Do a Google search for “Top Marketing Trends for 2014” and you’ll find 182,000,000 results. Whoops – make that 182,000,001. But with so much chatter out there about the year ahead in marketing, what approaches are you willing to align with? Here’s the problem: Many of these claims are not trends at all but simply predictions based on what’s trending at the moment. On the other hand, some viable trends have certainly gained speed in 2013 and are poised for growth in the years ahead. So, we’ve combined our own crystal ball with key marketplace insights over the past year to come up with the top five killer marketing trends to pay attention to in 2014.

Mobile Marketing

2013 was certainly the year of mobile. But be honest – how prominent was your mobile marketing effort? Well if it’s not a key part of your navigation strategy next year, you’ll completely miss your turn. Think about it, 5 billion people will use mobile phones by 2017. Over 39 percent of time people spend on the Internet is done through smartphones, while 12 percent is done through tablets. That’s more than half of all time spent online! And with the introduction of new laptop/tablet hybrids, the total number is projected to grow significantly in the next three to five years.

Real-Time Marketing

The rise of blogs and social media means that marketers must keep a close ear to all of the day-to-day chatter while also evangelizing their key audiences. Now more than ever, an attack on your reputation has the potential to spread like wild fire. But instead of smothering trees, it can leave an indelible mark on millions of impressionable online communities. So, the ability to leverage smart data insights in real-time will go a long way in addressing content that disrupts a brand. The key is creating flexible and highly-responsive messages that can be applied across the board.

Helping—Not Selling

How may I help you? As Jay Baer proclaims in his book Youtility, the key to success is helping – not selling. Marketers who provide helpful content meant to answer real, human questions will rise above the tricksters who try to game search engines. While the helpful sentiment has long been the gold standard for social media marketing, it is transforming into a winning marketing mindset – one with the power to affect everything from customer service to vendor relations. Word of caution: while this trend will continue to grow, it’s not necessarily a way to grow a brand. In fact, not all good deeds lead to good results. Check out this post, which highlights how brand marketers are on a bridge to nowhere.

Content Overload

Make no mistake about it, great content is a valuable commodity now – but in 2014, it will be even greater as we move into content overload. To date, there are more than 73 million Word Press sites alone. The proliferation of online content will only continue. But, while there are plenty of channels to consume information, the lines between mediocre content and great content are becoming more defined. And those who end up on the wrong side will be left behind.

Employee Engagement

In my post, The Shocking Truth: Executives Remain Oblivious to Social Media, I mentioned a fast-growing marketing trend that involves engaging employees to be brand ambassadors. This promises to be huge going into 2014 as companies look for ways to redirect the social media activities of employees to benefit the bottom line. This approach helps motivate employees through involvement, but it actually helps companies move their brand needle through organization-wide social media efforts. Activate your employees in 2014!

Article by Bryan Evans, Vice President of Outreach at Scribewise