As 2014 gets into full swing, here are five of the top trends that should inform your digital marketing strategy for the year ahead:
Pre-planned content has its place in the marketing mix, but in the always-on, always-connected context of 2014, being able to take advantage of what's happening right here and now will set brands apart. Last year saw the rise of instantaneous conversational marketing by major brands on platforms such as Twitter and Vine - so if you want to stay ahead of the curve you'll need to get involved.
This essentially means that the team running your social media also needs to function in a similar way to a newsroom - constantly looking for breaking, relevant trends, events and issues and acting on them.
Death of bland marketing messaging
This year we see the continued shift from bland marketing messaging to the dissemination of customer centric, relevant content. Marketers must essentially be content producers - creating articles, blogs and rich media that engages and entertains while resonating with the unique interests of the target market.
The rise of online influencers also means that there's an increasing need for content that can be used to market with these people rather than simply marketing to them.
In line with the need for more relevant, less marketing-heavy content, comes the rise of content co-creation within social communities. As users continue to share more and more content online, marketers need to be smart about tapping into this opportunity - ensuring that content creation is a two way process.
As Google continues to tweak its algorithms to better understand conversational language (and Facebook follows suit) search results will increasingly relate to the search engine's understanding of context rather than merely matching keywords. Diversity of content is also becoming increasingly important in terms of search rankings as Google seeks the most useful, fresh, high-quality results for its users.
Amid the ever-increasing online noise, it will become increasingly difficult to break through on social platforms. Facebook's mobile advertising offerings are now well established and other platforms like Twitter, Google+, YouTube, Instagram and even Pinterest have introduced increasingly comprehensive advertising options.
This means that these spaces will become even more competitive for brands. The introduction of new algorithms by platforms such as Facebook will also shrink the organic reach of brand pages - forcing a shift toward promoted posts. As a result, quality content alone will not always be enough to see the type of fan growth that has been experienced in the past. There will be increasing pressure on brands to 'pay-to-play' and gain visibility.
After studying at the AAA School of Advertising, Desirée went on to complete an advanced advertising programme at True Blue in Chicago. She then worked for many of the top advertising agencies in SA before becoming an independent creative consultant.
Desirée also holds an honours degree in Psychology from UNISA. In 2004 she co-founded Guerrilla Marketing with Michael Gullan and together they grew the agency into what is now Gullan&Gullan - a digital, PR and social media specialist agency. Desirée also co-founded the online jewellery boutique Lobster Charms (www.lobstercharms.com), for which she is also the creative director.
Desirée lives and breathes digital media and steers her creative team to conceptualise and implement breakthrough brand strategies and content that engages, inspires and entertains.
When she's not plotting world domination of all things digital, Desirée can be found bonding with her daughter, walking her Great Dane and bending to the whims of her two black cats. She's an avid reader, has an insatiable appetite for fashion and is a qualified Inyengar Yoga instructor.
We're a digital and brand communications agency. We develop digital strategies and design digital products for some of the world's best companies. We optimise the latest and best traditional and web PR, social media and digital tactics
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