Social Media: What we can learn from 2013

Last year was exciting for the world of social media, with highlights including Twitter’s IPO, Vine and Instagram bringing short videos to our newsfeed and the rise of Snapchat. Headlines about big money aside, what did we really learn from 2013?

Last year was exciting for the world of social media, with highlights including Twitter’s IPO, Vine and Instagram bringing short videos to our newsfeed and the rise of Snapchat. Headlines about big money aside, what did we really learn from 2013?

From some awkward social fails to surprising highlights, here’s what everyone should keep in mind for a successful 2014.

Don’t bite the hand that feeds your Twitter

Early in the year, HMV learned a tough lesson in HR when staff were reportedly taken to rooms in groups and informed they were being made redundant – including their social media planner. The official Twitter feed quickly started posting live updates of the situation, with the hashtag #hmvXFactorFiring becoming a UK trending topic. With reports of managers lacking enough social media knowledge to resolve the situation, HMV showed that even big brands can make the most basic of social mistakes.

Snap-chatting to success

The real breakout mobile app of 2013 was Snapchat, with both Facebook and Google attempting acquisitions worth billions of dollars (and being turned down). So why was the internet’s most powerful so interested? In September it was reported that Snapchat users were sharing over 350 Million photos per day, even overtaking Facebook’s sharing stats. Several brands have already jumped on the bandwagon, offering flash discounts and exclusive previews of new collections.

Of course the platform is far from perfect, with recent data breaches and problems with spam, but it’s one to keep an eye on...especially if you want to target the 16 – 25 demographic who are apparently abandoning Mr. Zuckerberg.

Approach Twitter Q&A’s with caution

There were quite a few notable Twitter Q&A disasters this year but British Gas’ decision to host their chat on the same day as announcing a 10.4% price increase was hard to miss. To be fair, this move was taken with the aim of being ‘open and transparent’ about the price rises, but unfortunately Twitter is a difficult environment to control. Clicking on the #AskBG hashtag on the trending topics brought you a long list of complaints (estimated to be over 16,000) and sarcastic responses, making a poor news day even worse for the big energy brand.

You don’t always have to plan for success

Sure, creating successful social strategies often take careful planning and preparation, but take care to not kill the creativity. Some of the most talked about brand activities this year were the result of real-time reactions, notably Oreo’s tweet during the Super Bowl blackout which was said to have been ‘designed, captioned and approved in minutes’. Despite some brands paying up to $4 Million for prime TV spots during the game, Oreo’s speedy tweet ended up being the most memorable brand activity of the night.

Visual content dominates

With selfie being named as the Oxford English Dictionary’s ‘word of the year’, it’s not surprising that images are now dominating social media. Twitter launched Vine in January, challenging users and brands to create six-second shorts worth watching. Instagram followed suit later in the year, allowing up to 15 seconds.

Twitter also introduced a major overhaul to their timeline to include automatic image previews. Multiple studies have found that tweets featuring images attract up to 150% more retweets – this can make a huge difference to your visibility when your tweet is competing against hundreds of others at any given time.

You get what you pay for

Facebook hit brands with an unwanted Christmas present in the form of major changes to their algorithm, having a negative impact on the organic reach of posts from brand pages. The real lesson here is that nothing comes for free. Facebook has long been a strong traffic and engagement driver and the latest changes mean that pages will have to produce high quality content and be willing to spend on advertising where relevant – as always, finding the right balance is key.

If you want to discuss what your 2014 social strategy should look like, drop us a note!