Between less steady growth on Facebook among Millennials to the adoption of new startup apps, this year was huge on the social front. Twitter went public, Facebook became more ad-heavy, Snapchat skyrocketed, and Foursquare... well, Foursquare is still having an identity crisis. But no matter, 2014 is sure to be just as influential in relation to culture, consumers, and social media. With big ideas in tow, our internal team at DigitalCoCo and Foodable rallied our thoughts and ideas together of what’s to come in the next year. In this article, we share five of them with you.
- Video Killed the Cable Star. Ok, maybe that’s a bit intense, but in 2014, we will continue to see video explode. From video consumption, video curation and creation, to broadcast and TV convergence, video platforms aren’t going anywhere. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that Orange is the New Black and House of Cards is far from falling. These series aren’t backed by typical producers, but are doing extremely well. With platforms producing their own content, trends like binge-watching have taken on new waves. In 2014, we predict there will be more all-encompassing lifestyle brands utilizing video as a major content platform to engage with consumers. It started with Red Bull. More recently, Volvo has hit the viral mark with this video. Embedded storytelling within brand messaging pulls consumers to a brand rather than typical, promo ads that push.
- The Rise of Microbrands. The infrastructure of the restaurant business is changing and will continue to do so. What it took to build a restaurant 15 years ago is far from where we have shifted. Now, restaurant owners are able to build a restaurant at a lower point of entry if they maximize their resources. Between social media, mobile and digital, we’re seeing a rise of microbrands – that is, brands that can be replicated, but don’t provide the exact same cookie-cutter experience in each location. Rather, each store location offers something different, whether it be in the decor or on the menu. Shake Shack and Sweetgreen are great examples of this model.
- Sustainability-wash. Everyone wants to be the next Chipotle. However, because restaurants will no longer be able to keep up in the market without fresh and local food, we foresee a 2014 sustainability-wash. Local and fresh have already become somewhat expected, and that expectation will only continue to increase over time. Restaurants will no longer be able to sway consumers because of this. Sustainability has become a buzz word, and with that comes desensitization.
- Social Spam. There’s no doubt that Facebook has become more infiltrated with ads. It started as a sidebar placement and slowly crept its way into our Newsfeed. This goes hand-in-hand with why brands should adopt No. 1 on this list. There’s also been rumors about Facebook ads evolving into what could become an autoplay video. (Remember those '90s websites with automated music playlists? Don’t be that guy, Zuck.) Now that Twitter is public, Twitter ads have become more prevalent, as well. Instagram has even started rolling them out. The question is: will social spam cause the next wave of social or is this the beginning of the Social Apocalypse?
- Evolution of Location. Location, location, location. We can’t stress its importance enough. We’re seeing more brands opening up to the metric to measure social ROI and to connect with loyal customers. Social platforms have, over the past two years, provided us with more local-focused features, the most popular being check-ins. In 2014, we see there being more predictive analysis amongst social behavior. In fact, because anyone can wear a mask and control who they are on different platforms, tracking consumer behavior – how consumers act, what they search, where they go, etc. as opposed to what they say – will become more important.
- Mobile Mass. Mobile has become such an integral component of a brand's presence today. Mobile is where consumers are. According to our Restaurant Mobile Social Consumer Report and data from the Restaurant Social Media Index (RSMI), 65% of all location-based traffic on social media comes from restaurants. Currently, the Top 5 most mobile-connected brands by mobile actions are Taco Bell, Starbucks, McDonald's, Chipotle and Wendy's. And with an estimated 74% of people now using a smartphone and 52% using a tablet, the end of 2014 may be the tipping point of critical mass of mobile users in the restaurant space. 2013 showed growth, but 2014 may be the last push until critical mass.
Only time will tell whether society will continue to adopt these trends, causing a shift within 2014. Will sustainability claims still sway you? Will 2014 be the year of the Social Apocalypse? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!