With each new year, social media trends turn themselves into powerful strategies. This year is no different; 2014 promises to deliver a complete array of trends that stem from the successful strategies that worked during 2013. From the continued growth of newer social media networks to pay-to-play advertising options, the social media landscape is changing, yet again. Are you onboard and ready to sail?

Less Facebook, More Instagram

This change is two-fold. The first is that younger generations, primarily Generation Y (Millennials) and their younger counterparts are gravitating more towards Instagram than Facebook. Facebook usage is down, while Instagram usage continues to rise, especially with Instagram’s newly released direct messaging feature and video capabilities. The second portion of this change is with advertisers themselves. More companies are starting to utilize Instagram as a viable advertising stream. You’re sure to see more of this come 2014.

Short “Teaser” Videos Abound

Don’t fret – viral videos will still play on in 2014. Who can resist a good laugh? Now that Instagram and Snapchat saw jumps in usage since instituting the ability to produce video clips, videos will remain a key player in social media strategies. Additionally, companies will utilize video clips to create smaller advertisements that they can easily share on their social media networks. So don’t be surprised if you start to see more videos ads on your feeds!

Snapchat Continues to Grow

This disappearing message platform is not slowing down. It processes approximately 400 million photos and videos per day. It recently turned down a $3 billion offer from Facebook to purchase the company for cash. Some thought that was a crazy move, but was it? If this monster continues to feed, it has the potential to surpass $3 billion. Watch this one closely in 2014 as it continues to grow, and companies figure out how to monetize its usage.

Companies Increase Their Content Marketing Budgets

More companies are starting to see the value in organic content and will seek to grow their own programs. Those who can write blogs, newsletters, articles, etc. will be high demand in the New Year as companies realize that not only is the quantity of content important but now, more than ever, quality is key. Content drives site traffic, SEO, and social media. Without consistent quality content, your digital marketing efforts will suffer.

Continued Mobile Optimization of Brand Sites

According to a study by mobiThinking, 71% of smartphone users that see TV, press or online ads, do a mobile search for more information. However, 79% of large online advertisers still do not have a mobile optimized site! Brands will take a cue from social networks and continue to grow and enhance mobile versions of their sites. More and more people are turning to their smartphones and tablets to research brands, purchase products, and interact with those who use the same brands as they do. It would be wise for all marketers to automatically include a mobile optimized site for their desktop versions.

Pay-to-play on Facebook and Twitter

In order to be on top of the Facebook and Twitter advertising world, you’ll have to pay-to-play. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to gain consumer traction from these platforms without paying for ad space. In 2014, companies will have to cough up some dough in order to play by paying for sponsored posts and promoted accounts and tweets. The larger the budget, the better the outreach. You can still gain some new users and engagement with a smaller budget in the beginning of the year, but as the year progresses, you’ll have to increase your bids in order to compete with others in the market.

Target Niche Communities Instead of Casting a Wide Net

Gone are the days of casting a wide net just to gain followers. A more targeted demographic approach will give some marketers a big win in the New Year. The wide net approach may gain you followers but not necessarily qualified ones. In order to reach those who are qualified – those who will truly engage with a brand – marketers will choose select niche markets to target market. These niche markets will have commonalities, whether based on demographics or common interests that will make them tempting to certain brands.

As you can see, there’s a lot to look forward to in the New Year when it comes to social media trends. However, if you’re just starting your strategic planning now, you have a lot of catching up to do. 2014 is right around the corner. Spend some time planning your social media campaigns so that you’re ready for the most profitable quarter of the year!

Be sure to follow Sparxoo’s journey through our own social media networks: Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn!