According to Chinese Zodiac, 2015 is the year of the Sheep (Goat) – a Yin energy, a symbol of peace, harmonious co-existence and tranquility. In relation to social media marketing, that’s exactly what we’ll see happen. You’re probably saying out loud, “how”? In 2015, brands will share their story and communicate at a more intimate level, find peace with content marketing and feel the uptick in energy from their favorite social networks.

After reading social blogs, social feeds and engaging in recent fireside chats with colleagues and digital professionals, here are five social media trends that brands will cultivate during the year of the Sheep:

  1. Content marketing is now brand publishing.

Brands are now stepping up the way they market on social by becoming their own publishers. Brands are shifting from traditional social selling to social relationship building. That means sharing more intimate stories from both the brand’s and customer’s perspective and showing their ability to be authentic and transparent. It’s no longer about selling, but telling a story at any capacity, whether a blog post or tweet.

  1. Social wants to be your wallet.

Sayonara Visa! Major social networks like Facebook will be the new ‘everywhere you want to be’ when it comes to payment and shopping. Hacked in October 2014, a hidden payment feature was discovered inside Facebook’s Messenger app. If activated, it would allow the app’s 200 million users to send money to each other using a debit card absolutely free of charge. In the interim, Facebook has enabled an autofill feature to save credit card information and allows users to access 450,000 e-commerce merchants.

  1. Social video is on-demand.

With the rise of Instavid (you know, Instagram), Vine, Snapchat and Hyperlapse social video offers two major benefits for brands:

  1. Showing the human side of your brand with an emotional message.
  2. Getting in front of your audience.

Don’t hate the player, hate the game. Top brands will utilize images in motion like GIFs to capture and engage a larger audience.

Haters Gonna Hate

  1. Social ads. Mo’ money, mo’ problems.

Brands should be willing to open up the coin purse. Expect to see exciting new ways social advertising will integrate with brands’ databases and omnichannel strategies for better targeting and conversions. You’ve probably already seen new changes including auto-play video ads on Facebook and greater variety of Twitter cards.

Keep in mind, the better integrated social spend is with your marketing calendar, the more relevant and tailored your social advertising will be and the less users will feel commercialized.

  1. Customer service. You no longer have to press ‘0’.

Remember when 70% of companies weren’t engaging with their customers and fans on social? Well it’s long overdue for brands to seize the potential for customer engagement. With the number of options customers have to get a brand’s attention, brands can tap into current and new messaging platforms like Facebook and Snapchat to tackle questions at an intimate level and resolve concerns at a faster rate.

The Takeaway.

While these are trends and we have to have a ‘wait and see’ mentality, this is a good time to review your 2015 social media strategy and see if you can make any adjustments based on the five trends above. Sure, it may take more dollars and time from your creative and content teams, but in the end, your company will reap the benefits of peace and harmony.

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