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Do you keep up on trends happening in fashion, foods and other markets your interested in? We all do. We want to be “in the know” so to speak and it gives us a feeling of being knowlegeable and popular. Businesses pay attention to trends as well, but for different reasons.

Trends are determined by what a group thinks about something and the importance they place on it. It’s important to pay attention to the trends in our industry, and in this case, that’s social media. Most brands and businesses have some kind of presence on social media channels and therefore, should be aware of what’s important to their success in that arena.

Salesforce published their 2014 State of Marketing report in January, in which they compiled information from marketer surveys regarding their priorities and strategies and how they gauge their success. The report gives us insight into important trends to be aware of as we strategize and implement marketing plans throughout this year.

Here are four social media trends you should focus on in 2014 and their importance to your marketing strategy:

1. Email Marketing

You would think that email has gone the way of cold calling and print publications, but yet it hangs on, and many businesses consider it an important part of their strategy. I get emails from my favorite brands, such as Michael’s, Caribou Coffee, Dairy Queen, World Market and other stores and restaurants. They are a valuable way to keep up on sales and receive coupons. I also receive emails from marketing and social media sites that offer me information, tips, webinars and digital publications that keep me aware of what’s going on in social media and increase my knowledge. Oftentimes I will share good deals and information on Twitter, Facebook and Google+. Use email to target your customers and provide motivation for them to keep coming back to you and tell others about your company.

2. Mobile Responsive Design

Mobile devices are huge with more and more people using smart phones and tablets to search, read, shop and more. It’s frustrating for your customers or audience if they access your website, blog or social media sites only to find out that viewing content that is great on their computer, is not optimal on their phone or tablet. I know in my own experience that I simply give up if the content does not adapt to the screen size of the digital device I’m using. It’s worth allocating budget dollars to making this happen. A responsive website is vital if you want to create a positive experience for your viewers. They’ll hang around longer and keep coming back.

3. Social Marketing

Social marketing is all about using social channels to bring attention to your product or services with the desired outcome being increased traffic to your website and purchase of your services. However, another big benefit to go after is the development of an online community that promotes loyalty and sharing. In order to do social marketing successfully, you have to know your customers and audience. You must also know your product and services inside and out in order to present them effectively. Learn to use the content that works best on the various social media channels so that you entice more people to join and engage with you and each other.

4. Paid Ads on Social Channels               

Social advertising is an important aspect of any business that seeks to reach more people on social media. We see it all the time on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.  And more and more, we see news about other social networks that are considering joining them with paid advertising. Once again, it’s important to set a budget for this and even more important, to measure it’s success. Just as you do in social marketing, you have to know your customers and audience, and where they hang out. Focus on the channels where you get the most response and engagement. Test how your ads do and change them as needed.

There are many other trends in the world of social media, but these are the bigger ones that will take more planning and research to implement. But they pay off and the quicker you implement them, the more of a leader you’ll be seen in your industry, which puts you in the sight and mind of those you’re trying to reach.

What other trends have you noticed in social media that you think are worth putting into practice as part of a marketing strategy?