Last year was huge for social media. We saw the rise of certain platforms (Vine) and the demise of others (MySpace). As we welcome 2014, are you curious what will happen with beloved social media sites like Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter and Instagram? Here are a few predictions for social media trends in 2014.

1.     Tumblr will take a tumble.

If recent reports are to be believed, Tumblr has already stumbled, but we predict it will continue in a downward direction. Some tech analysts are predicting Tumblr will be edged out by fellow photo-sharing platforms like Instagram, Snapchat and Pinterest.

The photo-sharing site, which was one of the top 10 sites in the U.S. in late 2012 (and enjoyed a worldwide audience of 170 million people), recently hid their numbers on Quantcast, a traffic-measuring service. This is almost a surefire sign that their traffic is declining. Quantcast reported, “Traffic data has been hidden by the owner,” which is causing major speculation about the popularity — and future — of the site. Also, Yahoo! bought Tumblr for $1.1 billion back in May, which adds to the speculation of the site’s future.

2.     Vine will take its rightful place atop the social media giants.

The video-sharing platform Vine attracted attention when it first emerged onto the scene in January 2013, as people had fun playing around with the six-second time limit. After the user base acclimated to the limitations, they started producing some very creative and impressive videos.

3.     Brands will continue to employ real-time marketing via social media.

One of 2013’s biggest moments in social media was when Oreo Tweeted during the Superbowl blackout. The Tweet went viral quickly, due to its relevance and timeliness, influencing other brands to market their products during sporting events, season finales and award shows. This approach helped brands to further engage with their fan base.

Smaller brands can take advantage of their social network at their fingertips literally at all times. Service providers such as T-Mobile, that offer unlimited data plans, are increasing the amount of people who access social media platforms via smartphones and tablets.

For example, if you’re a small business owner and you think of a great marketing tie-in during a March Madness game or the season finale of Scandal, you can simply flip on your smartphone or tablet and fire off a timely Tweet or Instagram a photo to engage with your consumers. Use the speed of delivery to your advantage!

4.     Short-form content will edge out the alternatives.

Remember the old adage of K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple, Stupid)? Newer social media platforms are embracing this motto and encouraging users to keep it short and sweet. Twitter already limits Tweets to 140 characters. Vine cuts videos off at six seconds. Instagram allows videos 15 seconds or shorter.

Director of Media & Consumer Engagement at Kraft Julie Fleischer predicts “brands will compete over who can tell the shortest stories with the biggest impact.” We agree, and see this playing out over the next year.

5.     Visuals > Text

Visuals are easier to consume than long blocks of text. According to the Social Science Research Network, 65 percent of people are visual learners. We predict that social media users will share ideas predominantly with visuals, instead of text. Think about the most viral content: it’s usually in the form of a photograph, video or drawing.

6.     Companies will become better at “social listening.”

As brands expand their social media presence, it will become almost impossible to tune out the voices of their consumers and fans (in the form of Facebook comments and Twitter conversations). The smartest companies will set in place strategies for understanding and connecting with their audiences, and using feedback to their ultimate advantage, whether that be tweaking a certain product or adjusting an approach to their marketing.

Jessica Oaks

Jessica Oaks is a freelance journalist who loves covering technology news and the ways that technology can make life easier. Follow her on Twitter @TechyJessy.

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Jessica Oaks

Jessica Oaks is a freelance journalist who loves covering technology news and the ways that technology can make life easier. Follow her on Twitter @TechyJessy.

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