Part of my job as a digital and social media strategist is following expert predictions, in order to better help my clients at Firebrand Group innovate. The end of 2013 saw even more lists of predictions than I’ve ever seen previously – some of which were silly or just plain obvious.
I thought it might be nice to turn to my network of authors, strategists, social media executives, and entrepreneurs and ask them one question: “What is one prediction you’re seeing others make for 2014 that you just flat-out disagree with?”
“The most awesome stage”
Last year, Facebook's VP of Design thought the TNW Conference main stage was the best she'd ever been on.
Here’s what they had to say:
1. Social media is the secret to success
I disagree with predictions that everyone is going to have to produce more and more content online to succeed with social media. I predict that 2014 is going to be the Year of Unplugging, and companies will have far more success backing off a bit, being much more thoughtful about what they’re doing online, and making sure to integrate more offline contact and connecting to get back to getting in touch with customers in “old fashioned” ways.
Handwritten notes, phone calls, handshakes. People will notice and appreciate the effort to reach out away from social networks.
– Aliza Sherman, Award-winning Digital Strategist, Author
I disagree with the whole prediction thing entirely. Look: focus on your focus–keep your head down while staying flexible. Let the other idiots waste time with predictions while you’re doing your work. Then you can be ready when they take their eye off the ball.
– Ryan Holiday, Director of Marketing at American Apparel, Author of Trust Me I’m Lying and Growth Hacker Marketing
Many are predicting that content marketing will offer improved results in 2014. The fact is that earned media, that promise of the social era, is dying. Brands are having a harder time getting their content on Facebook through to “fans’” news feeds, and Facebook is warning it will get even tougher in 2014.
Meanwhile, as other social networks monetize, they will follow the same path as Facebook, pushing aside earned media to make room for paid media, while preserving as much of the user experience as possible. To be clear, blogs, posts, and tweets have value, but content marketing will get harder in 2014 as brands struggle for scale, reach, and penetration.
– Augie Ray, Former Forrester Analyst, Finance Social Media Executive
I don’t necessarily disagree with it, but it has become so trite that it is meaningless: mobile is going to be big. Of course it is going to be big; it is already huge.
Telling people that they need a mobile strategy was useful in 2010 or 2011. Telling people that they need a mobile strategy in 2014 is like telling them that they need a website.
– Christopher S. Penn, Vice President of Marketing Technology at SHIFT Communications, Co-Host, Marketing Over Coffee:
On a personal level I do believe that people will look for more balance in their lives and will look for ways to disconnect more. But overall, I think that the consumption of digital content and participation in social interactions online will only rise.
But I believe consumption of that information will be smarter. It will not just be about the content anymore, but about the context. Smaller, more niche networks engaged in meaningful conversation and focused on a particular topic or individual passion, will become more prevalent.
Content consumption, creation, and sharing will only increase, but the way people connect with each other and how they filter that content will change.
– Ekaterina Walter, Co-founder and CMO of BRANDERATI; Author of WSJ Bestseller “Think Like Zuck”
6. Google+ will topple Facebook
The prediction I am seeing in so many places is that Google+ will take over from Facebook as the social platform of choice in 2014. I totally disagree and think that Facebook will still completely rule the roost in 2014.
In my honest opinion, there is not a chance that Google+ will even come close to Facebook! Most people find Google+ confusing and do not use it very much, and they are not moving their lives’ inventories from Facebook that fast.
Also Google, at heart, has never been a social company: they make no money to speak of there other than leveraging what they do best, search, and they just don’t have the real incentive to “get” it.
– Ted Rubin, Social Marketing Strategist, Keynote Speaker, Brand Evangelist, and Acting CMO of Brand Innovators
I disagree with the prediction that social media is the end and will continue to be so. It is not. It is a means to communicate and to connect. People have to stop throwing around buzz words and start building relationships using these platforms.
– Hillel Fuld, Tech Blogger; Startup Advisor
There’s been an over-emphasis on the importance of “big data.” Yes, while most companies are probably not taking full advantage of things such as their CRM/Email Lists, unless you have a large cache of proprietary data – such as large amount of data flows stemming from log-ins, email lists, etc. – there’s probably little of “big data” that applies towards you.
It’s not for every company, and no, dealing with open source data such as those which come from social APIs do not count.
– Chris Ee, Integrated Digital Strategist at Bajibot Media
Vine and Instagram videos are fun, interesting, and worth experimenting with, but right now the appeal seems gimmicky, as opposed to these platforms being major channels we’ll need to reckon with in the future.
– Dorie Clark, Strategy Consultant, Author of “Reinventing You”
10. Focus on content marketing
Of course nearly every prediction contains something about content marketing. I am quite sure that this marketing trend is not sustainable for most businesses.
Prognosticators overlook the fact that our human ability to process information is quite limited while the we create an ocean of new content — and distractions — every day. The entry cost in this channel is becoming very high.
– Mark Schaefer, College Educator, Blogger, Speaker, Best-Selling Author
11. Diversifying social channels
I hear a lot of folks talking about diversifying in the social channels and to a certain extent that makes sense.
In the shape-shifting world of social platforms, you probably should have a toe in a variety of waters. But use that dip in the pool to understand that platform’s audience, and whether your customer is there or you’re talking with future customers. Don’t diversify just to diversify.
– Lauren Hackett, Director, Communications & Social Media, Consumer Reports
12. Qualify success with numbers
Where they think it’s just about “how many” in their respective audience. It’s not about the number of likes, it’s about having the right qualifies audience that is interested and going to engage with your brand.
– Peg Samuel, Social Media Expert. Digital Strategist. Keynote Speaker
13. Facebook is so 2013
I’m so sick of seeing that Facebook is doomed because teens don’t think it is cool anymore. Spoiler alert: all of those teens are on Instagram, and will likely graduate to Facebook when it becomes useful to them.
Just wait until you hear Zuck announce the teen usage numbers for Instagram at the next earnings call. Meanwhile, the CPMs for Facebook advertising keep rising (along with Facebook’s revenue), because it drives business objectives amongst the billion plus people who do think it is cool (or at least that it is useful).
– Ross Sheingold, Chief Strategy Officer at Laundry Service
I’ve seen some people say that 2014 will be the year of Google Glass and such products, but I think we’re still more than a year out from those types of products becoming mainstream. They are simply too intrusive in their current state, they need to become smaller and easier to fit into a person’s daily life (without looking quite so dorky).
– Megan Berry, Head of Consumer at RebelMouse
Of course, predictions are far from facts, so you’ll often find well-respected experts disagreeing about what’s to come for the next year.