2014: What’s hot in social?

So, it turns out the guy in our office some ten years ago who used to baffle us with talk of his ‘web log’ was actually on to something! Fast forward a decade and I recently found myself attending said ex-colleagues’ master class on social media. Having become something of a guru on all things social, Drew (Benvie, worth a follow on twitter @drewb), took us through what’s going to be hot in 2014.

The good news is, you don’t need to be a household brand with mega bucks for success. In fact, social media can be really cost-effective for smaller businesses. If you take the time to develop original, interesting content and box clever you can really punch above your weight.

Here are some of the hot social tips and tools we explored that might help your business:

Blog on: many businesses have already replaced the traditional ‘company news’ page with a blog page mixing news, opinion and comment, and more will do so in the near future. WordPress and Tumblr are both good options if your website is still under development but you want to start sharing content.

Tweet smart: twitter will still be big news this year. If you’re already tweeting, check out followerwonk.com, an amazingly easy to use website which gives you loads of stats about your followers and also who you follow. Fascinating stuff, for example you can see what time of day your followers are typically tweeting and a word map of what they tweet about – pretty useful when trying to decide what to blog about.

LinkedIn latest:  you may have noticed that LinkedIn has recently had a bit of a restyle – it’s now purposely designed to look more like an online magazine with its new Pulse news section. This means there is more opportunity to get your content noticed as the site seeks to fill its news pages. It’s worth revisiting your company page to increase followers and get them talking about your content.

Image is everything: photo and video are going to be hot in 2014. Apparantely, leading the way as ever, teenagers are leaving Facebook, preferring to use Instagram instead. Like the new twitter vine, you can also post videos on Instagram.  Business-wise, set up your own channel on Youtube where people naturally go for video, rather than creating your own channel. The new Google Helpouts is also worth a look. You can post a video offering help on a particular topic related to your business – or use it yourself to get business advice.

Affordable advertising: great news for smaller businesses, it’s now easy and affordable to do promoted or ‘paid for’ activity on both twitter and LinkedIn. On twitter you can chose to promote your account or your tweets, targeting people by location and what they’ve written in their profile for example. You can also set a daily limit of what you want to spend.

Of course before embarking on any communications activity social media or otherwise, the old school rules still apply. Have a strategy before you start. What’s your story? Who are your audience? Why should they listen? How can you keep them interested? From here you can get a content marketing plan in place and properly measure the impact of your efforts.

By Mel Beeby Clarke, Director, Ambitious PR & content marketing