JSH&A Forecasts Five Social Media Trends for 2015

Monday, December 1st, 2014

2014 was a busy year filled with highs and lows stemming from myriad cultural moments and global issues. And, as in recent years, the proliferation of social media helped spread these moments worldwide at record-breaking speeds.

Marketers worked overtime monitoring these conversations, as well as adapting to the changing social landscape. The industry tested more video on social with the launch of Hyperlapse and Facebook’s direct-upload videos, allocated more resources to content creation and increased native advertising spending to increase scale and reach.

As this busy year wraps, the social media team at JSH&A mined its learnings and identified five social media marketing trends that will likely shape marketers’ efforts in 2015.

2015 Social Trends Ingrographic_v2 no WM

1. Real-time marketing is redefined

Instead of real-time, focus on right-time

Since Oreo’s infamous dunk in the dark, brands have scrambled to have their own standout real-time marketing moments. But many of these efforts have landed brands in hot water (and generated countless #marketing #fail headlines). Now, the RTM conversation is shifting.

In 2015, it will be less about having a rapid response at the ready, and more about having the right content to share with the right audience at the right time.

For some brands, this means looking beyond mainstream moments. Ask yourself: Am I force-fitting my brand into this trending conversation? If so, the moment is likely not meant to be. Rather, seek out the moments that really matter to your audience. Then, develop personalized content around these topics that will resonate with your audience. Remember, something delivered at the right time doesn’t necessarily have to be created in real time. As eMarketer reports, personalization can make right-time feel real-time.

2. Social media ad spending increases

Pay-for-play is the new norm for social media

Beware: More promoted posts, tweets, pins and pics will arrive in news feeds in 2015. This shift is well underway, as 2014 saw the rise of sponsored photos and videos on Instagram, promoted pins on Pinterest and goal-based ad campaigns on Twitter. The most telling sign of this shift was on Facebook, where drastic declines in organic reach made it clear that to reach fans, brands will need to pay for ads.

Moving forward, marketers will shift to an always-on paid social strategy to ensure content is reaching their fans.

To do this, media spends and content marketing strategies must be developed together. Setting aside media dollars to promote high-performing content or to increase visibility during a relevant moment in time is important. Beyond these opportunistic budgets, marketers will want to allocate dollars to support brand equity messages and important marketing events (e.g., product launches, sponsorships). Take advantage of social’s sophisticated targeting tools like Tailored Audiences on Twitter and Custom Audiences on Facebook to ensure you reach key audiences with tailored messages, creative and calls-to-action.

3. Content marketing continues to grow

Measuring effectiveness remains a challenge

Marketers have been increasing their content creation at rapid-fire rates for the past couple of years. In a recent Content Marketing Institute study, 69 percent of marketers reported that their companies were creating more content than they had in 2013. In that same study, 59 percent of marketers reported that their content marketing budgets will increase in the next 12 months (a trend that proved true in 2013 and 2014, as well).

With content creation and budgets on the rise, marketers will place greater emphasis on measuring ROI and the effectiveness of their content.

To do this, marketers will need to gain deeper insights about how content performs across channels and audiences. When revisiting content marketing strategies for 2015, be sure you’re evaluating effectiveness with these metrics in mind:

  • Reach, including unique visits, geography (where your content is being consumed) and mobile viewership (how your content is being consumed)
  • Engagement, including bounce rates/time spent, in-page analytics for click patterns and page views
  • Sentiment, including comments and social shares, which can be analyzed via social listening and reporting tools like Radian6 and HootSuite

4. Video isn’t just about YouTube anymore

Facebook, Vine are commanding more video views

Facebook is challenging YouTube as a destination for viewing and uploading videos. In August, Facebook had more U.S. desktop video views than YouTube—12.3 billion v. 11.3 billion.  Vine and Tumblr are also seeing more and more video views, especially among teens. While YouTube remains the most effective channel, it’s clear other social channels are gaining traction.

Now, marketers need to identify how video can work across their various social channels. And it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution.

Think about the stories you want to share and how video may make them more compelling. Then calibrate the content for individual social channels—short-form video for Vine, time-lapse video for Instagram, longer form for YouTube. For example, shoot short-form how-to’s and product demo videos in response to top consumer questions. Take fans on a whirlwind behind-the-scenes tour using Instagram’s Hyperlapse app. Or, seed YouTube influencers with cameras and ask them to share their stories.

5. Facebook is no longer king of engagement

The visual web is taking over

Images are king on social media. So it’s not surprising that channels like Tumblr, Pinterest and Instagram each gained more than 10 million visitors in 2014. And these visitors are engaging at rates much greater than Facebook users. On Instagram, engagement per post is up 416 percent in just two years.

A Facebook-first or Facebook-only approach may no longer make sense for some brands.

There are lots of reasons why users migrate to or away from social channels. However, as the social media landscape continues to splinter and niche social networks appear, it’s safe to say that Facebook will not always be the most impactful or effective channel to build a social presence and engage with fans. Remember to develop your social channel strategy with these in mind:

  • Follow your users. Identify your consumers’ interests and how and what they share online. Then, match these interests and behaviors with appropriate social channels. If you’re a food brand with a female fanbase that loves sharing recipes and #foodporn pics, then Pinterest or Instagram might be top picks.
  • Know where the conversations are happening. A social listening audit can uncover where relevant conversations about your brand, competitors and industry are happening. This is also a great way to identify opportunities on newer or niche networks.
  • Create content synergies. Think about the content that drives the greatest engagement among your fans. Can you use similar formats to share your story on other social channels? You want to customize content for each channel, but take advantage of synergies when you can.


Content Marketing Institute; B2C Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends (2015)

Comscore (October 2014)

Simply Measured; Q3 2014 Instagram Study (2014)

 About JSH&A Communications

Celebrating 25 years, JSH&A is a Chicago-based marketing communications agency that helps leading CPG brands drive consumer awareness, engagement and advocacy through integrated PR and social media programs that deliver high-impact results. Named a top Consumer Marketing Agency of The Year, the agency has won multiple awards for its creative campaigns and strategic influencer engagement programs conducted on behalf of global consumer brands including ConAgra Foods, The Hershey Company, Beam Suntory, Robert Bosch Tool Corp., SKIL, McDonald’s, Purina, Master Lock, Dremel and Safest Choice Eggs. A member of the IPREX global network of communications agencies, JSH&A works with partners across the U.S. and in 40 countries around the world to provide clients with seamless strategy and execution. For more information, visit www.jsha.com.