That is a nice bridge…

I spent Saturday in Chepstow, visiting some old friends. It was a great day, with brilliant weather, glorious sunshine interspersed with torrential downpours. Typically British.

I got to do something I’ve meant to do for a long time, cross the Severn Bridge. What a bridge!

Severn bridge crossing
That is a nice bridge…

There is a hell of a view off the bridge, but why, oh, why haven’t they surfaced it properly?! The patchwork of tarmac makes for a distracting ride across its length.

I also got to meet up with the guys at Area 52 and get involved with their latest project.

Area 52 is a car-based community based down in the South West, the exact location is somewhat of a secret, but their members are from all across the UK, and even Europe. Some of the projects that have come out of A52  have been impressive, drawing the attention of the media. A personal favourite is a Series Land Rover, the third series 2 off the production line no less. Though its been modified slightly…

The next project will be unveiled at the Retro Rides gathering in August, but I can tell you already, its something special with some rustic french style.

My social predictions for 2014

What changes can we expect to see in social media in the next 12 months? What trends do businesses and brands need to pay attention to in order to keep up?

Here are my top social marketing predictions for 2014!

1. It’s About Show, Not Tell

Given what we have seen so far in 2013, visual-based content will dominate in 2014. The popularity and use of visual-based content on social media will continue to increase in 2014.

We know that posts that contain images or videos outperform those without when it comes to likes, shares, comments, and re-tweets. Failing to incorporate image-based media into your social media content strategy will mean losing out on huge amounts of potential engagement!

Just take a look at what we know from this year:

Businesses will need to be creative in terms of incorporating images and videos into existing content, and coming up with fresh new ways of incorporating visual-based content into all aspects of their social strategy.

2. Instagram and Snapchat are Going to be Major Players And Businesses Will Use Them to Reach Their Audiences In Unique Ways

Some interesting current statistics for you about these platforms:

If you are not yet familiar with Snapchat (only 18.6 percent of iPhone users currently use the SnapChat app), here’s a brief description: Snapchat is an app that can be used to send photos or videos that are only available to be viewed for a set amount of time (generally 1-10 seconds). Once time is up, the image or video is hidden from users and deleted from Snapchat’s servers.

One of the most interesting uses of both SnapChat and Instagram that we should be keeping an eye on is for reaching consumers via coupons. While quite a few businesses are already taking advantage of Instagram for offering coupons, deals and discounts, it will be interesting to see what comes of Snapchat’s ‘exploding coupons’. These coupons will only be available to users for several seconds, giving a whole new meaning to the concept of ‘flash sales’!

3. A Mobile Strategy Becomes Compulsory

With reports of mobile overtaking desktop usage somewhere between 2014/2015, businesses who want to keep up need to get serious about integrating mobile into all aspects of their business. Simply having a mobile-friendly website will not be enough.

Businesses will need to consider:

  • How their website is accessible via mobile: responsive design, mobile-version, or app.
  • How their overall marketing strategy works with mobile: With 84 percent of smartphone shoppers using their phones while in stores, businesses need to figure out how to integrate the virtual and ‘real life’ experiences of their customers (coupons, product reviews, mobile checkout systems, etc.).
  • How their content strategy works with mobile: Offering short, actionable pieces of content to mobile-users, determining when their target market is accessing content via mobile (see infographic below), using segmentation to offer the right type of content to the right people, etc.

4. Google Plus still will remain a ghost town

Google Plus just turned 2 years old. I read a report that pegs Google Plus’s current active monthly users at 300 million people (up from 190 million in May). This clearly trounces Twitter’s 230 million and makes Facebook the next logical target, but how many of those users are there because they want to be?

Google Plus will continue to gather users, but will remain a ghost town in 2014, with little content shared or connections made.

Leaping into Motion

The leap motion is a revolutionary gesture control system, I’ve had on pre-order since day one.

About a week ago Leap Motion announced some good news. They’ve got a date to begin shipping!

Back in May last year Leap Motion announced the Leap, the world’s most accurate 3-D motion control device, with plans to change the way people control their computers. Accurate to within 1/100 of a millimetre the Leap lets you control your computer with the flick of a finger, or even a chopstick.

Pinch to zoom and swipe to scroll, the San Francisco based startup are offering the chance to become Tom Cruise in Minority Report for a surprisingly low price. The Leap is available for pre-order for just $79.99; Shipping on May 13th and in US Best Buy stores on the 19th.

I’ll be waiting a little longer for mine, unfortunately while you can control computers through air, water is still the preferred method for transport. I’ll be sat here in the UK waiting for mine.

Those in the US looking for a sneak preview can check out the Leap at SXSW this weekend.