It’s been a great year to work in the realm of social media. Sure, there were frustrating moments when the Twitter server went down (with Instagram’s server going down the day before, what was a social media guru to do?!), but each platform in this field has grown, and has come a long way when looking back to where they were at in 2011.
In late December of 2011, Facebook introduced its latest layout: the Timeline. While the feature was optional for users in 2011, Facebook moved Timeline to be permanent upon every user’s profile in 2012. This meant that more content (posts, status updates, pictures, activity by the user, etc.) was available to be seen by browsers with a simple scroll. With this “Timeline” came the option to add a “cover photo” to your profile. Then, in addition to cropping your photo horizontally for the cover photo, Facebook implemented a mandatory square-crop on pictures to be used for a user’s profile photo. This works perfectly for those wishing to use an Instagram shot as their profile picture, but was frustrating to some users who didn’t appreciate the constraints of a square on their portrait-length pictures. But, to make up for that irritation, users can enjoy a 2012 “year in review” timeline when visitng their own profile. By clicking on this review, the user is then shown a changing collage of their own pictures, and 20 top events from the past year that were posted at some point on their timeline.
Aside from the changes implemented for users, let’s discuss the changes for businesses. Facebook is still currently changing their offers and options for advertising through Facebook, like promoted posts and the “want” button (see more about the Want button here). The social media platform sought to expand their outreach to not just personal use, but to businesses looking to engage with an audience that already exists on the website, and succeeded in doing so. Now, whether you are a large corporation, small company, non –profit charity, a professional photographer or even just a personal blogger, the chances are high that you have created a separate page for your business/hobby/cause.
The status-based platform (that allows users to express their thoughts and opinions in 140 characters or less) saw tons of growth throughout 2012. The social media platform that created the craze for #hashtags saw a 150% increase in user growth throughout the year, and 350% increase in tweets sent out on a daily basis. The company is doing so well that there is rumor they will be looking to open up a few offices in France in this next year.
Two big events took center stage on Twitter in 2012. The second biggest moment occurred when President Barack Obama sent out a tweet saying “Four More Years” with an attached picture of him hugging his wife just after hearing of his victory in the election. This tweet was then re-tweeted (re-shared by other users) more than 810,000 times. But, the biggest event in the past year for Twitter was their involvement during the Olympics in London. Twitter received over 15 million tweets geared toward the London Olympics in a span of 16 days. The London Olympics 2012 channel even made their own Twitter account (@London2012), with over 1.5 million followers still connected to them now in December, months after 2012’s closing ceremony.
Other Social Media Sites
Collectively, platforms like Pinterest, Instagram, FourSquare, Tumblr, Blogger, and others alike have given users an opportunity in 2012 to socially connect and interact with others while sharing their interests and opinions. Pinterest.com made waves as one of the social media sites able to grab users that don’t use other social media platforms. Allowing users to create boards and “pin” their favorite images, tutorials, recipes, apparel, etc., Pinterest was effectively able to draw the interest of a new, unique audience on the web.
Similarly, Instagram jazzed up their mobile applications this past year. They fixed the Android application at the beginning of 2012, allowing Android users to take advantage of the blur tool already presented to iPhone users in the previous years. The photo-sharing platform also added FourSquare, Flickr, and Tumblr to their list of sharing options when uploading a photo.
FourSquare continued to create new “badges” for avid users who checked in to various locations, like the “I Voted” 2012 badge for those who checked in at a polling place. YouTube also took the liberty of fully integrating themselves with other platforms run by Google (blogger, Gmail, Google+) by allowing users the opportunity to switch their username and profile to instead link up with their Google+ accounts.
With 2013 just around the corner, many are scratching their heads at what could be “the next big thing” to come in social media. It seems that there are new tweet-adder programs and all-inclusive social media managing sites popping up daily. There are rumors on social networking news of a real, working “Un-Friend” program that syncs all of your accounts onto one platform and gives reports as to who unfriends, unfollows, and unlikes your profiles/pages that is said to launch in 2013.
On the rise right now, and likely to become more prevalent in the new year is the renovated MySpace, tweaked by Justin Timberlake to be much more geared toward music. Smaller consumer-geared sites are making their debut at the end of 2012, like Wanelo and Poshmark.
There’s no doubt that Twitter will continue to be a prevalent digital source for social networking, but have you noticed that your pictures from Instagram are no longer displayed under your “Twitter Pics” tab online? It will be interesting to see how Twitter and Instagram get along in the New Year.
Keep your eye out for new video-sharing and editing platforms, as well as bigger video integration on current social media platforms. With the average American having either a smart phone or a tablet, the likelihood of them taking videos/pictures and wanting to share them with the world in a hassle-free way becomes greater.