by Jennifer Lumba | February 09, 2014

Another year is upon us, and that means it’s time for not only resolutions but predictions. What will change? What won’t?
Before answering, let’s consider where we’ve been. Twitter went public and is now valued at more than $22 billion. Google required YouTube users to sign in with their Google+ profiles before commenting on videos. Facebook offered $3 billion for Snapchat, only to be rebuffed.
All in all, it’s been a year in which social media has grown not only in popularity but also in value. Here are a few ideas for what we might see in 2014:
1. More customization. Look for more ways to build custom feeds or private lists and tools for timing posts or clarifying who can see what you share. Social feeds are busier than ever; tools for managing the chaos are sure to become a requirement.
2. Fewer bots. With the major public networks facing more scrutiny, it’s likely that we’ll see a crackdown on automated or fake accounts. These ‘bots’ are notorious for spreading not only spam but also malware.
3. Video will gain ground. Services for sharing short video clips have become increasingly popular. Look at Vine and Instagram. Your feeds will get more video, whether you’re the one supplying it is up to you.
4. Texting gets more social. Chat and messaging platforms such as WhatsApp and its 300 million-plus users are threatening the incumbent networks via their ability to instantly connect friends on the cheap.
5. More disposable tools. When Facebook tried and failed to purchase Snapchat for $3 billion it proved there’s a vast market for tools that allow for temporary postings to social feeds. Expect entrepreneurs to take advantage.
6. Internal networks begin to replace email. Texting and messaging services have changed the equation when it comes to digital communications. Friends and associates expect instant responses to urgent requests, and fast responses for everything else. Email systems won’t be able to keep pace.
7. Images beat headlines. Where compelling text and headlines once drew shares and re-shares, images will become the stuff of “trending” posts. Pictures are worth 1,000 words after all.
8. More filters. As networks grow, users will want to find ways to cut back on the amount of noise finding its way into their feeds. Expect more ways to mute, block, or otherwise exclude unwanted content.
9. Brands get more social. Each passing year has seen companies get more active on social media. Whether it’s brand pages, ads, or company news feeds, executives have long since conceded the idea that social channels are critical for marketing. In 2014, expect to see more big names use the major public networks to pitch their wares.
10. Niche networks will gain momentum. Rather than wading into the vastness of Facebook or Twitter, users will seek and find smaller groups where they can share ideas around specific interests. Prepare by knowing where your customers will find their peers. Then, become an active, giving member of the community.
And what if none of these predictions come true? So be it. Social media best practices are timeless. Be consistent, personalized, and collaborative, and success will surely follow.

Jennifer Lumba is the chief marketing officer of Rideau Recognition Solutions. Built on state-of-the-art technology, Rideau’s employee recognition and customer loyalty programs change the way companies recognize employee service and achievement, reward individual and team performance, strengthen customer relationships, and create brand loyalty. Lumba can be reached at [email protected].