When we think of social media, sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram spring to mind.

Facebook has nearly one billion users worldwide and a whopping 70% of all online adults are active Facebook users! 2013 was an amazing year for Twitter. It has seen more than 100million active daily users sending 300billion tweets since it launched in March, 2006. More than 60% of users access Twitter via their smartphone. It’s clear that there is a huge demand for social media that is only going to get bigger.

Interacting online with friends is a great way to keep up with them, particularly if they are far away, but what does this mean for business. Brands taking a considered approach now have an opportunity to engage with people ‘one on one’, beyond the traditional media routes to market. There are rules and businesses are having to learn the value of a more advice driven approach and the sharing of impartial content. People do not wish to be sold to in the ‘old school’ way of things ­– did they ever!

Powerful broadband networking, nano computer technology and the proliferation of ‘Smartphones’ have lead to the huge growth of information consumption ‘on the go’. The population is now constantly connected and plugged in, generating, sharing and consuming data at an incredible rate. Multi-channel media is continually developing. Now, in the US, more people watch YouTube than cable television! Driven by the changing dynamic leading brands are releasing marketing campaigns as videos on the Internet first, and on television later.

Some of the most successful campaigns of 2013 were online viral campaigns, such as the ad with the dancing pony for Three telecomms, or Dove’s real beauty sketches. Dove conducted a compelling social experiment that explored how women view their own beauty in contrast to what others see. What these ads all have in common is the fact they are engaging, thought provoking. There is no guarantee for success or a scheme to predict how or when a video might go viral, but that’s the beauty of it. It’s somewhat ‘Wild West’ aspects ensure the creative process has to be thoroughly well considered.

So what’s next? It’s clear that the rise and rise of social media will continue apace. There are thousands of app developers out there crafting their next big idea from Starscreener to JustSayin, an app which combines pictures, text and sound! This adds yet another dimension to the simple image exchange offered by apps such as Instagram and Pinterest. Whether you are sharing an insight into your life, taking a simple snapshot or ustilising these sites as a source of inspiration by creating visual mood boards, visual social media grew exponentially last year. There is no doubt that in 2014 we will see numerous apps created in the attempt to topple Instagram from the top spot – as we have already seen with Shots of Me, an app that was created purely to encourage selfies (and is appropriately financially backed by the very egotistical Justin Bieber).

Following on from the popularity of selfies and sharing online – and the fact that everything posted online is put out there in cyberspace and openly available to all – there is a growing social trend of disappearing, personal media. Look at Snapchat for example, a company that recently turned down a £1.9 billion pound bid from Facebook for their simple photo sharing app which once viewed are deleted in seconds. With over 360 million photos shared and then subsequently deleted, it seems that more and more people are noticeably seeking a little privacy online, so much so that usage of the service has doubled in recent months.

Social media has in recent years become the first place to go for news for many people. Who can forget the unfortunate news of Any Winehouse passing away being broadcast all over Twitter just minutes after her death, before her parents were even informed. And the Arab Spring enabling whole population to rise up against ‘the regime’. This is only going to become more common over the next year as more and more people record videos at the scene of an accident or crime, for example, and then share them online.

So what’s changed in my approach of using social media platforms? This year I am aiming to appeal to the masses with the content I upload – and believe you should be doing the same. Yes, you can be a very active user of numerous social websites, but I suggest that the content posted online is engaging, insightful and useful rather than the generic ‘boast posts’. Sharing an opinion, helpful advice or top tips are my personal aims for my use of social media in 2014. Here at Silver a growing proportion of our business is high quality content creation in the social space. We develop blog sites, gamification and an ever increasing amount of video content that is all promoted via the social networks. The future is bright – the future is social.