Every year, around December, these posts begin to crop up. Already, some have been making the rounds; what will the future hold for content marketing? The reality is, even our best predictions will surely fall flat. How many people considered Google Authorship the number one factor for 2014? How many people anticipated the shakeup that was Google’s Pigeon update? No one can know what the future holds, but we can make our best guesses based on trends and technology as it advances.
The Elephant in the Room
The biggest hurdle Facebook marketers will have to leap is the famous Princeton Study. This study, performed throughout this year and based on an analysis of past social networks and networking trends, indicates that Facebook should begin to undergo a drastic decline, starting in late 2014 and proceeding through the coming years.
If Facebook truly becomes the dead zone it’s predicted to become, it’s possible that 2015 will be a year of Facebook marketers scrambling to find relevance on other networks. However, the study itself is under scrutiny, and it’s likely that Facebook won’t be seeing quite the same decline that their apocalyptic predictions indicate.
Paid Engagement, Paid Enragement
2014 has been a big year for paid engagement. Facebook’s organic reach has dropped, dropped and dropped again, and in response marketers have two options; turn to third part boosts or pay Facebook for higher reach.
It’s likely that the coming year will bring this crisis to a head. How long will Facebook hold out on pushing marketers down? How long will marketers stand for it, before they decide that enough is enough and it’s time to find a new place to market? The worst part of all is that paying Facebook for additional reach has tended to result in poor quality additional visitors; particularly due to the poorly targeted boost posts button, which acts as a shortcut towards promoting posts in a poorly done way.
The Great Teen Exodus
Teenagers are a notoriously fickle demographic, and it’s no surprise that they’re already leaving Facebook en masse. Facebook’s original demographic was older teens and 20-somethings, after all, and while teens were attracted for some time, they have already begun to move on to sites like Tumblr or services like Ello. Many more are moving towards less site-based networking and more mobile-based chatting, like Snapchat, or even video content through Vine. It’s a sure thing that businesses looking to cater to teens will need to look elsewhere in 2015, if they haven’t begun to already.
A Push for Organic Posts
The largest factor in Facebook’s declining organic reach, at least according to Facebook, is the rise in promotional language in posts, combined with the typical user’s disdain for such language. They recommend that you dial back on promotional posts and lean more heavily on organic, face-to-face chat-style posts to attract engagement.
Facebook recommends that you steer away from posts that push for product sales or app installs, posts that push for contest entries or random sweepstakes, or posts that mimic what you’re posting in ads. One thing this means is that you should avoid using the text from popular posts in your advertising; it makes your organic posts look more advertorial.
No Sales on Facebook
Facebook will increasingly become a site for networking, research and customer service, moving away from sales. You’ll never be able to achieve success with a store hosted on Facebook, nor will you be able to push posts that ask for product sales with any quality. Instead, you’ll need to present the public face of your brand as a human one, while also drawing in data through Facebook’s robust analytics.
Facebook’s Atlas offering opens up incredible new worlds, and if it fully launches in 2015, it will be the Year of Facebook Advertising. Right now, the biggest factor holding Facebook ads back compared to Google AdSense is that Google is able to serve on a massive network of sites, while Facebook is limited to just Facebook
Atlas changes all that by giving Facebook access to robust tracking and advertising throughout the Internet. Imagine the reach of Google with the custom audience targeting of Facebook and you have some idea of the juggernaut Facebook could unleash.
Of course, there’s always the possibility that a critical flaw will keep Atlas from reaching any sort of prevalence, so it’s best to be wary before diving in headfirst.
Another interesting Facebook spinoff in 2015 will be the possible Facebook Wallet. Like Google Wallet, Amazon Payments, Square, Stripe and Paypal, Facebook wants to get in on the online payments game.
How many people are going to trust Facebook with their credit card information? That’s a question that remains to be seen. Many high-profile hackings have caused lost faith in large brands over the last two years, and Facebook already has a lot of privacy concerns. If Facebook falters, their pay space will fail, but if they manage a secure and convenient solution with a ready audience of over a billion people, they could dominate overnight.
Mobile Mobile Mobile
If you’re not already catering to mobile, what are you even doing? Stop reading this. Just stop. Go set up a mobile site. Contract a responsive design. You’re years behind the times already; you can’t be looking to the future while living in the past.
If you already have a mobile site, keep in mind that the mobile mainstream is only going to grow. 2015 may also be a year of wearable tech, from new smartwatches to biotech and tech woven into clothing. There are dozens of innovative projects in various stages of development.
Beware the Social Snafu
These last few months of 2014 have been largely characterized by massive social justice movements, largely powered by Twitter and other social networks. 2015 will continue this trend, and it behooves businesses to be very aware of their stance on these issues and avoid picking the “wrong” stance publicly. The backlash can be immense.