4 Social Media Trends Already Shaping 2014 [INFOGRAPHIC]

As companies discover there’s more to social media marketing than merely maintaining a presence on Facebook and Twitter, it’s often a little daunting to think about how to expand efforts to take advantage of all the opportunities that a multi-spoked social strategy can offer.

A new infographic caught my eye initially because it led with what I believe are some of the most important tenets of social business. It’s titled Social Media Trends Shaping 2014, and lists seven trends. But after reading it, I noticed a couple of them dovetailed nicely into each other, so I took the liberty of narrowing the list down to four and adding my own commentary.

1. Social Listening

22% of marketers used social listening strategies in 2013, and 24% plan to listen on social media in 2014. But only 31% of marketers think that their current listening strategy is fully effective. The growth in this area continues to be sluggish, I believe, because of the amount of time that it takes to develop, implement, and keep a solid social listening strategy going. It isn’t something companies should take lightly, and it seems like a huge investment in hours to get that up and running.

By listening online, brands can be agile, and take advantage of marketing opportunities that arise in real-time. The best way to put together a social listening strategy is to sign up with a social listening software that not only has wide listening ability across the web, but a service offering that will help you strategize, knowing your specific business goals and objectives.It isn’t enough to have the tools at your disposal if you don’t have a clear-cut idea of how your listening relates to your overall business strategy.

2. Data-based Marketing

Number six and number three in the social infographic below both have to do with leveraging data to build better customer relationships. According to the infographic, data from social sites, campaigns, and other customer interactions is being used to engage audiences. It’s true, but looking at the numbers for social listening, there’s a lot of room for improvement.

The benefit isn’t just for the business, though. There’s two sides of this coin. Think of yourself as a consumer. Have you ever been excited to see something interesting right there in your news feed — or on the sidebar of a blog? (There’s the social advertising aspect: number two in the infographic.) When companies measure and react to their social data, users will receive content that is better targeted to their wants and needs. Businesses will be more effective if they use social and web-based data to figure out the what kind of content the user wants, where they want it, and when they understand the best times for delivery.

3. Integrating Social Media Company-Wide

The social media department isn’t the only place where social media should be used. In fact, your company shouldn’t have a social media department at all. The product development people should be monitoring the web and measuring social results for insight, the customer service team should be responding to customer concerns through social accounts, the HR people should be utilizing social tools to recruit and qualify top talent, and all of your marketing campaigns should have integrated social media components that will help amplify their reach and increase engagement.

Again, make sure you partner with a company that’s not only ready to fill your software needs, but also help you map out strategies for this. Here’s four case studies into company-wide social integration that may help get you started.

4. Visual-based Marketing

With this trend, I’m not talking solely about the rise of Pinterest and Instagram as effective marketing tools. Both Twitter and Facebook have redesigned the look and feel of their timelines recently to accommodate larger images. In fact, 77% of brand posts shared on Facebook are photos.

The right image can tell a story faster and more effectively than the biggest block of text, and that also goes for short video content. Adding a video to landing page can increase conversions by nearly 90%.

I guess I got on a roll there. After getting a little more in-depth into these concepts above, I feel like the infographic is now a bit extraneous, but here it is. If you have scrolled to the bottom of this blog because of the large block of text above (and I know you did, because #4), I urge to to start at the top and read through this real quick-like.

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