December 10

A Look Back at Social Media in 2012

By Todd Bartlett

With the last month in 2012 coming to an end, let’s take a look back at some of social media’s biggest storylines such as acquisitions, network growth, and brand success stories to date.

Of all the social networks, Facebook is by far the one that has dominated the news for most of 2012. Facebook’s biggest news of the year was the launch of their initial public offering (IPO). On May 18th the world’s largest social network went public. However, things did not goes as planned. The stock was originally offered at $38 per share but due to technical difficulties and poor planning, the stock’s value immediately began declining. For several days after the launch of their IPO, Facebook’s stock price continued to plummet from $38 per share to $18 per share. Today, Facebook’s stock is selling for $21 per share leaving many to question the future of the social network.

In addition to going public, Facebook also made headlines with their purchase of the photo-sharing app, Instagram for a billion dollars. Many believe that Facebook acquired Instagram because they viewed them as a threat in the mobile space. Facebook has been known to provide a sub-par mobile experience at best. By purchasing the successfully mobile app, Facebook will be turning to Instagram employees to help them become a more mobile friendly company.

Although Facebook faced many critics by going public and with the purchase of Instagram, the social network still continues to grow. The company topped 1 billion users in October. Despite the fact that Facebook’s growth continues to shrink in the US, Canada, and Europe, the world’s largest social network is flourishing in emerging markets including India, Mexico, Brazil, the Philippines, and Indonesia.

Not all of Facebook’s news made major headlines in 2012. To increase revenue, in May, Facebook launched promoted posts. According to Facebook only 16% of your company’s fans will ever see your post in their stream. By using Facebook’s promoted posts your post will be seen by a greater percentage of people who like your page.

In another attempt to keep up with the competition while continuing to look for more avenues to generate revenue, Facebook is testing a new feature called “Collections.” This new feature, which many say resembles Pinterest, will allow retailers to add a “Want” button to news feed posts about products. By clicking the “Want” button, Facebook users will be able bookmark products that they would like to buy. The “Collections” feature will also provide a “Buy” button that will allow Facebook users to make a purchase offsite.

While it seems like 2012 has been the year of Facebook there are other social networks making news. One of the other social networks is Twitter. In 2012, Twitter bought the blogging platform Posterous, implemented targeted promoted tweets, and added branded company pages. Twitter also continued to grow as the company surpassed 500 million accounts with 140 million active users.

LinkedIn is another popular social network which continues to grow in both revenues and users. The company just released their Q3 earnings and because of rapid international expansion and increased customer engagement revenues grew by 81%. In 2012, the company redesigned the user profile, added new company pages, and introduced a LinkedIn app for the iPad.

Pinterest, the popular photo-sharing site, has increased substantially since it launched in September of 2011. The average user spends almost sixteen minutes on site during a visit. Pinterest also drives more referral traffic than Google+, YouTube, and LinkedIn combined.

Another social networking site that has increased in popularity through out 2012 was Tumblr. According toThe Next Web, in April of 2012 Tumblr hit 20 billion posts and neared 50 million hosted blogs doubling the micro blogging’s site in just over six months.

Google’s social media sites, Google+ and YouTube, also experienced explosive growth in 2012. Although many believe that Google+ has been an epic failure it is reported that the social media site will reach 400 million users by December 2012. YouTube, Google’s other social networking site, is still continuing to produce impressive statistics. So far in 2012, 72 hours of video were uploaded every minute. This figure is almost double the amount of video that was uploaded every minute last year.

Social media sites aren’t the only ones capitalizing on the social movement. Companies continue to take advantage of these platforms to build brand awareness, service and engage their customers, and sell products. Some of the most popular social media brands in 2012 were Coca-Cola, Target, Starbucks, Walt Disney, and IBM. What makes these brands successful is they understand their audience, they deliver interesting and relevant content, and they engage and respond to their audience.

What was your favorite social media moment from 2012?