As digital business continues to evolve, the relationship between business and consumer is experiencing a radical change. Modern communication has blown away the barriers of what was once relatively static advertising media. The modern consumer is not just a passive recipient of marketing messages, but an active participant in a conversation with brands.
As 2014 begins to wane, the trends in online marketing are clear. Here’s a look at the biggest happenings in the digital marketplace.
From Fad To Necessity
For those digital stragglers, the reality is clear: social media is no longer an option. It’s a marketing necessity. Love it, hate it, it’s a force to be reckoned with.
The trend continues to gather momentum. 92% of business owners claim that social media is important to their enterprise, an increase from last year’s 86%. Social media and inbound marketing, in general, are taking more budget space from other, traditional advertising endeavors.
But side by side with the ubiquity of social media marketing there exists the specter of ROI. Data flood, analysis, and aligning social media campaigns to larger business goals remain the bugbears of this still-emergent marketing medium.
Mobile Moves In
Almost 40% of time spent on the internet is on a mobile device. “M-Commerce” is gathering momentum as online activity evolves beyond the traditional PC. Making sure that marketing strategies and platforms include mobile-friendly components isn’t just wise – it’s a necessity.
A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words
While not as big as Facebook, image-centric networks like Pinterest, Snapchat, and Instagram have loyal populations. Business continues to find creative ways to connect to followers through images. In fact, among total social networking sites, Instagram experienced the largest increase of active users between 2013 Q3 and Q4. And it doesn’t hurt that pinning can be so darn addictive.
LinkedIn When it comes to B2B activity, LinkedIn has become a solid tool to spur business growth. Usage this year alone has experienced an increase of 57% compared to 24% last year. LinkedIn has become the primary channel for B2B marketers.
What’s The Deal With Google+? Ask anyone and they’ll answer that the platform is a major player in the digital landscape. In fact, 61% of businesses plan on expanding their use of Google+ this year.
Appearances, however, can be deceiving. Google has made it clear that their ranking algorithm does not factor social signals. Add the changes concerning authorship pictures from search results and the sudden departure last spring of Google+ head Vic Gundotra, and there is room for serious reconsideration about the platform’s value to marketers. It’s a safe bet for now, especially as a vehicle for establishing content authority and author rank, but that could change in the future.
MySpace Is Still Alive Who would have thought it? But it seems there’s more than just a spark left in Facebook’s little brother. And as Millennials continue their mass exodus from Facebook, they might breathe new life into MySpace.
Micro-Video Sometimes less really is more. Punchy, scaled-back marketing messages conveyed through micro-video platforms like Instagram video and Vine are growing in popularity. Like image-centric channels, micro-video puts a premium on creativity, but many businesses are finding success in brand promotion using them.
The Mighty, Mighty Hashtag
Born in the Twitter badlands, the hashtag has escaped and bred itself into ubiquity. Having migrated to other social platforms and even to TV and casual conversation, the hashtag has grown into a means of organizing and tracking your content. Because they create a searchable link, hashtags represent a new form of SEO.
Social Media Marketing’s Crystal Ball It used to be that social media was supposed to be about leads, conversions, and ROI. But the hard-sales coating has rubbed off, and social media has found itself in a brave new world of information analytics and exchange. Reporting is increasingly becoming a crisis for social media marketers as this new role continues to evolve.
Sites like Bottlenose and Trendspottr are a glimpse into the future of social media, where predictive analytics tools will move analysis away from what’s happened in the past, and instead make predictions using sophisticated statistics, modeling, and data mining.
Today’s business world is more competitive than ever before. The proliferation of advertising platforms and the heightened expectations of consumers that business is active on them, can make marketing a challenge. Want to learn how to leverage the power of social media and online marketing to grow your business? Zen Media has the pulse of the digital landscape. Our creativity and experience can help you move your marketing endeavor to a higher level. Contact us today and learn how we can help make your business better.
 Source: http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/social-media-marketing-industry-report-2014/
 Source: comScore
 Source: ibid.