If 2013 was the year of social content, 2014 is the year of social context.

Over the past 12 months, brands and publishers have evolved their social marketing strategies from engaging with consumers on social networks to socializing their own websites, mobile apps and even advertisements.

While most brands now view social media as more of an opportunity than a threat, the rapid evolution of consumer behavior has resulted in new avenues for brands of all types to tell their stories.

If 2013 was the year of social content, 2014 is the year of social context. Consumers no longer just want to be heard and entertained, they want to be part of a larger story. Social marketing campaigns can no longer live in a silo — in order to succeed, brands need to create a narrative around campaigns that blend paid and earned media, driving consumers back to their owned properties to learn more.

Why is tweeting for the best-dressed celebrity on the red carpet at the Oscars so enticing? You’re not just talking to yourself, you’re engaging with a larger audience through broadcast tweets or a behind-the-scenes social hub. The individual now becomes just as much a part of the story as the celebrity themselves.

This year we will see more collaboration between traditional “communication” departments and creative/social than ever before. While many brands struggled in 2013 to manage and create these types of integrated campaigns, new technologies are emerging that blend real-time conversation, social curation and social advertising in a way that leverages user generated content to scale content creation.

For brands this means making better sense of socially activated experiences, surfacing the most interesting content (not just creating it themselves) and building useful and entertaining “products” out of their campaigns. I like to call this the “Old Time Radio” model of advertising — creating valuable and entertaining experiences — presented by your favorite brand.

In 2014 content is currency, with consumers increasingly acting as contributor to their own entertainment. Whether your content is about a Grammy-winning album, a branded social hub curating the best stories from the BBQ, or an interactive news piece, this audience contribution will become the cornerstone of growing and maintaining relationships with users.

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