Social media has been changing the way the advertising industry operates, and that trend only accelerated in 2014. Social media is now one of the most important aspects of any overall advertising strategy, and it is only expected to become more relevant in 2015. One of the most significant reasons for this is the fact that the social media platforms have become far more capable of tracking user-generated content, which itself is becoming far more prolific and compelling from an advertising point of view. Social media advertising in 2014 was defined by a significant increase in brands using user-generated content, or UGC, to capture the attention of consumers. We can comfortably expect that 2015 will include more of the same, albeit at an increasing rate.
The dramatic growth of Instagram
Of all the social media platforms that experienced growth in 2014, Instagram has had by far the most significantgrowth. The most iconic example of Instagram’s newfound prominence in social media advertising is seen in the fact that 54% of Super Bowl advertisements used a “hashtag”, and it is expected that around75% of Super Bowl advertisements in 2015will incorporate a hashtag as well. These hashtags served as more than just branding tools, they were used to coordinate and analyze the digital response to the advertisements. The success of this program was encouraging to advertisers, and the strategy of using social media hashtags to gauge the response to advertisements is already increasing across the board.
2015 is the year UGC will begin to realize its full potential
The quality and quantity of user-generated content is rapidly increasing, thanks in large part to the massive growth in mobile broadband speeds and accessibility, along with the increase in access to smartphones with high-quality cameras built in. These tools are making the shareability of UGC even that much easier and quicker to do. Because of the massive growth and availability of content generation tools (e.g. smartphone cameras), we expect 2015 to be much more about finding, curating, and eliciting user-generated content to build brand affinity, instead of the historical focus on increasing the number of followers, or “likes”, that a company’s brand has.
Brand websites will become social hubs
With such an increase in UGC, and with advertising campaigns increasingly using that content, brand websites will be used more often as a social hub, with user-generated content as the primary focal point. This will help companies generate and retain website traffic, and will likely also incorporate “shoppable” content.
Facebook continues to be the largest and most effective platform for advertisers. However, Facebook’s dominance is waning, with Instagram making significant gains, and with LinkedIn losing the largest amount of relative relevance.
Look for 2015 to be a year in which companies increasingly experiment with social media and UGC advertising.