As 2013 comes to a close, I asked each Thunder Cat to share some advice for next year. From predictions on Google algorithms and web design recommendations to social media insights and compelling content strategies, there’s a little sumpin’ sumpin’ for everyone! If you’re gearing up for a big 2014, these tips are going to put you ahead of the pack. Don’t forget to turn off & tune in this season, and see you in 2014!
Amy Budzynski | Social eCommerce is the Future
In 2014, I predict that social media will become more commerce-driven. Sure, we see brands telling you about their sales on Facebook and we all have an “I want” board on Pinterest, but I think shopping will become a highly social experience.
There are some websites that are already making a strong connection between sharing what you want with friends, and actually being able to buy what you want. A great example of this is the site, Wanelo (a combination of the words want, need, and love). While it looks and acts like Pinterest, a significant distinction is that you can buy EVERYTHING you see. It allows people to network socially and ask their friends, “Do you like this shirt?” and then lets them buy the shirt if the answer is, “Yes! Adorbs!” Though nothing is sold on the site, Wanelo earns a commission off each product sold.
I foresee growing traffic to Wanelo and other similar sites. It will be interesting to see if Facebook, Pinterest and other social sites will take a cue from Wanelo and find a way to make shopping easier within their sites…and profit from it.
Ashley Ward | Embrace the Shift from Organic to Paid Reach
Recently Facebook announced organic posts are going to be viewed by less and less people, forcing businesses to invest more in promoted posts. I think this will take full effect in 2014, and become the norm for businesses to set aside a specific Facebook Ads budget and correlating content strategy. I also predict Google+ is going to become a more dominant social network for businesses to target.
Beth Demmon | Make Your Content Count
Social may be flashy, but content will be king in 2014! Everyone talks about social media “trends,” but content is the foundation for it all. While there’s always a new social media channel being talked about, it’s easy to forget that good, true quality content is the basis for everything we share, see, and perceive online. I foresee the standards for content only getting higher in 2014.
Bree Tervort | Keep Your Website Fresh
This upcoming year will be a beautiful one for the web. I think the way things are headed people are realizing that if a website isn’t very pleasant looking the viewer will leave the page pretty quickly. So, here are some tips for keeping your website so fresh and so clean in 2014. Yes, that rhymes.
It seems that users enjoy scrolling through websites on their tablets more often, resulting in more single page websites everyday. Check out this really amazingly awesome example at 17grad.com. With these long webpages, it doesn’t make sense to keep the header all the way back at the very top of the page. So the need for sticky headers is on the rise. They are really simple to add to your site and they help viewers to navigate easier. Here is a perfect example.
I have also noticed bunches of interactive infographics lately. Here is an example of one from Google about How Search Works. I think people are getting bored of the long infographics that are constantly being pushed out. These interactive ones keep people engaged, and they’re really exciting and fun!
So, to recap. Keep your sites on one page. Get a sticky header. Make some cool interactive infographics.
Frank Quattrocchi | Captivate Your Audience with Video
Sites with video content naturally captivate visitors’ attention better than sites without. While video content gained importance in 2013, it will be essential in order to compete in 2014.
Video is easier than it seems – make sure you have good lighting, maintain some space between the background and the people in the video (don’t record someone standing right up against the wall), and don’t just stand still and talk (talk with your hands, be animated, show some personality).
Finding a way to incorporate video into your interactive marketing strategy in 2014 will be a wise choice.
Georgia Hitchcock | Social Sweeps Ain’t What They Were
More and more lately, I am seeing that the techniques we used to implement for a social sweepstakes are just not working like they used to. While WooBox was once our sweepstakes app of choice, we’re starting to see less entries than we are accustomed to (even with the use of Facebook ads to help extend our reach).
I’m finding that the more you can entice a user to share the sweepstakes with their own friends and followers, the more successful it will be. (Social shares = Win!) And as valuable as an e-mail capture can be, I truly believe that boosting the engagement on my clients’ social profiles is just as important and rewarding.
We’re currently experimenting with other apps like Rafflecopter and I’m excited to see how shaking up the old, stale sweepstakes model will bring fresh life into my campaigns in 2014.
Gretchen Stewart-Disch | Keep an Eye on Thunder
Under the guidance of our visionary leader, our rock-star team keeps growing and growing. In fact, we’re growing so much that the New Year will bring a new Thunder location! With fancy new digs and our ever-expanding Thunder family, look for us to be better than ever in 2014! Did someone say office-warming party?
Kelly Kauffman | Don’t Ignore the Power of Instagram
2013 has been a big year for Instagram and it seems like this is going to continue in 2014. If you haven’t considered this powerful photo app for your clients or business, this might be the time to start thinking about an Instagram strategy. Businesses can take advantage of their new direct messaging feature and sponsored ads, making it the app to watch in 2014.
Lindsay Mineo | 2014 is the Year of Google+ Integration
I think 2014 will *finally* be the year that Google integrates all aspects of its long-term local search plan. Google Places, Google+ Local, Google+ (social), Google Maps, and even Google Earth will work together as one. Businesses and marketers will have one dashboard to manage their listings and local search will start to become a social affair after the integration of Google+ for businesses.
Max Thomas | Google Continues to Invest in New Products
In 2013 we saw Google introduce more point-of-sale and sponsored services within the SERPs, such as buying plane tickets and even frozen burritos (yep, try it out for yourself). With the continued roll-out of Knowledge Graph search results, I predict 2014 will bring more point-of-sale services into the SERPs so that the user doesn’t have to leave Google. What’s coming next? I’m on the look-out for consumer financial services, consumer insurance, auto financing and car rentals.
Monique Pouget | Try Marketing without Marketing
In 2014, I think there will be a big shift in the way we market our clients and businesses online. In previous years, there has been a ton of focus on chasing search algorithms and gaming the system, but marketers are realizing that this is no longer sustainable. Instead of worrying about the next Google update, I’d recommend taking a step back and evaluating why people buy your product or service, and then figuring out how to illuminate those benefits with a story.
Marketing is so much more than boosting sales in the short term. It’s about turning your team, customers and prospects into raving fans and making their lives better with whatever it is you’re selling. Check out this cool article from the founder of 37Signals (aka Basecamp) for more deets on marketing without marketing, and get to work on selling the smart way!
Nicole Grodesky | The Semantic Web is Here
2014 is Semantic – New media affects human communication and influences the type of interaction we have with an interface. As human communication changes over time, so does how we interact and receive messages. In other words, as we change how we search for things, so does Google’s algorithm.
Google spent the last couple years cleaning up spammy websites with updates such as Panda, Penguin and Phantom. With the newest update, Hummingbird, Google is focused on structured data within the web in order to pull up relevant results in what they consider a more “conversational query.” Adding schema to your website isn’t anything new, but in 2014 it should be a focus in your SEO strategy.
Phoebe Wong | Cut Down on Website Bells and Whistles
In 2013, we have seen a lot of “over the top” websites with parallax scrolling technique, full screen video home page, interactive animations, flashy illustration…etc. Web designers really did try their best to show off their skills, but sometimes, too much of a good thing could be bad.
The main purpose of a website is to impart information efficiently, and overusing these useless design bells-and-whistles can really get in the way of your remarkable content. With a new year starting, it’s time to sit back and reevaluate your site. Just remember, a website should be designed and judged by how well it works, as opposed to how good it looks.
Shawn Massie | Watch Out Google, Apple’s Coming For You
I predict that Apple will replace Google search functionality on all of its iOS mobile devices with their own search engine behind Siri and Safari in 2014. This is a logical move for Apple following their removal of YouTube and Google Maps from the home screen of iPhones. It is clear to tech giants that the trend is to search on your mobile device instead of your desktop, and that means ads in search results will generate more revenue than ever before.
With 50% of all mobile ad revenue currently coming from iOS users, this is a huge opportunity for Apple and will be a big hit to Google’s leading source of revenue. Online marketers should prepare to have a new search engine to advertise and optimize for.
What are you planning for 2014? Please share some of your own secrets below!