 Stars, RIPs, Rebounds & Marginals Dr. Jim Barry 01/12/14
  2. 2. Underlying Trends 2 Top 10 Rising Stars 8 Top 10 RIPs 12 Top 10 Rebounds 16 Top 10 Marginals 21 Summary 26 TABLE OF CONTENTS 2
  3. 3. 2014 SOCIAL MEDIA PREDICTIONS 1 Year of the Oxymoron In summary, brands should focus on building lasting, but ephemeral relationships using outbound techniques for inbound marketing in an anonymous, but highly personal media. What’s wrong with this picture? - Social Content Marketing 2014 Social Media Predictions Wrapped Up in 13 Oxymorons “ ”
  4. 4. Underlying Trends As the list of 2014 social media and content marketing predictions winds to a close, what can organizations really take to the bank this year? Let’s start with an overarching dynamic that most would agree characterizes 2014. We hear terms like the age of advocacy, infobesity or experience marketing, as well as a year of audience, laser focused granularity, brand evangelism and content purpose. Others describe 2014 as the year content marketing goes mainstream. As Robert Rose puts it “…we step on the gas…” Marketing folks get serious in acquiring an intuitive social mindset backed by meaningful social proof and hyper-targeted brand relationships. It’s also the year when e-Commerce really grabs onto content marketing and CMOs finally hunker down on proven social initiatives. If not convinced, consider that online sales topped $1 trillion worldwide last year. So what can we expect in this new era of hyper-targeting and more profitable social engagement? Before diving into what media, marketing concepts or shiny new objects are likely to materialize, let’s first consider the dynamics shaping the bulk of 2014 predictions among leading social media practitioners. 2
  5. 5. Underlying Trends Key Dynamics Shaping 2014 Social ROI & Predictive Analytics As companies get serious about content marketing in their 2014 plans, many agree that social ROI will be more demanded than ever. Some have gone as far as to say that 2014 is a moment of truth for proving the value of content and social marketing. And with the rise in social pay-per-click, as well as big data analytics now available from cloud- based data bases, social ROI estimates are getting more precise and reliable. This is leading many brands to invest in some brand-specific ROI studies and turn to performance data to ensure that their content does not fall on deaf ears. But besides ROI, this year will likely see a surge in social data mining as big players (Apple, Google, Facebook, etc.) start to leverage social signals and intentions for predictive analytics. Platform Specific Content Marketers have taken serious steps toward customizing content to particular platforms. Recognizing better how communities vary in their expectations, CMOs are now putting more attention into repurposing content to fit a platform’s preferred format (e.g., gifs, videos, short- posts, etc.). In theory, those that provide a seamless, user-oriented experience with timely helpful advice will be credited with more brand advocacy. Content marketers are also redirecting content based on whether platforms contribute more to impressions and clicks or to deeper engagement and greater conversions. . PLATFORM DYNAMICS 3
  6. 6. Underlying Trends Context Marketing That context is king will really take hold in 2014. As anticipatory computing and SoLoMo (Social, Local, Mobile) technologies find out what you are doing, where you are and what you need, marketers will be capitalizing on these insights to target you with a real-time relevant response. And hopefully it doesn’t come off like personal advice from a nearby stalker. In their book, “Age of Context,” Scoble and Israel provide a convincing big picture of how more pinpointed marketing approach will emerge from seeing the customer in context. Content Curation With the high demands placed on content marketing, we might very well see the convergence in content creation and curation predicted by Curata. Their Content Marketing Tactics Survey indicates a significant shift in 2014 by marketers to make greater use of curation as part of creation activities. According to Michael Gerard, “The new mix will be 65% created, 25% curated and 10% syndicated content; and the line between created versus curated will continue to blur.” Micro-Content & Infobesity Expect an avalanche of micro-content as consumers are bombarded with content. The mass maturation of short-form video (e.g., Twitter Vine, Instagram, SnapChat, Tumblr, etc.), imagery and posts primarily stems from the explosion in mobile devices. But its continued growth will be spurred by the success of micro-aggregators (e.g., BuzzFeed) suggesting to brands that brevity is the key to attention. . STRATEGY DYNAMICS 4
  7. 7. Underlying Trends With the vast amount of digital noise, marketers in 2014 will truly witness their audience’s social fatigue. Twitter feeds, inboxes and new post alerts will cause many to seek niche specific platforms as well as micro-content. Seeking to separate themselves from the clutter, brands will lower their volumes on audience reach while raising the volume on qualified prospects. Social Business Another likely consequence of content marketing going mainstream is the formalizing of social businesses that promote: • Employee advocacy (everyone wears a content marketing hat) • Social customer service • Enterprise-wide social standards • CMO oversight In particular, forecasters are expecting 2014 to be the year that social business really emerges as a business function, and content becomes its own department. Social Pay-for-Play Does anyone remember Gomer Pyle’s infamous “surprise, surprise, surprise?” Most of us knew it was only a matter of time before stakeholders in Facebook, Twitter and Google+ expected their darlings to monetize. Earning your way into newsfeeds will take more than organic approaches. If you expect to reach the attention of your fans, you had better pull out your wallet. . 5 BUSINESS DYNAMICS
  8. 8. Social Influence Rewarding This may also be the year we see brands courting influencers more than before. Recognizing the power of brand evangelism, brands will be anxious to reward celebrities and other popular influencers. Expect greater attention to be given to social influence scoring (e.g., Klout score) as well as compensation for those whose audiences trust their authority. Mobile Friendliness With global mobile traffic likely reaching 15% of total media consumption and the number of smartphone users topping 1.4 billion by the end of 2014, mobile will be the first screen for a majority of people users. Yet, according to Adobe, nearly half of businesses do not have a mobile- friendly website. At minimum, users will expect to get the same brand experiences on their smaller screens that they have on their desktops. This will likely translate to even more micro- videos, a preferred media format for mobile users. Real-Time Marketing Real-time marketing will likely become the talk in many CMO sessions as companies realize how participating in conversations far outweighs their sending content when their schedule permits. As brand campaigns like Oreo’s “You Can Still Dunk In The Dark” and WestJet’s “Christmas Miracle” discover the high impact from engaging fans in real-time, expect others to capitalize. Leading the way will be the many real-time native apps that provide emergency advice (e.g., Charmins Sit or Squat app, Clorox’s MyStain app, etc.). . Underlying Trends 6 SOCIAL DYNAMICS
  9. 9. Top 10 Rising Stars 7
  10. 10. Top 10 Rising Stars #1: Ephemeral Media If there was a bolt from the blue to pick among 2013 shiny new objects, Snapchat would get most votes. In less than 3 years, the social media company has reached an audience of more than 100 million users. Its early success as an “erasable media” attests to the demand for apps that limit the time exposure of posted images. The appeal of erasability especially suits those sensitive to their exposing a regretted photo left in someone’s archives. 2014 Prediction: Continued Exponential Growth Given their rejection of $multi-billion offers from Facebook and Google as well as its appeal to Millennials, a safe prediction is that Snapchat lives up to the analyst predictions that its future will be long-lasting.  #2: Photo & Imagery Based Sites The percentage year-to-year growth of image-based networks services like Pinterest, Tumblr and Instagram, as well as slide-based service (e.g., Slideshare), are testimony to consumers preferring visual content. The trend towards curated content will also favor photo-rich sites. 2014 Prediction: Continued Rapid Growth With the higher search and engagement results seen from imagery as opposed to text, expect content in 2014 to be even heavier on infographics, slides and photos.  #3: Self-Help Native Apps In his book, Youtility, Jay Baer demonstrates how brands see the move toward mobile “self- help” apps as a way to engage in Friend-of-Mine marketing. Imagine having an app at hand that helps you diagnose garden weeds, remove stains, tie a boat knot, get dinner suggestions or find a clean restroom in real-time. Would you give credit to My Scotts Lawn App, Clorox’s MyStain App, Charmin’s SitOrSquat App and Columbia’s iPhone Knot App?” 2014 Prediction: Continued Rapid Growth According to Gartner, “25 percent of enterprises will have an Enterprise App Store by 2017.” And the $10 billion self-help industry shows no signs of slowing. Coupled with the sky rocketing growth of smartphone shoppers, these developments suggest that self-help apps should stay the course.  8
  11. 11. Top 10 Rising Stars #4: Micro Video Sharing Sites With the growing popularity of 6 second Twitter Vine and 3-15 second Instagram videos, real- time video sharing has become a reality. More brands are embrace these short videos as fast, affordable and practical ways to tell their brand story. Others see it as a new form of instructional video. 2014 Prediction: Gains More Ground What likely delayed the accelerated growth of micro-videos is its still questionable applicability in social content circles. With the growing expectation for real-time video, brands who can deliver a "get it now" social and customer service experience, however, will likely gain ground in 2014.  #5: Cloud-Based CMS Candidacy for Top 10: Solid As brands struggle to organize their content marketing efforts, working off a single platform will be paramount. This year, we will likely witness a greater consolidation of end-to-end content marketing system (CMS) platforms that simplify the process of brand communications. 2014 Prediction: Steady Adoption With big data moving to the cloud, expect 2014 to be the year where brands embrace cloud- based CMS. Many will recognize the advantages of the cloud in scaling their content marketing involvement.  #6: User Generated Content By now, brands have realized in a big way the impact of embracing fandom. As a result, more of the conversation will be about a community’s fans. 2014 Prediction: Serious Adoption As the expectation builds among community followers that fans control the conversation, expect more brands in 2014 to empower their fans with their own storytelling.  9
  12. 12. Top 10 Rising Stars #7: Visual Storytelling Engagement The rapid rise of Instagram did more than attract fans to a new world of imagery. Marketers are finding new ways to tell their brand stories with these micro-videos while connecting more persuasively to their audiences. In his book “Epic Content Marketing,” Joe Pulizzi leaves us with many examples (e.g., Red Bull) where “telling a story to the right person at the right time always cuts through the clutter.” (p. 15). 2014 Prediction: Shift towards Greater Adoption With the mainstream arrival of short-form video, many are predicting a shift towards greater visual storytelling this year.  #8: Mobile Commerce 2013 Black Fridays convinced almost every brand that users regularly buy from their phones. According to Google, 84% of smartphone shoppers use their phones while shopping. And an increasing number of them are using it for shopping assistance (e.g., price comparisons or doing further research on a product while they are in the store). 2014 Prediction: Mainstream Adoption As more marketers target their audiences with contextual offers, expect a greater number of mobile users to handle their check-outs with shopping apps and LBS type services.  #9: Search via Author Rank, Hashtags & Lifestyles Despite what we may not know about Google’s search engine plans, one thing is certain: their search algorithm is crediting quality authors who appear expert in their field. Even the Google+ hashtags themselves are helping to categorize writers. Along with hashtagging used on other networks, expert brands to focus more on tag topic contributions than keyword monopolizing. 2014 Prediction: Gains More Ground With Hummingbird and other likely algorithm changes, search will be a more semantic challenge to brands attempting to expose their content. Expect brands to struggle with measuring and applying a more lifestyle-oriented search process. Despite these challenges, however, brands will see this search process change as a more legitimate way to separate high quality content from the clutter of black-hat SEO spammers.  10
  13. 13. Top 10 Rising Stars #10: Social Network Aggregation With the pace of infobesity as it is, audiences will expect brands to curate, and not just create, content. Aggregators and smart news feeders can be expected to capitalize on audience profile data and behaviorally tracked preferences to better aggregate micro-content for their targeted audiences. 2014 Prediction: Mainstream Adoption Pinterest, in particular, will likely gain more ground as an aggregator as brands see its value in visual storyboarding. Brands will likely recognize how these pictorial-based curators will make the lives of working professional audiences more efficient.  1. Ephemeral Media 2. Photo & Video Sharing Sites 3. Self-Help Native Apps 4. Cloud Based CMS 5. Micro-Video Sharing 6. User Generated Content 7. Visual Storytelling Engagement 8. Mobile Commerce 9. Search via Author Rank, Hashtags & Lifestyles 10. Social Network Aggregation 11
  14. 14. Top 10 RIPs 12
  15. 15. Top 10 RIPs #1: Cold Calling for Any Industry You may wonder why this wasn’t put to rest 5 years ago because prospects can research so much before ever contacting a company. But up until the last few years, cold calling arguably had its place in some industries. What likely puts the nail in the coffin are the roughly 1.6 billion users now regularly on at least one social media site. Add to that the over 1 million apps that can be easily downloaded – a large portion of which are used for self-help or test trials – and we have to ask what is missing that cannot be addressed by inbound marketing (i.e., no cold calling period). I believe Jeffrey Gitomer, New York Times Best Selling Author, said it best: "Over 80% of decision makers absolutely will not buy from a cold call…But despite this hard truth, most salespeople today continue to waste valuable time and effort cold calling, usually because they don't know what else to do. Cold calling is all they've been taught.” The argument that some industries still require ‘proactive helpfulness’ no longer fits the mold of a user whose mobile device gives them instant advice from peers they trust. As real-time marketing is embraced by brands, more helpful answers will be provided exactly when needed. A trustworthy trail of blogs, webinars and eBooks can be used to qualify suppliers; and endorsements can be authenticated from your trusted connections. So what could possibly be left to justify a cold call that well aligned content, test trail apps and social media testimonies cannot handle up to the point where a prospect makes the first call?  #2: Digital Ad Agency Networks As brands see the richer consumer behavior insights required for personalized advertising, they can be expected to migrate away from ad agency networks to social media platforms. At question is the overhead consumed by agencies, whose value-add is diminishing. Coupled with the long-standing concern of agencies having too much campaign control, more brands will prefer ad platforms over agency buying models.  #3: Black Hat SEO Agencies To the delight of many content marketers losing their share of search results to keyword stuffers, Google’s latest approach to search engine optimization will level the playing field for those producing good, useful content. Those whose primary goal is to stuff their pages with SEO-friendly keywords (e.g., Black-Hat Keyword Stuffers and SEO Linkers) will likely find themselves penalized more than benefitting from crafty keyword usage. Hummingbird, Google’s latest update, is shifting the focus away from keywords and towards intents and semantics. i.e., their search algorithm will consider location, social connections and previous searches as opposed to searching solely on keyword queries. In effect, keywords may actually take a backseat to sentiment.  13
  16. 16. Top 10 RIPs #4: B2B and B2C Marketing This argument has continued for some time. The bases for saying B2B and B2C have died in favor of People-to-People (P2P) Marketing is that a firm has lost its place in a world where people have their smartphones and computing power with them everywhere. i.e., Work and life are blending under a social media framework. Add to that a growing body of evidence suggesting that business decision are largely based on emotion, and we could easily conclude that P2P marketing will emerge from the ubiquity of social media marketing. As stated by Rick Segal in his Forbes article, “The customer is not a corporate entity, but an independently minded, highly connected, always-emotional human being.” As a result, who you know, like and trust (person-to-person) will override bid credentials in the B2B case or high powered consumer tactics in the B2C case.  #5: Contextual Advertising With the growth in popularity and feasibility for delivering, hyper-targeted ads, advertising based on a “content-for-content” match of ads with viewed topics will likely fade away. Instead, richer social mobile, location (SoLoMo) and behavioral data will allow for ads to be retargeted. This replaces a content-for-content match with an ad that instead reflects what the user expects at a given time, place and shopping circumstance. i.e., content now matches a target’s real-time circumstances regardless of the content that are viewing at the moment.  #6: Personalized Website Dashboard The final nail in this coffin comes from the closure of iGoogle. Google’s reason for terminating their personal start page has much to do with capability of today’s Chrome and Android-based apps that put personalized, real-time information into a mobile dashboard. Coupled with the growing use of personalized news feeds, curated content and other gadgets (e.g., weather, sports, mail, etc.) in social networks, the need for iGoogle and alternative dashboards (igHome, My Yahoo, Netvibes, MyMSN, etc.) has arguably eroded over time.  #7: Facebook Organic Reach According to social media expert, Dave Kerpan, “social media will increasingly become a pay-to- play channel.” Since Facebook has changed its news feed algorithm, getting fan attention organically will become all the more difficult. This will pressure brands to pay-to-play to sponsor their posts. Expect the same adoption of pay-to-play by other social networks as they face their own pressure to monetize.  14
  17. 17. Top 10 RIPs #8: Social Media Managers According to Hootsuite CEO, Ryan Holmes, the growth in social media manager positions slowed to 50 percent in 2013. This follows exponential growth in prior years. Instead, brands are looking for content marketing experts and social media evangelists. More importantly, we are seeing the initial stages of social business where everyone wears a social media hat. This follows the migration years ago from strategic planning positions to “everyone is a strategic planner.” So expect more social media functions to be instead written into traditional organizational job descriptions.  #9: Those Not on Google+ Hardly a 2014 prediction of social media goes by without at least one expert highlighting the growing importance of being on Google+. With 343-million active users, it has become the second largest social network globally. By using the platform to gain personal information (e.g., location, demographics, etc.), it is providing a more personalized search experience. Add to that the importance of Google Authorship to search results and + Brand pages in the right hand column, and you can see why Google+ will easily win the ROI value comparison.  #10: Bosses That Don’t Tweet 2014 will likely see the serious adoption of social business. And with that comes more transparency from business leaders. Consumers and buyers will expect to see, or least hear from, a human on their social channels. And if that means the boss, he/she will have little excuse for not engaging. And no longer can CEOs and other executives count on PR, legal and other surrogates to represent their voice. Too many leaders have already set the stage for “open door means regular tweeting.” And few bosses could insist on their subordinates boosting their followers unless they witness their own success in tweeting.  15
  18. 18. Top 10 Rebounders 16
  19. 19. Top 10 Rebounds With the growing popularity of content marketing, it is easy to prematurely dismiss traditional marketing approaches as being obsolete when, in fact, many traditional approaches are coming back due to social media. We are finding ample evidence that TV benefits greatly from social media (e.g., social TV). Email has resurrected from social media (e.g., socially integrated email for precision content marketing). And media formats like podcasting and print magazines are seeing a rebirth as content marketing burnouts seek outlets on the treadmill, in the car, or on the couch. #1: Backchannels for Screen Social TV Contrary to popular opinion, the internet did not kill TV. The use of mobile phones and tablets have actually enhanced the television experience, to the point where Americans are watching more television than ever before. Some research shows that at least 40% of tablet or smartphone owners are using their devices daily while they’re watching TV. As a result, the worldwide market for Social TV is expected to reach $250 billion by 2017. That is the same amount spent worldwide today on all television advertising. What is creating this marriage between social media – Twitter in particular - and TV is the role that back channels or second screens play in engaging TV viewers on the web. i.e., Viewers of TV program content (including ads) are sharing their insights with their social communities. TV advertisers now see a gold mine of opportunities stemming from this “social lift” in the form of social voting, better targeted ads and post-view content sharing.  #2: Permission-Based Email Marketing for Sales Nurturing & Subscription-Based Growth As noted by Brennan Carlson, SVP of Product & Strategy at Lyris, “…2013 marked the advent of an email marketing renaissance with consumers choosing email as their preferred channel for brand interaction. In 2014, marketers will adjust their budget and resources accordingly.” Many doubted the revitalization of email marketing until the social web and inbound marketing concepts convinced us that email and social media work hand-in-hand in sales nurturing. Now add to this Email 2.0 trend the growing intention of brands that will increasingly focus on subscription-based marketing. Then add the explosive growth of smartphones used by a majority of executives to access their emails, and it should be no surprise that 47% of B2B marketers plan to increase their email marketing spend in 2014. Furthermore, 77% of consumers now prefer to receive permission-based marketing communications through email.  17
  20. 20. Top 10 Rebounds #3: Location Based Services Transformed to SoLoMo The quick start and over hype over Foursquare, Gowalla and other geo-social apps may have left many concluding that Location-Based Services were a flash in the pan. But as Sharn Kandola explains, “technology is at a point where we can see how consumers behave at that pivotal moment when they are ready to make purchasing decisions.” This will especially bode well for shoppable storefronts and the more traditional retail landscape. And with a growth in LBS usage, expect far more location-based ads (i.e., advertising targeted to your current location) as well. Many attribute this renewed interest to social plus location plus mobile (SoLoMo). More than likely, the original LBS model lost its luster as a result of far too little contextual content (worked off spatial data only) and far too much game-oriented appeal. In a nutshell, the original technology lacked context surrounding the target audience’s shopping histories, app behaviors and social profiles. Add to that the sparse data bases and limited number of niche audiences on LBS, and we could quickly conclude the time was not ripe for roll-out. Now with the incorporation of geo-location data in mainstream social networks and more robust spatial analytics, this should change. In particular, start to take notice of how iBeacons and more in-store WiFi will soon provide for a more enriched in-store shopping experience. Then consider how Hadoop-like systems and other smart data solutions will start to marry geo-fencing data with consumer events and behaviors. This this will give us far more robust and predictive analytics. So instead of LBS being used simply to reward “mayor badges,” we will see the makings of a platform for ads that are more relevant to consumers buying needs than in the past.  #4: Display/PPC Ads Moving to Native & Retargeted Without a doubt, display ads lost their touch in banner advertising and pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns. But the revenue spent in ads will likely continue at its fast pace. Social ads will climb as Facebook’s organic reach fizzles out. And expect many PPC campaigns to include ads for content. Instead, according to Walter Knapp, COO of Federated Media, “…in 2014 we’ll start seeing increasingly intelligent ad placement across all types of media…” What will undoubtedly change is the context of advertising. 2014 will likely by the year we see the following: 1. More native ads where the ad is disguised as editorial content 2. More advertising in content feeds 3. Advertorial 2.0 as a major part of the social media marketing mix 4. Ads retargeted in accordance with tracked app behaviors and audience location 5. Engagement ads for increased interaction 6. Cost-per-action metrics for performance-based advertising (i.e., advertising in which the purchaser pays only when there are measurable results)  18
  21. 21. Top 10 Rebounds #5: Podcasting 2.0 Another surprising turnaround involves podcasting. What seemed cool four years ago seemed to have become obsolete as more video rich and sexier social media platforms took the limelight. And now that smartphones serve as a podcast receiver, it’s not surprising that one billion podcasts subscriptions are now in the iTunes library. In an interview last October, Michael Stelzner stated “I believe that we are in an inflection point with podcasting... 24% are planning on doing podcasting this year compared to only 5% the year before.” He and Jeff Bullas attribute this growth to the rapid adoption of smartphones and an ITunes media portal for easily downloading podcasts. i.e., faster data transfer rates that no longer require clumsy iPod-to-desktop syncing. Add to this the fact that components are inexpensive, and software makes podcasting as easy as posting on blogs. But what arguably has resurrected its popularity is the time slot and application it fills in a content strategy. E.g., Podcasts offer a persona-engagement exercise in long-form that offers an educational substitute to music when in your car or on the treadmill.  #6: LinkedIn Makeover from Influencer/Pulse/Slideshare Hats off to LinkedIn as they revitalized their purpose and usability. Using pulse and other tools put them ahead of the game in newsfeed aggregation as well as in curating content from those most likely to influence our professional interests. But more importantly, its 2012 acquisition of Slideshare is paying off. The one-time slide-hosting service has become a full-fledged social network in its own right.  #7: Cookies Technologies Turns to Fingerprinting Many are claiming the death of cookies, the digital code stored on our browsers, is greatly exaggerated. Its demise is attributed mainly to any inability to work with television on second screen setups and across different devices. The growing number of users setting their browsers to reject cookies, along with their limitation on mobile - the future of content - will certainly put the future of cookies technologies in question. This bodes well for the privacy advocates who have been aggressively trying to kill the cookie. But many may not realize how its potential replacement, fingerprinting, could be even creepier. Fingerprinting techniques look at the characteristics of a computer (e.g., plugins, installed software, screen size, time zone, fonts, etc.) to form a unique identity of us much like that of a fingerprint. And with the big push towards capitalizing on smart data retrieval, expect cookies technologies to eventually disappear.  19
  22. 22. Top 10 Rebounds #8: SmallBiz Websites Move to CMS & Social Assets With apps and social assets essentially eliminating the need for small business websites, an argument develops that websites will disappear outside of their use for larger operation portals. By their very nature, websites were originally designed for surfing, not for answering user queries. At the same time, apps and social networks have begun to fill much of the service information, shopping carts, company background, prices, location and company background information that justified the need for a corporate website. So what’s left? Arguably, the rest should include content useful to the audience. So replace the traditional website with a content management system like WordPress, and we now have a far better presence for engaging and delighting the search engines. As companies grow, cloud services conceivably offer better ways to scale the adoption of internal functions and CRM. This essentially leaves a website as an unnecessary shell. But considering the growing concerns with social networking sites owning our platforms, it’s difficult to imagine organizations relinquishing control of their corporate presence to third party apps and social networks. At minimum, a home page would provide backup as well as a stationary validation of a company’s reputation.  #9: Article Marketing Transforms to Guest Blogging The days of posting articles on and are slipping away in favor of more SEO promising content. Even articles that at one time garnered heavy syndication are disappearing from Google's index. And expect this to continue as these non-indexed copies generate little SEO value. But the disappearance of article posting from search results should not impact the demand for REMARKable content. It simply shifts the distribution scheme to that of guest blogging. The social signals and potential high traffic link-backs overcome Google’s resistance to article content syndication.  #10: Infographics Transform to Visual Stories Infographics have undoubtedly surfaced as an essential element of content marketing in recent years as they prove to be easily sharable and have great potential to go viral on Pinterest and other sites. No doubt, their overuse destroyed its initial novelty and hype. Too much data and not enough story turned a lot of infographics into a repurposed content afterthought. But as stated by Ross Crooks, Co-founder and Creative Director of Column Five, “We are witnessing the death of the novelty of infographics but not a decline in their value.” The problem according to Brain Solis is that “most infographics are no more than visual press releases with graphical elements tied to way too much information.” He instead encourages a visual story wrapped around a current event that sparks conversations around a well-organized point of view.  20
  23. 23. Top 10 Marginals 21
  24. 24. Top 10 Marginals #1: Direct Mail Returns at Least for Now The imminent demise of direct mail is another example of predictions made from the aftermath of social media dominance. But like television and email, direct mail has resurrected itself, in large part, because of social media. According to Tod Cordill, Integrated Marketing Specialist, “There is so much noise on social media that it is really hard to stand out. So look for more and more traditional marketing techniques being focused on standing out from the crowd and driving prospects to online marketing. In fact, non-catalog direct mail marketing has been growing over the last several years and is now at or above 2006 levels. Catalogs are growing but still lagging earlier levels. At one end, we see QR codes, personalized URLs, and links to social media leading recipients online. At the other, we see companies like IKEA and Costco adding augmented reality content to their catalogs.”  #2: Yahoo/Tumblr With the acquisition of Tumblr, a refugee hangout for Millenials fleeing their parents now on Facebook, many believe Yahoo could turn around its seemingly bleak future. But it remains to be seen how the “light-on-ads” social blogging platform feels about the web portal’s penchant for advertising. More concerning is Yahoo’s mindset. Should they go all out in monetizing, as opposed to the way Google gently handled its YouTube integration, Yahoo could really turn off its Tumblr target audience. But a reality is that Yahoo still maintains 800 million users a month even topping Google in traffic last May. At question will be how well Marissa Mayer’s leadership will leverage its Yahoo’s impressive ad platform analytics to lead the charge for Tumblr’s presence in a more mobile and personalized 2014.  #3: Facebook f-Commerce Now several years in the making, many predict Facebook will abandon its attempts at f- commerce. Its quick adoption of the shopping cart by florists and airline tickets seems to have lost its momentum. Some would attribute its imminent demise to an underestimation of the shopping cart mindset. Once believed to be the rival of Amazon, Facebook’s f-commerce was well positioned to rule the world in online shopping. But users seem more confident in hopping off-site to a more reputable commerce model. The shopping experience just doesn’t seem to fit the overall experience expected by a Facebook community. But given the deep pockets and already mounting pressures away from Facebook’s monetizing model (e.g., pay-to-play social advertising), don’t be surprised if the owners roll out an f-Commerce 2.0.  22
  25. 25. Top 10 Marginals #4: Myspace Last Ditch Music Media Foray Once a pioneer in social media, Myspace become the internet punch-line. But its recent purchase by Justin Timberlake and others gives it a glimmer of hope in a place where music artists can connect with their fans. Although it will never return as a social media giant, the niche oriented media shows some promise for a digital music audience. By capitalizing on a music and arts community, marketers may see Myspace as an opportunity to host more creative advertising options. The popularity of “behind-the-scenes” content with celebrities and a variety of custom experiences could actually breathe new life into Myspace assuming it reaches a critical mass among a younger, hip crowd.  #5: From Campaigns to Customer Controlled Conversations 2013 clearly saw the decline of marketing campaigns. Arguably, campaigns used primarily as a vehicle for measuring ROI have been superseded by a new model based more on continuous engagement. This would not imply the death of contests or other engaging event activities. It merely suggests that campaigns oriented around the generation and measurement of business results will likely disappear. Instead, improved solutions for calculating ROI and Return on Relationship from big data advances and other breakthroughs will reduce the pressure of hosting campaigns strictly for results measurement. Further, as content marketing strategies move more towards real-time and continuing relationship building, campaigns will not have a place. Instead, expect more attention on storytelling engagement and techniques that motivate customer controlled conversations.  #6: Cryptocurrencies Still in Question for Secure eCommerce There's a broad belief that “Bitcoin” might just be the virtual currency that leads the way for secure ecommerce. As one of a few cryptocurrencies in experiment today, it was created as an online payment network that bypasses the need for banking institutions, thereby sparing online merchants from interchange fees. The digital currency also acts as a currency hedge (e.g., gold standard) that removes fraud risk and wild currency fluctuations from global ecommerce transactions. Although many are predicting Bitcoin will help address a burgeoning mobile commerce demand, a number of issues still need to be resolved for it to widespread public acceptance. In question are the taxing uncertainties, some country regulatory concerns, and the value of the currency itself.  23
  26. 26. Top 10 Marginals #7: RSS Fading Away? The declining interest in RSS is no surprise given the lack of interactivity and a growing desire among brands to capture emails instead. The discontinuance of Google Reader is probably enough evidence to support a waning interest in RSS. Andrew Chen explains his RSS death claim in a single chart that shows its trending decline as a google search term. His explanation agrees with many that users have far better alternatives today for integrating their reading. And the lack of two-way interaction runs counter to brands that are now placing even more attention on tracking reader interests through their email response behaviors. What remains to be seen is whether RSS ultimately serves as a better curator of topic trends than is available from aggregators and email. For now, however, the future looks grim.  #8: PR Blends into Social Media Marketing Let’s face it, media channels created for online PR firms are typically arranged more for press broadcast than engagement. Brands today have more concern about real-time engagement and personalized communication with their clients than their extending reach to an “everybody” audience with a one-way megaphone. Some of the most mentioned reasons for the apparent “demise of PR” are the following. 1. Online reputation campaigns are going to pure play digital agencies 2. PR functions are spreading across enterprise employees and their social media ecosystems 3. Digital content marketing and social media channels are intrinsically designed to manage the PR function for reputation building and company news distribution In other words, some would argue that social media has crippled the PR industry. But if we look at the classic definition of PR as the communicating of messages across a firm and its publics, this could be no further from the truth. The role of PR, itself, is crucial to a successful social media presence if viewed in the following light: social media allows us to spread our messages and manage our brand conversations. Even the role of PR for crises control and reputation building is embedded in solid social media practices. Consider what a proactive PR response could have done to avoid United Airlines’ “breaks Guitars” debacle. Although tradition media channels for PR activities may be disappearing, the maturation of social media hasn’t killed the profession. It has merely made it easier for businesses to communicate with their publics. i.e., Social media has redefined the channels for communication as well as the process for managing communications.  24
  27. 27. Top 10 Marginals #9: Wearable Computer Technology Still on Test Drive Research firm ABI estimates the wearables market will hit $6 billion by 2018. But the recent allure of Apple iWatch, Samsung Galaxy Geosmart watches, Google Glass and other wearable devices may be fading, in part, because of its questionable fashion appeal. In his 2014 predictions, Leo Burnett says “Wearable technology was one of 2013’s big talking points but it is yet to be considered a must-have…Technology is not about gadgets; it’s about enhancing our capabilities.” And besides being used for fitness trackers, its real utility is still in doubt. This is supported by a Harris Interactive poll where nearly half of all those questioned believe wearable tech is just a fad. The survey results further suggest that the pricey technologies do not justify yet another smart device. Add to that the lack of mainstream manufacturer support, and users are left confused with its intention as well. But more optimistic forecasters are predicting that legacy platforms (e.g., Facebook) will adapt to, or even acquire, one of the star wearables in order to facilitate meaningful interactions.  #10: Print Magazines for Unplugged Audience No, print is not dead. In the wake of Newsweek’s and Smart Money’s demise, many have prematurely ruled out printing as a viable element in content strategies. While it is true that print magazines have declined dramatically in past years, the decline has bottomed out. In his book “Epic Content Marketing,” Joe Pulizzi states “…yes, marketers have stopped fleeing from the print channel.” Gone might be the days 7 day news, but many are re-embracing print as a way to unplug especially for niche oriented magazines. They still invite higher quality interviews than can be expected online. Audience development costs for print have also dropped dramatically as magazine publishers use their online subscriptions for mailing lists.  25
  28. 28. 26 About the Author Dr. Jim Barry, Founder, Social Content Marketing Fort Lauderdale, Florida Twitter @JimBarryJr LinkedIn @ drjamesbarry Email @ Top 10 Stars, RPIs, Rebounds & Marginals