What are the top social media trends for 2015? Will brands continue to use current marketing practices to reach their audiences? Or, will they seek new opportunities for integrating social media into their marketing strategies? Will businesses branch out beyond Facebook with more creative social media campaigns?
What do you see as the top social media trends for 2015?
To find out what the key social media trends are for 2015, I reached out to friends who are experienced social media marketing professionals. I am honored to include their insights below on what the social media landscape may look like in 2015.
This is the full list of friends who have contributed to this article:
- Veronica Athanasiou, Founder & CEO, Oroklini Social Media Marketing
- Nancy Babcock, Founder & CEO, Creative Arts Consulting LLC
- Brooke Ballard, Founder & Chief Digital Strategist, B Squared Media
- Adam Connell, Founder, Blogging Wizzard
- Dorien Morin-Van Dam, Founder & CEO, More In Media
- Mandy Edwards, Owner & Social Media Strategist, ME Marketing Services, LLC
- Chad Egeland, Founder & CEO, Social 360
- Heidi Garland, Marketing & Social Media Strategist, Guild West Agency
- Jennifer G. Hanford, Owner & Managing Director, j+ Media Solutions
- Mallie Hart, Owner & Marketing Director, Go Creative Go
- Sheila Hensley, Founder & CEO, Social Web Learning
- Ray Hiltz, Google Plus for Business Consultant, rayhiltz
- Vanessa Lewis, Social Media Marketing Specialist and Owner, Social Catapult
- Alisa Meredith, Senior Inbound Marketing Consultant/Co-Owner, Scalable Social Media
- Sara Nickleberry, President, Social With Sara
- Anton Rius, Digital Marketing Manager, gothamCulture
- Martin Shervington, Founder & CEO, Plus Your Business
- Ravi Shukle, Online Marketing Expert, Ravi Shukle
- Michael Stelzner, Founder & CEO, Social Media Examiner
- April Heavens-Woodcock, Managing Partner and Chief Buzz Officer, Touching Clients
- Sue B. Zimmerman, Founder, Insta-Results™
Founder and CEO
Oroklini Social Media Marketing
There are a few trends derived from at least a couple of years ago and I have experienced the need to concentrate on only the ones I can actually execute successfully with minimum effort. For me as a small business owner these will be:
- Branded visuals to catch the attention of short span and tired social media users.
- Less mainstream OPC (Other People’s Content) and more niche specific OPC that starts by learning more about my own niche.
- Nurturing my current connections via collaborations with colleagues and valuable monthly e-mails to my subscribers.
Founder and CEO
Creative Arts Consulting LLC
In 2015, I believe we’ll see three 2014 trends working together as one exciting blended trend, the “micro-moment” –brands delivering their brand message in the briefest, most entertaining, AND interactive way across many social platforms.
- Mobile will continue last year’s record growth in HOW customers and brands communicate. Website designs will elevate the Responsive design even more to include more mobile friendly features like larger text, finger-friendly share icons, faster loading and more interactive pages. With Google’s recently released plans to add a “Mobile Friendly” designator for websites that meet certain criteria, businesses awarded this Google badge will have a better opportunity to outrank the competition in search.
- In 2015, we’ll see more and more brands including Hashtags as their marketing Call to Action. 2014 TV ads and prime time shows made some attempts with hashtag marketing in their 2014 social media, we saw success and some fails.
- I believe businesses that successfully combine mobile, website, and hashtags into customer motivating micro-moment messages, across multiple platforms, will have the opportunity to outperform the competition in 2015.
Founder & Chief Digital Strategist
B Squared Media
One of my biggest social media trends (and focus) for 2015 is content distribution. I think this is critical this year because in the past we’ve all been told to just “write epic shiz” and the people will come. However, that is not true for 99.99% of writers, bloggers, and companies using content marketing to reach their potential customers. So what does that look like for B Squared Media and clients? Something like this:
- Creating content “loops” that nurture potential customers through our sales pipeline (example: website, to blog, to newsletter subscriber OR website, to eBook, to free course subscriber OR webinar, to blog subscription, to free consultation)
- Having a plan for getting more people to our blog, which we’re doing by:
- Creating a subscriber blog community — when they sign up to get our blog delivered to their inbox each week, we’re also giving them subscriber-only goodies and giveaways
- Running paid ads to our blog posts
- Boosting blog posts on Facebook for more exposure (this is a double whammy since it helps both our FB exposure and content exposure)
- Getting influencers to get behind our content (influencer outreach & the use of Triberr helps with this)
- Posting less frequently but with more value on social channels, as well as having more conversations vs. posts/publishing — which we’re calling our #LessNumbersMorePeople movement
- More networking, like guest posting, podcasting, hosting Tweet Chats and G+ HOAs
Though there are a few other areas of focus, this is one that’s fairly new for us (and certainly one we think we’ll see trending across the social sphere).
2015 will be an important year, full of emerging platforms and networks with the potential to make waves.
Below are some of the key trends, I think we’ll see throughout 2015:
- Facebook will begin to lose its stranglehold on its user base but it won’t be enough to matter (at least, not yet).
- Despite, losing its stranglehold, more and more businesses will continue to flock to Facebook and use it as an advertising platform.
- On the flip side, a significant portion of businesses not prepared to pay to reach all of their followers will continue to search for alternatives.
- More brands will become more adapt at integrating social into their marketing strategy.
- There will be a much bigger focus on the importance incorporating influence marketing into marketing strategies – more brands will begin to incorporate this into their marketing strategy.
- Niche social networks (E.g. GrowthHackers and Inbound) will continue to gain more traction and because of this we’ll likely see more and more new contenders appear within different industries.
Dorien Morin-Van Dam
Founder & CEO
More In Media
Last year I predicted 2014 was going to be the year of ‘video marketing’. No one could have predicted the enormous success of the #icebucketchallenge however! Robin asked me to list several trends I see for 2015 and I am glad I get to list a few, not just one top trend. I have a lot of local and location-based clients and the trends I see there are related to mobile and location-based marketing. Here are my top 3 trends!
- Continued growth in video marketing across all platforms
- Continued (and increased) demand for social media education for professionals
- Increased focus on local, location-based marketing to capture mobile customers
Owner & Social Media Strategist
ME Marketing Services, LLC
I think we are going to see a change in the way businesses use social media in their marketing efforts this year. With algorithms changing and more on the web in general, those utilizing social media are going to have to step out of the box. The beauty of social media is that it is always changing – there’s always a silver lining in every change and that is where trends come from. Here’s what I see in 2015:
- More creative social media campaigns
- Businesses using content more to push their products & services.
- Businesses branching out beyond Facebook. Watch for Instagram and Pinterest to grow even more this year.
- A return to focusing on the relationship with the customer.
Founder & CEO
Another year has come and gone and that means of course it’s time to pull out the crystal ball and have a little fun guessing at what social media and digital marketing trends we will see in 2015.
While it’s hard to predict what’s going to happen a day from now, let alone for an entire year it is a fun thought exercise to play and for 2015 here are a couple of predictions or educated guesses I see happening in 2015.
- Pay To Play – Gone are the days of unlimited free exposure on the social networks. All businesses are now going to have to budget in order to promote posts, pins and tweets. Facebook and Twitter already have established ways to promote content and advertise and Pinterest just opened up it’s platform to all, 2015 is really going to be big for paying to play in social.
- Google+ Gets Advertising – With pay to play in full effect Google is going to want a piece of that action.Google has created a very mature social network with features not found elsewhere and they smartly sat back and let it grow. Now that it’s starting to get mainstream acceptance and really take off they are going to want a return on their investment which I believe will happen when they introduce a Google+ advertising platform to promote posts, pages, profiles and more.
- More Content Curation and Discovery Tools – With the amount of content being created and published each day, it’s getting harder and harder to discover content for sharing. I think we’re going to see an upward trend in more content curation and discovery tools such as BuzzSumo, Swayy and Feedly as they work hard to deliver curated and personalized content for each user.
- Facebook Still Remains #1 – I don’t think this is going to be the year Facebook dies and even as organic reach drops to near nothing and page managers cry that they are leaving Facebook, only a tiny fraction of the vocal minority ever do. Why? Because if you want to reach the majority of people on this planet in one place you go to Facebook because that is where people go to connect with friends and family. Advertisers and businesses know this and still want a piece of the action.
Those are some of my predictions for 2015 and while it sucks I do know pay to play is here to stay so we might as well get used to it, we are suffering from content overload and a maturation of content discovery tools will help us manage those problems, Google is going to want to make some money off of Google+ and yes people will still shout from the rooftops that Facebook is dying even though I highly doubt it’s going anywhere, anytime soon.
Marketing & Social Media Strategist
Guild West Agency
Since I joined the social media movement in 2008, Facebook has been a dominant player in my annual social media predictions and this year is no exception. Facebook has changed it’s business model from a “free service” where all are equal to a pay-to-play scenario which modifies the roll that I see Facebook taking in 2015. Other social portals are capitalizing on those leaving Facebook and encouraging those disenchanted with Facebook to join their portal. A predictor of upcoming trends tends to, in part, will be dictated by high-school and college age people for them Facebook is no longer on their radar.
My 2015 predictions are:
- Instagram will take on a more dominant role.
- LinkedIn will become a stronger publishing platform and executive networking portal.
- Google+ will remain a necessary evil – we still need a presence there.
- Facebook will be more for major brands who pay to advertise and niche markets who still have organic reach.
- Apps and video will remain big.
- Final Prediction is less about Social Media and more about Marketing. Marketers will begin to invest more into their owned properties, their websites which is where great companies like R & R Web Design LLC will excel in 2015!
Jennifer G. Hanford
Owner and Managing Director
j+ Media Solutions
Social media trends often change in the blink of an eye. What’s hot this week might be completely forgotten by next week. For example, two new “promising” social networks: Ello and tsū> made their debuts in 2014. I experienced the excitement of being an “early adopter” for both of them. (I didn’t get to experience that thrill with Facebook or Twitter since they’d already been around a few years before I got involved in social media).
Many others followed the crowd and joined these networks too, mostly for the sake of trying something different. Needless to say, both platforms quickly lost their novelty – for myself and perhaps for others. They’re still around, but not making the huge “splash” everyone anticipated. Among other trends that I think will continue growing in 2015, I also see more of these types of social networking platforms rising – and falling.
These are the other social media and related trends I think will persevere:
- Mobile: Apps are going to be critical for any “new” platform to thrive; the social media apps people already use on a regular basis (for Facebook, Twitter, etc.) should continue improving, especially in the area of personal privacy.
- Social advertising for brand name exposure: This will be tough for small brands with limited budgets…and I don’t think very many are going to “pay to play” this year).
- Imagery: Quick and simple design programs such as Canva make creating awesome graphics and images a no-brainer. Then there are image-focused platforms like Pinterest and Instagram, which are becoming more popular each year. Plus, since most of the major social media platforms are image-friendly now, I think we’re going to see a lot more visual content in our social streams this year.
- Increased engagement on social media: This goes way beyond “humanizing our businesses.” In a nutshell, many brands have disappointed their followers and customers on social media. This was either due to poor or unrelated responses to their questions/comments, delayed responses…or worse – no response at all. And people are talking about it. Savvy companies have been investing in social media monitoring tools (time and/or money) and realize it’s completely worth it. I think more brands are going to become more conversational online this year…or else risk missing out on a lot of opportunities, both online and off.
- A huge return to email marketing, but integrated with social media: I think people still like the simplicity of receiving emails…perhaps in the form of an e-newsletter, which they can more easily “digest.” Add your business’ blog posts in a newsletter for them to read once a month, along with a set of social sharing buttons, and that’s it. Doesn’t that sound a lot better than the constant bombardment of content most of us filter through – or delete – in our social streams every day?
Go Creative Go
I actually pay very little heed to the end of year/beginning of year trends articles (Robin already knows this, I gave her fair warning, not wanting to derail her article) for two reasons:
- I find they tend to be quite repetitive, from site to site and from year to year.
- I find that many of the authors that laud a certain trend, then tend to never bring it up again. How then was it such an important and remarkable year-long trend?
With that in mind, Robin has allowed me to share what I’d like to see become more prevalent in digital marketing in 2015 and years to come.
- A concentration on conversation, no matter the platform. Conversation can even happen on Twitter. 140 characters or less, with proper spelling and punctuation!
- I’d like to see more people pay it forward, especially on Google+ and Twitter. It’s not about reciprocity, it’s about creating more connections for conversation and discussion. Making introductions is only good social sense.
- I’d like to see people put a premium on their writing. I’ve regularly stated that typos happen to us all, including me (often). But there’s been a misconception, of late, where the magnificence of the idea is supposed to render us immune to poor grammar and incorrect word choice. I’d like to see that change. I’d like to see those smart ideas presented with equally smart writing.
Founder & CEO
Social Web Learning
I’ve seen a surge in interest and action in Local, Neighborhoods and Maps on Google Plus. My focus in December and now beginning in 2015 is to get my Business Page set up properly so it can be easily found, get reviews from past clients to allow prospective clients to see what others are saying and to make sure my map tag is correctly placed for easy access.
Google Maps and all that goes with Maps:
- Google Business Pages will surge as businesses realize that Google Search is the new Yellow Pages with more pertinent information.
- Google Local will dominate mobile search so be visible and answer questions searchers want answers to.
- Reviews on business pages are not your Yelp reviews. They are becoming a way for businesses to support each other rather than be competitive.
- Neighborhoods will add a new dimension to search as people want information on the larger area around prospective homes, shops, etc. and seek a wider range of information easily accessible online. (reference +Kristoffer Howes post)
- Google Maps will be used by consumers to find what they want before leaving home and to map their route for better efficient use of their time
- One more thing that I am seeing is collaboration between businesses supporting each other rather than competitiveness.
Google Plus for Business Consultant
When Robin asked that I contribute to this article on social media trends, I was very happy she didn’t ask for my predictions. Predicting what will happen in social media is like predicting where the next snowflake will fall. You know that it will fall but wind, temperature and location – all factors beyond our control, will determine the exact spot.
Identifying trends is easier. It relies on observation and analysis of the past. I’m better predicting the past than the future…
Here’s a short list of trends I see for 2015:
- Small businesses will continue to leave Facebook.
As organic reach approaches zero, they will continue to engage with fans they already have but will rely on traditional advertising to reach new clients.
- Business will use social media as a lead to offline networking instead of a replacement for it.
The gap between online and real life networking will narrow as business realize that social media marketing works best when it’s social.
- Mobile becomes the default portal to the Internet.
Last year everyone was saying it was the year of mobile. Every year from now will be as Google, Facebook and every other digital company prioritizes mobile user experience.
- Google will continue to invest in Google+ especially Google My Business
They’ll continue to try to boost the G+ social platform while breaking out Hangouts and Photos as stand alone apps while still keeping them under the G+ social overlay.
- Videos, podcasts and images rule.
Companies will continue to try to make emotional connections with their audience using visual media and relying less on text.
Social Media Marketing Specialist and Owner
In 2015, I believe the top social media trends will be:
- A focus on the optimisation of social media marketing for mobiles (and for websites)
- An increase in the use of video for storytelling and promotional purposes
- An increase in relevant, targeted ads across most platforms
- A decline in the use of Google+, as it now offers no unique value in comparison to other popular social networks
- An increase in visual storytelling and original content across all platforms
Senior Inbound Marketing Consultant/Co-Owner
Scalable Social Media
Social media is not the “new thing” any more. As it’s matured, businesses are becoming more and more willing to invest time and money in to making it work. But they’re also becoming smarter about WHERE to invest. Good news all around!
- Podcasting takes off. With millions and millions of blogs out there, it’s getting harder to stand out. Podcasting is a much less competitive field right now, but it’s about to heat up. Which means that people serious about podcasting are going to have to invest the time and money to do it well.
- Visual takes over. Social media has been heading towards the visual for years, with Pinterest and Instagram pushing the envelope. A new Pew Research study revealed that Instagram is THE fastest-growing social media platform. This just confirms that marketers need to give greater priority to the visuals they use in their marketing.
- Paid social is a way of life. I think most of us have come to terms with the fact that Facebook organic reach a thing of the past for most, but reaching people there is worth paying for for many businesses. The targeting options just keep getting better. And Pinterest promoted pins? If you haven’t tried them yet, I suggest you do. It is very affordable and you get a lot of “free” amplification when people repin your promoted pins.
- Prioritize! I’m seeing people scale back on certain platforms (I mean you, Facebook) when they see it just isn’t working for them. With more networks popping up all the time, it just makes sense to constantly reevaluate where you spend your time.
- Niche social picks up. The “big guys” are great for many businesses, but where there is a niche social platform for your industry, it often makes sense to spend more of your time there. For example, Houzz now has over 25 million users, and many professionals are getting great leads by being active there.
Social With Sara
It’s always fun to predict the social media trends for the new year. With changes in how people use social platforms and how those platforms evolve, improve user experience and adapt to its user’s behavior, you start to see what emerges pretty clearly. Here are three trends that I think stand out the most:
- Instagram becomes THE go-to social media network for images. With the social site now reaching 300 million users and 200 million of them active users, it doesn’t take long to figure out that Instagram can be a great tool for building awareness and engagement through visual content.
- Social Advertising becoming a standard component of Facebook social media marketing strategy. With organic reach shrinking down to near nothing, brands will need to incorporate social advertising in order to be seen and grow followers on Facebook.
- Mobile-focused experience. Brands have to start thinking more about how to address the mobile user when building their strategy. Some experts are even suggesting a “mobile-first” approach.
Digital Marketing Manager
I don’t know if these are trends, but there are a few big things I’m seeing more on social media:
- The way businesses are using visuals will continue to grow and evolve. Today, if you’re not using photos attached to your Tweets, Facebook posts, G+ posts or blog articles, you simply aren’t getting peoples’ attention. Visuals are so much more engaging than text alone, and with Instagram’s user base exploding toward the end of 2014, it’s clear that your customers feel the same. The big challenge for brands in 2015: Use them smartly.
- Distribution of content across social channels is becoming a lot more interesting recently. It’s becoming clear that you cannot simply blast the same message across every social network and expect success. The social landscape is becoming fragmented with niche social networks. As a result, savvy brands should be thinking about native promotion for each of their social profiles in order to maximize their appeal.
- Lastly, I think we’re approaching a boiling point for social media for the sake of it. I don’t know if it’ll happen this year or in the near future, but at some point, brands are going to have to show a meaningful return on their time investment. If you’re on social media for “thought leadership” and “awareness”, it’s a good start. Eventually, however, you should start thinking about what happens afterward.
Social media is a fantastic tool for conversation and distribution of content, but what are the next steps? Once you get people to click on your link from Twitter, what do you want them to do? I’d like to see brands start to think more objectively about the context of social media within their bigger strategy.
Founder & CEO
Plus Your Business
My focus of attention for social media is Google+, and the trends I see emerging over 2015 reach into the entire Google ecosystem and include:
- Increased importance put on Google Reviews – they link back to a Google+ Page, and this will steadily educate people on the nature of Google+ more
- Content fatigue will kick in more, and the importance of communities and tribes will keep on rising as a way to stay in touch with what matters most
- Google+ communities will start to be created by more and more businesses as they realize they are more flexible than, well, alternatives
- Google Hangout-on-Air will continue to spread far and wide as a tool for content creation.
All in all, it will be about people connecting in new ways.
Online Marketing Expert
We live in a great time thanks to the internet and social networking where we can now connect with our customers and peers literally in a click of a button. However with the rise in new social networks it now means our customers are spoilt for choice. Here are some trends I am seeing that will help your business to stand out in 2015:
- More personal Interaction through video (Both through YouTube and direct uploads via Facebook, Instagram, Vimeo etc.)
- Shorter response times via social media – Customers today expect a reply within 2-4 hours
- More visual content – With so much competition out there it’s crucial in 2015 that you define your branding and keep this consistent to help stand out and build rapport.
- Utilize social ads to help increase reach to targeted customers
Founder & CEO
Social Media Examiner
- YouTube Declines as Social Networks Embrace Hosted Video
- Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn will show preferential treatment to video content that is hosted on their own platform. This means that marketers will be uploading original video content to each social network (and not just short videos).
- The social networks will give extra exposure to uploaded videos because they keep users on the platform longer and provide unique advertising opportunities. This distribution of video will radically transform the way marketers work with video.
Managing Partner and Chief Buzz Officer
One of the biggest things I love about social media is that it truly does change all the time what was hot one minute could be dated in the next. This year I see a large growth in small business activity in using social media platforms. Small Business has been using social channels for the past few years but in 2014 I met many that were barely there, feeling like they needed to be using these networks and thirsty for knowledge. They are finally understanding the value of what it can bring to their business brand and also recognize that social media is a “has to be” part of their marketing strategy for long term success.
There will be a larger trend where they are spending marketing dollars into advertising especially on Facebook and trying to extend their reach within their local communities. Advertising on Facebook in particular will be a leader in online social media adverts and the use of video will be a top choice to bring that personalization to a businesses brand. The motto of you need to pay to play will be necessary for brands to get the extension of their reach in the Facebook newsfeed.
Sue B. Zimmerman
Founder of Insta-Results™
This will be the year of the collaborative community. On and offline there is an opportunity to build relationships and expand our sphere of influence from communities outside our own. We should become more relaxed about sharing what we do and who we know. I call it “lead with giving.” In this evolution of how to do business, everyone wins.
The hashtag is the anchor of the social media revolution. A single hashtag connects a conversation across Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and Google+.
From these conversations, a community can quickly be formed; people with common interests are united. These conversations are also the place where businesses conduct their most powerful market research.
Today, even when you can’t physically be at an event, you can still join the conversation, thanks to the hashtag. Be a part of the conversation before, during and after the event to get the total experience!
Build your community through your expertise and your experiences. This mindset will help transform how we receive information and how we communicate our knowledge. Make 2015 #InstaAmazing.
Over To You
What do you think about the key social media trends for 2015? Please share your thoughts below.