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Microsoft is planning to release its Windows 10 operating system in the summer. While the software maker isn’t naming an exact date, Windows chief Terry Myerson is committing the company to a summertime launched . “We continue to make great development progress and shared today that Windows 10 will be available this summer in 190 countries and 111 languages,” said Myerson. Microsoft is making Windows 10 available as a free upgrade for existing Windows 7 and Windows 8 users for a year, and that offer will start this summer.
As part of Microsoft’s upgrade plans, the software maker is partnering with Lenovo and Tencent to offer Windows 10 in China. Lenovo will have Windows 10 upgrade services at 2,500 service centers and some retail stores in China. Tencent is also offering an upgrade pack with a variety of popular apps including QQ. Both partnerships are clear moves by Microsoft to make Windows available in China, and a way to combat issues of software piracy in the region. Microsoft is even offering its Windows 10 upgrade to customers who have non-genuine copies of Windows. That’s a big change to Microsoft’s previous attempts to tackle software piracy in China.
Are you wondering what 2015 might look like for social media marketing?
If the changes in 2014 are an indicator, there will be a lot more changes in 2015.
To get a grip on what the near future may look like, we tapped the knowledge of 28 social media pros.
#1: Video Becomes the Content of Choice
In 2015, video will dominate as the social media content format of choice. Further, regular video segments, like podcasts and blog posts, will come into their own as a form of content that drives social engagement and other marketing goals.
Let’s look closer. In August 2014, Facebook surpassed YouTube in the number of video views via desktop according to It’s important to note that YouTube still has more views across all devices. As of September 2014, Facebook attracted a billion video views per day, a roughly 30-fold increase since July.
#2: Information Density Creates Hurdles
To me, there is one mega-trend that is like an enormous hammer forging nearly every idea and innovation in our marketing world today: Fighting through information density.
By 2020, the amount of information on the web is expected to increase by 600% (and some believe that number is low!). The challenge of cutting through the content shock and earning a share of the limited customer attention span is the marketing challenge for the foreseeable future.
This reality is behind important shifts occurring in the next year:
Business migration away from Facebook. The drop in organic reach has been apocalyptic for many businesses. Why? There’s too much content on Facebook and the company is forced to ratchet down the reach. We’ll have to either spend a lot more money on Hollywood-quality content, a lot more money on advertising or both. This will force some businesses to reconsider Facebook as a viable channel and enable a migration to less noisy venues.
Emergence of new content forms. As the web adapts to and adopts these new realities, it will drive innovations that help businesses stand out. I predict that we’ll see some interesting new content forms develop in 2015. A couple of areas ripe for innovation are interactive video and new types of short-form visual content.
Fighting through filters. New apps and filters are emerging to help consumers make better content choices. One example is Zite, which filters content for you as it learns about your preferences. As more people turn to these apps to sort the clutter, the marketer’s attention will turn toward the new challenge of getting messages through these new filters.
These are just a few of the many implications of this trend. The conversation on the web will turn from “content” to “ignition”—how do we get our message to cut through and compete?
#3: SlideShare Becomes the YouTube for Business
Instagram is to Facebook as SlideShare is to LinkedIn. In other words, look for SlideShare to emerge as the key social network for business professionals to find and share bite-sized pieces of content while on the go in 2015.
SlideShare is currently where you create, distribute and consume presentations, and it’s a great tool for B2B marketers to do content marketing for their target audience. Good presentations drive page views, leads, SEO juice and often long-lasting evergreen content. In 2014, SlideShare added video capabilities for LinkedIn influencers. In 2015, SlideShare will extend video to their entire audience. Watch for SlideShare video to become YouTube for business.
#4: 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.
#5: Social Conversions Become Easier
Social micro-conversions will become an active and successful strategy with every business in 2015.
Currently, businesses look to promote on social media, direct traffic back to their site, introduce a call to action and then drive the visitor through the conversion. The needed behavior is rife with trouble, because it requires the consumer or prospective business to take many steps.
I believe we’re going to see a lot more methods across social media that provide direct action through engagement. It may be a purchase through a tweet, mobile click to call, a Facebook registration or a Pinterest purchase, which bypasses the funnel and drives the social user directly to a conversion.
#6: Paid Ads Become Unavoidable
In 2015, social networks will continue to find ways to push businesses into their advertising programs.
We already know that Facebook plans to stifle organic promotional posts in the news feed starting in January 2015, and that Twitter hasn’t ruled out implementing a Facebook-like algorithm for their news feed. Instagram is still busy expanding their advertising platform, and since they’re owned by Facebook, an algorithm that limits organic posts from businesses and brands could easily be added into the mix.
Hence, social media marketers who might have avoided social advertising in 2014 will be forced to embrace it in 2015.
#7: Local Search Expands Google+
The rise of Google+, through Google Local Search results, will be a phenomenon in 2015.
Google has created the infrastructure to enable businesses to easily appear in Google search, and so many businesses still haven’t claimed their listings.
Once they have five reviews, the stars will be shown. The ‘star game’ will start to play out in 2015: authentic reviews will rise to the top and small businesses will have the chance to shine.
#8: Tech Innovations Change Marketing
I don’t think we’ll recognize the future of social media! It’s hard to know what will have a greater influence on social media in the future—hardware design or software innovation?
With hardware innovation like Oculus Rift and D-Wave’s Quantum Computer popping up seemingly overnight, there’s no telling how hardware will affect the way we interact on social. And it most certainly will affect it, making engagement more intuitive, more in-time and more realistic than ever. Imagine what fully experiential quantum data integration will do to social interaction. The most active post on my Facebook page right now is a raging debate over having chips implanted like they’re doing in Sweden.
#9: Silos Break Down
In 2014, there was still a massive disconnect between brands and consumers due to a misuse of social media as a communication tool at the brand level and a misunderstanding of who the customer actually is.
This will be the year brands wake up to the reality that social media is a relationship-builder and not a one-way bullhorn. They will embrace the conversation, knowing that in order to establish meaningful connections, they must break down the social media silo they have created.
Brands will also recognize that the continued humanization of the brand is essential. As digital marketers, we talked about this at length in 2014. However, I continue to see brands speaking at consumers rather than with them. The mental shift to “tell a story,” not simply push a message, will happen.
#10: Campaign Focus Shifts to Experience
In the information-driven and consumer-empowered world, relationship capital is the only business metric that stands the test of time. Brand love and customer advocacy is what takes care of the business bottom-line. To truly earn the trust and loyalty of educated, tech- and social-savvy, global, connected millennial consumers, it isn’t enough to distract them with short-term dazzle campaigns. To ignite and keep customer advocacy long-term, companies need to show that they care by repeatedly enabling meaningful experiences.
#11: Paid Media Becomes Necessary
In 2014, we witnessed several changes in the way businesses are forced to approach Facebook marketing—first with the drop in organic reach, then the death of the like-gate and now the announcement of how Facebook plans to reduce the amount of promotional content coming from brands in the news feed. We should not be surprised if other networks eventually follow the same path.
In 2015, we’ll see the rise of paid media. Small businesses will have to get more educated about how to accelerate the distribution of different types of content at different stages of the sales funnel if they want to survive.
#12: Republishing Grows Reach
Facebook spent 2014 tightening the noose on social marketers, and with an algorithm change taking effect in January, shows no signs of stopping in the new year. On top of that, other networks like Twitter continue to grow more crowded, which means getting noticed in a feed or a timeline gets harder and harder all the time. Therefore, reach for individual posts is dropping.
Anyone with a Facebook page can tell you that reach has plummeted, and the reach on any given post is a fraction of what it would have been a year or two ago. That’s why in 2015, marketers will focus on getting cumulative reach by republishing their updates multiple times. Instead of posting an update once and hoping for the best, they’ll post an update again and again. Instead of trying to take out one large slice of pie, they’ll take multiple smaller pieces that add up.
Republishing updates like this may improve reach in more ways than one, because it can afford marketers more time for one-on-one engagement. By spending less time writing unique updates that may or may not hit their targets, marketers will be able to dedicate more time to interacting live with their fans and followers, encouraging the type of engagement that Facebook values and rewards with more consistent organic reach.
#13: Campaigns Become Platform-Agnostic
We’re going to see marketers shift their focus back to “platform-agnostic marketing.” Savvy marketers are realizing that the social space is becoming increasingly fragmented, and creating unique campaigns for each channel is difficult and expensive. For the last few years, you could create a campaign just for Facebook and get good results. But now your audience is everywhere—Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and others—each with different reach and engagement.
Along with increased fragmentation, marketers are seeing increased costs to just to have their messages seen. There isn’t a free ride anymore. To get the most from your marketing dollars, you’ll have to be in more places at the same time.
The best bet is to have one clear goal (increased engagement, sales, data collection, etc.), and then be “everywhere.” In 2015, marketers will create centralized platform-agnostic campaigns that achieve these goals, regardless of where the audience comes from.
#14: Fans Demand Personal Interaction
Next year will see increased demand for personal interaction with fans and followers. This means that fans today want to get to know the people behind the logo or brand and want to see who it is they’re engaging with.
Companies that have already grasped this concept are not only seeing a lot more interaction on their content, but also building up a higher level of trust. This approach lets their fans know there’s a real person behind the company who cares about what they have to say and is there to respond.
#15: Social Media Goes Niche
In 2015, I foresee the rise of a smaller, more personal social media trend that focuses on niche groups and specific, shared qualities or interests.
We’ve always shared with specific people or to small groups through “dark” channels like email or text messaging right alongside our broader social media sharing. In the coming year, I predict that this type of sharing will begin to get more notice from marketers and app developers.
#16: All Social Networks Offer Paid Visibility
The majority of the social networks will copy Facebook’s model for displaying information to their users. That means other social networks will begin filtering what posts your friends or followers see.
Why? Because there is a lot of noise on these social sites, which causes users to decrease their engagement. Sure, as a user, you can unfollow or unfriend certain people. However, if the majority of their posts are great, you still want to see what they have to say. You just don’t want to see the junk.
In addition to improving user experience, this model can help these social sites generate extra income. For example, any additional revenue that publicly traded companies can squeeze from their users means higher stock prices.
Although most people or companies won’t pay to guarantee all of their posts are seen by others, larger companies will. Paying for the visibility of their content will ensure they are getting traffic and the brand exposure they’re looking for.
If you want all of your content to be seen without having to spend any money, share high-quality content or updates on a regular basis. Also make sure the majority of your followers are interacting with your content. For example, if you don’t know half of your friends on Facebook, you can’t expect them to be as engaged as your real friends would be. For this reason, you may be better off unfriending those users. Having interested followers will produce higher engagement rates, which will prompt the social network to show your content to more people.
#17: Marketing Requires a Combination Approach
No longer will there be social media marketers who focus on only one network. They will be extinct!
Integrated social media marketing will become a “must” for implementation. For too long marketers have been doing “Facebook marketing” and “Twitter marketing” plus other marketing in isolated silos. As we’ve seen in 2014 with Facebook reach, if a business focuses on only one social platform, changes to that platform can be disastrous. Therefore, the importance of integrated marketing will headline 2015.
#18: Visual Content Ups Its Game
Visuals, visuals, visuals! This will be the year we see marketers take images and videos to the next level. Over the past couple of years we’ve seen visual platforms like Pinterest and Instagram skyrocket in popularity. Plus, more recently, videos have become more popular on Facebook.
We’ve also seen tools come on the scene that make creating awesome visuals super-easy and fun to do. Canva has made image creation a breeze and mobile apps such as PicStitch and Wordswag put the power of creating interesting images and videos for Instagram right in our pockets.
No longer are great images limited to businesses with huge budgets for professional photographers and graphic designers. Now, businesses with the smallest budgets can create images for their content. This is a good thing because consumers will expect higher-quality images. In the early days of Pinterest and on Instagram almost anything could get attention with repins or likes. Now there’s so much competition on these platforms, not just any image will do.
Great visuals also go a long way in helping people establish trust with your online presence. Have you ever been to a doctor’s office with outdated furniture and old magazines in the racks? Unless you’ve been seeing that doctor for a long time, you might question his or her professionalism. Not using images in your content or using bad outdated ones can reflect negatively on your business. People could think of your business as less professional or less reputable.
On the flipside, when it comes to videos, I predict that we’ll see them become less produced and more relaxed and natural. There’ll no longer be a need to set up a studio with a production crew for every video you create. Social media audiences will find the spur-of-the-moment videos created on a smartphone more relatable and engaging.
#19: Marketers Take Control of Content
We are tribal by nature. As such, I believe there’ll be a continual move toward common-interest communities that fuel our innate need to tell stories and communicate as a group. This includes Facebook groups, LinkedIn groups, group boards on Pinterest and Google+ communities. Hashtags will also continue to shine on Instagram and Twitter as a way to stake our claim to a topic or niche and build community by curating content around that topic.
When you establish a group on any of these platforms, both the founders/admins and the people who join the group actually want to find each other. They are looking for conversations about mutual interests. They want to see your content in a place where they’re not distracted by main news feeds.
It’s not surprising that many businesses are reporting the benefits of establishing a Facebook group separate from their Facebook page. As pay-to-play becomes more of a necessity for having your content seen on Facebook, the popularity of groups brings a degree of control over what content we share and how we communicate with each other.
#20: Hashtags Build Collaborative Communities
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 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!
#21: Paid Media Becomes the Norm
Paid media isn’t going away. In fact, budgeting for paid media will be more important than ever, as it will be more integrated with earned and owned media.
This year, we saw social media platforms like Pinterest and Instagram introduce ads to a number of businesses as they strove towards monetization. Next year, we can definitely expect them to make a worldwide rollout.
The use of social media will only continue to rise as the number of people who join these social media channels climbs. We can expect organic reach to continue to decline as the volume of content on these networks increases.
To make up for the decrease in organic reach and to get content across, businesses will need to pay to play or watch their content wash away. Soon the idea of free attention will vanish and paid media will be the norm.
I believe this is a natural progression, since there are only a number of things we can see at any single time.
The increasing competition to get content across will in turn evolve paid media into another level, as businesses try to satisfy consumers’ thirst for good content. Native advertising and sponsored posts garnered a lot attention from businesses this year. We can expect better integration and coherence with its platforms moving forward.
While most people might find this disturbing, I think if paid media continues to evolve, we might just get good actual content.
#22: Visual Marketing Explodes on SlideShare
The recent upgrades to SlideShare put it in place to be the hottest social platform in 2015. LinkedIn owns SlideShare.
LinkedIn started delivering solid traffic to blogs in 2014, as well as on-platform publishing. SlideShare will seal the deal as a viable social platform, proving that LinkedIn is no longer just for finding a job.
SlideShare offers an easy way to create an enhanced version of a blog post or repurpose a presentation. Building your visual brand across the web has proven to be a powerful piece of the branding puzzle. A great SlideShare can help showcase your expertise and build thought leadership.
Solid features of the upgraded SlideShare:
Upload infographics to SlideShare
- Download leads from views of your SlideShares
- Keynote author status for select accounts, offering special features and wider exposure
- Customizable profile page
- Clickable links at the end of the presentation, which direct traffic to your website
- Integration with Haiku Deck, so you can create a presentation directly in SlideShare
A fun way to showcase a SlideShare is to make a GIF of your presentation using GIF Deck. Embedding a SlideShare into your blog post or post published on LinkedIn is a snap with the provided embed codes. You can also add them into your next email blast. And they look great on mobile!
With its versatility, link-building opportunities and lead gathering, it’s hard to deny SlideShare’s value to your content marketing bottom line. Add SlideShare to your content marketing plan and see how it can boost your visual marketing in 2015!
#23: Social Marketers Become Selective
Social media is becoming increasingly competitive and complex. If it was possible to be a social media expert three years ago, it’s definitely impossible today. And it becomes even worse as we enter 2015.
Specialization is unavoidable. No one can be a Facebook expert, Twitter expert, Instagram expert and Pinterest expert all at once. On top of that, the advertising options offered by each of these platforms are becoming so complex that mastering them requires an enormous amount of testing, experimenting and learning.
#24: Direct Buying Becomes Mainstream
In 2015, both Twitter and Facebook will introduce the Buy button and we’ll see significant sales happening through these platforms. I don’t imagine that you’ll be buying products for a few hundred dollars, but you will hand over micro-payments. For example, it makes perfect sense for authors launching a book to offer it for sale directly on Twitter and Facebook.
We know that Twitter and Facebook are already testing this out. I think that they both will partner with Stripe to do all the payment processing.
LinkedIn will follow with a similar payment system, but I don’t see this happening until 2016.
#25: Social Media Marketers Rebrand
The popularity of the search term “content marketing” is gradually catching up with “social media marketing,” and service providers will react by broadening their services and repositioning their brands.
This trend started with SEO companies a few years ago when content marketing emerged as the most sustainable (and safest) way to improve search rankings. But as demand for content marketing services grows, social media marketers will be next to jump on the bandwagon.
#26: Businesses Embrace Owned Digital Assets
In 2015, I believe there’ll be a renewed focus on building and growing owned digital assets such as websites, blogs and communities. Social media has offered tremendous content distribution and engagement opportunities over the past few years, but it’s become much more noisy, expensive and difficult to reach your audience. Additionally we don’t own our space or our connections on social networks, and the rules are changing constantly.
#27: Video Creates Engaging Experiences
As humans, we each define a positive experience differently. When we have experiences that go above and beyond expectation, we want to share them and engage our friends and followers. To benefit from this innate behavior, companies need to think through and create world-class shareable experiences for their audience.
Since videos are likely the easiest ways to share a moment, video marketing will take off in 2015 in ways we’ve never seen before.
Video gives us the most context around people, companies and things over any other online medium. Start thinking about video as experiential. This is where 3D glasses and video start to give us the ability to play with video and experience stories, shopping and interactions in new ways. (Remember that Facebook bought a 3D company in 2014.)
It seems like loyalty and its definition have changed overnight. Customers who want different things will expect and deserve a personal experience in 2015. So give them unique, engaging experiences. And use video and creativity to do it.
#28: More Apps Support Anonymity
The web has gone back and forth on anonymity. In the early days, everything you did online was anonymous. But that eventually moved to you having to use your real name because of hate messages, bullying and even crimes. If you weren’t going to say what you had to say using your real name, the web decided you probably shouldn’t be saying it at all.
In 2014, anonymous social media apps such as Whisper, Secret, YikYak and Facebook Rooms emerged and gained popularity fairly quickly. Once again, we can air our grievances with little risk of real-life consequences.
Although Microsoft is removing the Nokia name from its upcoming Lumia smartphones, the brand will live on. Nokia is now planning to license its brand, allowing third-party manufacturers to create products and devices that use the Nokia moniker. It’s a similar approach to how Polaroid licenses its own brand to let third parties create TVs, cameras, and other electronics.
Speaking at Nokia’s capital markets day last week, Ramzi Haidamus, president of Nokia technologies, outlined the company’s plan to leverage its brand now that Microsoft has acquired its phone business. Nokia is restricted on using its brand on smartphones until the end of 2016 and feature phones for another 10 years thanks to a deal with Microsoft, but it can use it elsewhere freely. “It is our goal to start licensing our brand in areas other than these two restricted areas, starting this quarter actually,” says Haidamus. Nokia will use the brand “in the areas that we can and the areas where the brand is relevant.”..