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By Jessica Oaks

A new year brings with it the hope of better things to come. The past year saw some radical developments in social media – witness the rise of Vine and Snapchat – and 2014 looks to promise more of the same. Below are some social media predictions for the coming year.

Investment in Social Media Experts Will Become a Necessity.

Currently, social media duties for many brands probably fall on the shoulders of one or more “tech-savvy, passionate” staff members whose main responsibilities cover other assigned roles. In 2014, we will likely see a shift as companies recognize the ever-growing importance and impact of social media and look to agencies that know the business of social media, not just its tools. In other words, brands will be looking to hire dedicated social media managers versus spreading social media duties across existing positions.

A Picture is Worth a 1000 Words.

We have been steadily moving away from the importance of text since the rise of the World Wide Web and the advent of social media. In 2014, we will see images and video take on an even greater importance in social engagement.

Short and Sweet.

The need for ever-shorter sound bites will continue to dominate social media. Brands will compete in seeing who can tell the shortest stories with the biggest impact.

Facebook.

Though Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg likened Facebook to electricity, a utility that sparked great interest at the time of its discovery before settling into the commonplace, 2013 saw a decline in teen use of Facebook, one of the flagship social media platforms. Will 2014 see the death of Facebook a la MySpace? Probably not. The user base is not likely to plummet their time spent Facebooking will probably decline.

The Niche Network.

Everybody has heard of Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. Not everyone has heard of such niche networks as Kaboodle, Library Thing, or Wiser. In 2014, the popularity of such niche networks will likely increase as marketers will attempt to reach out to those who share common interests.

User-generated Content.

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More brands will begin taking advantage of user-generated content as it builds loyalty and generates sales. Unlike a traditional one-to-many media arrangement, some media organizations are establishing business models upon user-generated content, encouraging unpaid contributors to provide content that can be republished, promoted and profited from.

Word-of-Mouth Marketing.

Ads have come to dominate some of the larger social media channels. The new year will see users clamoring for a “quieter” social media experience. They will look to sites that do not have established business models and are free from annoying ads. Sites such as Snapchat, Vine and Path will become more popular, but will likely fall prey to the inclusion of sponsored messages and banner ads within a year’s time.

The Smartphone.

More and more the smartphone is used less for carrying on conversations than it is used for accessing the Internet. Perhaps unwittingly or no, service providers such as T-Mobile, that offer unlimited data plans, are increasing the amount of people who access social media platforms via smartphones. This trend is likely to continue as more people acquire smartphones and rely less on other devices such as the desktop computer or laptop.

The social media landscape is poised to go through some drastic yet thrilling changes in the coming year. New channels for social interaction will rise as others are likely to fall. But whatever changes in social media 2014 holds, we can be sure that new and exciting interactions will make this year a year to remember and discuss.

Jessica is a freelance journalist who loves to cover technology news and the ways that technology makes life easier. She also blogs at FreshlyTechy.com. Check her out on Twitter @TechyJessy.

Via: Young Upstarts

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