2014 was the year social media came out of the entertainment niche, to become as crucial for marketing strategies as other disruptive technologies (cloud, apps, content platforms, wearables). In the near future Facebook, Twitter & Co. will be even more relevant to create customer engagement and improve loyalty, fully delivering on the promise of the Age of the Customer. Here are the top 5 social media trends for 2015, that show how networks will evolve to connect brands with customers, and foster conversions.

Social media already are an essential part of the marketing mix, ideal to help companies with the business transformation for the new hyper-connected world. As the social layer covers our ecosystem, new networks spread out of your desktop computer to communicate with mobile devices. Investing in disruptive technologies is crucial to take a step forward in the digital shift, but investment doesn’t itself equate to real change without a new vision, that goes from brand identity, to products, to content marketing.

Brands, retailers above all, know that in this new paradigm, the customer - not the product - should be the core of every strategy. Social media marketing has the potential to improve the connection between companies and clients, to increase customer engagement and encourage repeat sales. But if you have high hopes for bringing in customers through your social presence, be aware that technology evolves with society, and the way you used social media last year won’t work effectively in the next one.

The following predictions outline the most effective ways to engage with current and potential customers on social media in 2015.

  • Evolution of content: we all know that content is the king, and it will be even more in 2015. Great visual and paid advertising are essential to attract people, but only quality content will keep them coming back. The passage from casual user to loyal customer will force brands to focus their efforts on building and nurturing their customer communities. You won’t stand out if you can’t offer a unique content marketing, starting from your brand identity and customers’ needs, to shape an effective storytelling.

  • Privacy friendly networks: as companies become able to collect user data and information - through social media, mobile and wearable devices - privacy becomes one urgent concern. The birth of privacy-savvy social networks (i.e. Ello, Snapchat, Secret, Whisper and the anonymous chat Rooms by Facebook) is just the first step in a process that will redefine the concept of what we call ‘private’.

  • Social shopping: in 2015 we expect a deeper integration between e-commerce and social media. In the last few months Twitter and Facebook have began beta-testing ‘buy’ buttons, to allow users to make purchases without ever leaving their site. Delivering real-time connections, social networks already seemed a perfect medium to offer short term and personalized deals; but it didn't work in the past. In addition, Facebook is working on a ‘social wallet’ feature to enter the race of mobile payments. The company endgame is not clear yet: earn from fee charging? Sell customer data? Enhance social advertising?

  • Social and mobile unite: wearable technology and smart objects are ready to reshape the digital customer experience. The interconnection between devices - through Internet, Wi-Fi or Bluetooth Low Energy - will bring smartwatches, activity trackers and smart glasses to the social era. Companies will embrace the power of the Internet of Things to revamp their strategies with gamification, push notifications, sharing, likes, iBeacons, geofencing, widgets and check-in. In few words: smart devices will prove their social intelligence; social and mobile will unite; real-time personalization will finally become reality.

  • Analytics go social: in 2015 a bigger part of marketing budget will shift to mobile and social investments. Brands will reinforce actual products and look for new ways to improve their strategies. New devices (i.e. wearables) will bring to the explosion of Big Data: numbers and statistics will guide every creative brief, and companies will battle to regain their lost organic reach investing in social analysis. Data-informed actions will bring to the development of new best practices for content, promotions and engagement. To hold everything in check, social media platforms will become one of the main digital customer experience tools.

While traditional marketing tactics are still in play, your business should add social media marketing to its plan. Why? Because today a great content strategy is not even conceivable without all the big and small networks that help understand customers, build engagement and retain loyalty.

If you want to know how to effectively add social media to your digital customer experience, download the free DCX 7-Steps Checklist crafted by Neosperience, with requirements and insights for a successful digital transformation.