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From the birth of a Royal Baby to the Harlem Shake to Miley Cyrus' transformation and the loss of a global icon – this past year has been full of story lines that captivated the world and influenced the social media landscape.

As we look back on the defining moments of 2013, it's worth noting the influential brands and social trends that emerged as leaders and will set the stage for next year.

In early 2013, we saw real-time social media posts hit prime time. Is there anyone who doesn't have a new appreciation for Oreos? What would normally take hours to craft and get approvals for, Oreo did in minutes. The Super Bowl Tweet re-tweeted around the world positioned the famous cookie brand as a strategic leader, demonstrating the value of timeliness in a digital environment that waits for nobody.

With the Sochi Olympics only months away, which company is going to surprise us and put their name on the international stage. Obama has done it with his move to send two iconic gay athletes in his place, but there is enormous room for others to make a move.

Customized content was another trend that made its mark this year. My column last week discussed Kringl, a 'proof of Santa video app' that provides users with a pre-selected scene which can be overlaid on a film shot in the user's living room. This and other campaigns like Honda's #WantNewCar show how leveraging user-generated content creates sharable content that is way more successfully than pushing out your own advertising.

And it's not just customization that matters – fully integrated campaigns will dominate next year if the success of the Dodge Ron Burgundy campaign is any indication. This campaign had it all: from video content to an unexpected brand partnership and the pairing of social media accounts with traditional advertising. Spanning months of success, its longevity indicates this creative campaign found completely non-traditional ways to engage their audience through an already fresh campaign platform. And if early sales are any indication, the campaign paid off with $2.3-million in the first evening of screenings.

Sneaking in before the New Year, we saw wearable technology take centre stage just in time for the 2013 holiday season. Leading brands like Nike, Sony, Samsung, Pebble and Google have dominated this trend, setting the stage for a competitive and innovative 2014. As a high-demand Christmas gift Juniper Research says 2014 will be a 'watershed year' for wearable devices. In fact, the mobile smart wearable device market is set to reach $19-billion by 2018; the retail revenue for the market this year is $1.4-billion. It will be exciting to see where that trends goes at the Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas early next year and what brands do to garner consumer interest and imagination around wearable tech.

What else can we expect to see more of in 2014? Connected devices, for one. Earlier this year it was predicted that mobile devices would outnumber people before next year and more recently Statista revealed that by 2017, five billion people will own mobile devices. While 2013 certainly owned the "BYOD" trend, 2014 is going to take it a step further. We are about to enter the year of connected devices–also being referred to as, the "internet of everything". It's no longer enough to just receive and send e-mails from your mobile device; consumers will soon expect access to this and more across all of their devices. Businesses that want to be at the forefront of leadership will recognize this trend and use technology to align their company values with increased consumer convenience.

2013 was a year of digital dominance. Brands married sharp creativity with the ever expanding world of technological capacity, resulting in some of the most timely, customizable and memorable campaigns we've seen yet.

So what does 2014 have in store? Expect many of the 2013 trends to become even more prominent and mainstream in the year ahead and continue to search for the unexpected.

Mia Pearson is the co-founder of North Strategic. She has more than two decades of experience in creating and growing communications agencies, and her experience spans many sectors, including financial, technology, consumer and lifestyle.

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