As 2014 comes into view, social media is no longer an option for businesses. In 2014, the importance of social media for marketing will be fully recognized and businesses not optimizing social media platforms will be left behind—sad, lonely relics devoid of the customer reach potential, brand development and even SEO value of active social media engagement.

Don’t let your business become a #dinosaur!

For 2014, strategies, from optimizing LinkedIn for showcasing your business to embracing the SEO value of Google+ and Google Hangouts, will morph businesses into social media champions. Creative content will drive outreach over LinkedIn, Google+, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube and more social media platforms—supporting the creative content businesses are generating to bolster their own unique blogs.

Check out these four tips for making the most of #socialmedia in 2014! #NoDinosaursAllowed

Showcase LinkedIn: In late 2013, the "social network for professionals" launched LinkedIn Showcase Pages, an opportunity on LinkedIn where companies can freely publish information related to a specific area of their business. According to the world’s definitive professional publishing platform, the debut of LinkedIn Showcase Pages enables companies to better position brands by sharing more relevant, targeted information. With Showcase Pages, businesses can expand their reach beyond current followers by promoting content through Sponsored Updates, enabling brands to directly share from a Showcase Page to members’ feeds on desktop, smartphone and tablet. Showcase Pages can be created by a current company page administrator who then can add more administrators to manage the new pages. LinkedIn is encouraging businesses to make good use of the new platform, emphasizing the importance of visual elements, unique content and embedded videos. The more visually interesting a company’s LinkedIn Showcase, the better the audience—and the greater its followers! #LovinLinkedIn

Google+ Time: Does your company have a Google+ account? If not, create one today! Google+ has made significant progress in becoming a huge social media network, with a 225 percent increase in users age 35-44 and the emergence of Google Hangouts for product demos, business meetings and more B2B applications on the Google+ platform. If your business is on Facebook and Twitter, get your social media groove on Google+ too or get ready to be left out of the SEO benefits Google is positioning for its prized social platform. #GoGoogle


You Outta Be On Pinterest: The saying,"A picture if worth a thousand words," has never been more potent for businesses. Creative graphics, including infographics and branded overlays, are raging on social media—with no end in sight. Want to convey your company’s best attributes? Say it in pictures! Based on the staggering statistic that articles with images receive an additional 94 percent more views, you company really should maximize the value of imagery to shine a spotlight on services. With social networks such as Pinterest and Instagram growing and growing, businesses need to think visually in 2014 to deliver the most comprehensive of marketing campaigns. #SayCheese

Blog Like a Bulldog: Throughout 2013, the term "content marketing" has been used with greater acceleration—momentum businesses no longer can ignore. Content strategy and content management are today critical components of any well-conceived marketing campaign. According to the B2B Content Marketing 2014 Benchmark Study by the Content Management Institute, 44 percent of B2B marketers have a document content strategy and 73 percent of B2B organizations have someone in place to oversee content marketing. Additionally, 78 percent of the most effective B2B marketers are creating more content than they did one year ago! What does that mean for your business? It’s a warning sign: If you are not creating content—including unique blogs and robust social media sharing—you are putting your business in a position to be overlooked by current and potential customers. #GetBlogging #ContentMatters

As social media platforms, opportunities and creativity continue to evolve throughout 2014, progressive businesses will embrace the need for content generation and exploit the nuances of individual social media platforms. Social media is here to stay; it is not a passing marketing fad, people, so start engaging. #BeSocial2014

Marie Alonso is an online marketing and media strategist at Miles Technologies, a leading IT company. The Miles Technologies team contributes business-driven content to The VAR Guy regularly.