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By Deanna Ayres

Social Networks. Blogs. Internet communication. vectorWith the New Year quickly approaching, many people are focused on their resolutions. For marketers and social media marketing agencies, however, the focus is on the changes that will come for social media in 2015. In January 2014, Facebook was predicted to significantly decrease in usage and, therefore, importance from a marketing perspective. By the end of the year, though, Facebook has overcome its death sentence and is reporting record growth in the number of active users and ad revenues.

The example of Facebook shows how difficult it can be to predict the future of social media. Keeping this in mind, let’s dive into a few of the major predictions of what’s to come for social media in 2015.

The Emergence of Scommerce

The first successful steps towards a scommerce system were introduced in 2014 through campaigns on Twitter and Pinterest. For ecommerce brands, this development was especially exciting. The increased efforts to simplify the social network driven buying process for online shoppers with platforms including Twitter and Facebook was underway and, in 2015, users will begin to reap the benefits. Allowing consumers to purchase directly from social media webpages is a no-brainer with massive potential for marketers and social media marketing agencies.

By creating another streamlined sales channel, companies can set themselves up for a major spike in sales. It is important to consider, though, that providing a way for customers to purchase products directly from social media can undermine the purpose of these platforms. At its core, social media is about customer engagement and building genuine relationships between the customers and the business. By pushing sales into this arena, companies are walking a fine line between building valuable relationships and increasing sales. Nevertheless, scommerce is one of the major changes predicted for 2015.

New social networks

At first glance, it may seem that social media is relatively saturated, with the presence of powerhouse platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. There is, however, space in the market for niche social networks, tailored to the areas where the powerhouses are perceived to fail. Lack of privacy, the collection of personal data and increasing pervasive advertising are just a few of the areas that new networks like Ello, Yik Yak and tsu are looking to build their businesses around.

While these platforms may initially attract those users who protest the larger networks for reasons of privacy, for example, it may be difficult for them to maintain their user base at a level that can rival Facebook’s 1.3-billion user global community. In 2014, there we dozens of new networks that thrived by linking themselves to existing communities to capitalize off of groups and get them to join a new network. Dedicated niche networks for cooks like Foodie and for fitness addicts like Fitocracy are already up and running successfully.

Although introducing new networks into the mix may seem overwhelming, there are niche markets that are underserved by platforms like Facebook and Twitter. For this reason, new niche networks are one of the major social media trends to expect next year.

Tell true brand stories

Over the past few years, consumers perceive companies as being more and more unreliable. The messages these companies have been sending out are increasingly manufactured, attempting to trick people into clicking on their social media content or coerce them into purchasing a product. Social media is focused on building relationships and increasing engagement, meaning that there is no room for these manufactured messages.

Great social media content isn’t about tricking the consumer, but about being remembered by the consumer days later. To achieve this, brands will need to start telling powerful stories, while staying true to your brand’s essence, and increasingly it will mean higher production values and more video. Remember that a heavily-promoted Facebook post can have even more reach than a TV ad run during the season finale of a popular television show.

By showing the brand on a more personal level, it allows the consumer to connect more to the brand, which should result in more conversions in the end. While brands have been trying to build this connection for years, the major difference in 2015 will be the focus on personalization. There is no reason to use one piece of content to reach all of the potential customers when companies can use simple targeting and basic adaptations to make it personally interesting to each individual. Research has shown, though, that people do not like meticulously accurate adaptations, because they feel stalked by the company. Simple adaptations will make the content appealing without putting it over the top.

The changes coming to social media can be described as a greater shift towards the consumer. Companies can gauge their potential success based on the happiness factor of their consumers. If they are happy and engaged by the social media presence of the company, they you can be sure that they will stay active with you on social media. Social media in 2015 presents opportunities for companies to behave differently and improve their business.

Deanna AyresDeanna Ayres is the SEM Strategist and Community Outreach Supervisor at The Marketing Zen Group. She loves to come up with new content strategies for and with her team and believes that connecting on a personal level is vital to success. Growing up in Europe has allowed her a unique insight into cultural differences in business & marketing. In her spare time she is a photographer, hobby cook with a love for coffee, gamer and geek. Follow her @deanna_ayres