Believe it or not, it would be easy to wax poetic about everything that took place in the social media world this year. It would also be easy to go into an exceedingly verbose rant about subpar WiFi at digital media conferences as well. Since we don't have 12 years to spare for either of these as 2012 comes to a close, let's take a look at some of the moments provided by 12 of the most popular social networks including ups, downs, milestones and other miscellanea. And yes, I did get a 12.12.12 reference in there a bit late.
Social media's favorite blue bird went through a makeover in 2012. First, the twitter bird changed its hairstyle and got the avian equivalent of a tan. Please note: whatever you do, make sure to never flip the bird. Twitter's brand police will have some things to say and not even Batman will be able to save you. Twitter also introduced a change to the design of their user pages with the addition of a header photo. We discussed Twitter's design changes a few months ago, but the roll-out is now complete as of yesterday. If you haven't added your header photo yet, you should now otherwise your avatar is floating about in the dark abyss. The biggest news from Twitter this year has been about its new API restrictions and the subsequent disappointment from many users regarding the once fully open domain. We hope all beef is quashed soon though. Our social media channels shouldn't be fighting with other. That's not very social. However, speaking of fighting with Twitter…
The public's (and every hipster's) favorite photo sharing application had a rather big year in 2012. To begin, they finally introduced and Android version. Now the vast majority of smartphone users can filter a picture of their double cappafrappa upside down latte for all of their friends to see. Did I mention that I often speak with #nofilter? This addition to Instagram's portfolio surely helped expedite and justify the purchase of the company by Facebook. Many felt that this partnership was inevitable - a sentiment only strengthened by Instagram's new web interface. Some say that this new web presence resembles their funder's design. If you want my opinion, I'll just say, "#nofilter."
Pinterest may very well be the social media darling of the year. While the early adopters may claim to have been using their wish boards for anywhere between two and 14 years, Pinterest used its visual power to not only grow their own company, they cultivated a crew of curators to collect more conspicuous content. Say that three times fast. All jokes aside, Pinterest is easily the company that made people realize the importance of visual content. The engagement statistics and referral traffic from Pinterest is near mind-boggling for a digital enterprise with so much room left to grow. And if anyone wants to know how to leverage (buzzword bingo) this channel, you can break Pinterest success into 8 simple steps for them.
Everyone knows YouTube and while they just redesigned their users' homepages, I'd rather simply leave you with the most popular YouTube video EVER (and for those of you hoping to see the Biebs, NEWSFLASH - it's no longer him:
I don't mean to sound like a broken record here, but our B2B intensive representative, LinkedIn, is one of the web properties that went through some design changes - proof positive that an inviting and functional user experience is necessary for success. Their first design change came with their iPad App. They brought forth a much more visual interface that is similar to an online magazine. Although some were perplexed by the missing job finding functionality, feedback was pretty positive and allowed LinkedIn to bring more new design attributes to the website with Company Pages and the new rollout for personal pages. LinkedIn has also both pushed their ad platform more and introduced a new API for ads that is being used by Adobe, Bizo and Unified Social. As you can see, they are looking to make some major moves in the business space. 2013 should be a very interesting year for them.
Even though people talk about G+ as if it were an unwanted stepchild, the giant company's foray into the social space is growing at a rate similar to that of Facebook in its first year. Additionally, G+'s mystery is more than likely clouding the value that it actually presents at this time: Helping bring familiarity in search results through +1's; The growing popularity of Google Hangouts helped by The Muppets and Daria Musk; The introduction of G+ Local which will soon replace Google Places and help power local search; and The newest introduction of Google+ Communities, a move that many in the industry is directed at Facebook Groups. Just keep in mind, before you talk about G+ failing, you're still talking about Google. They probably have a lot more in store.
Hybrid social network and blogging platform may have quietly had the best year in terms of setting up their long-term success. Their popularity continues to grow and they finally started releasing the numbers to prove it. As of right now, Tumblr has almost 85 million blogs that have created 37.0 billion posts that people like, share and reblog all over the internet. Also, nearly 18 billion monthly page views and 89 minutes per user per month are impressive numbers too. Tumblr has made its real noise this year partnering with popular brands, named 12 of the biggest creative agencies to its A-List, and opened its own analytics platform so that users can measure all that is happening on their sites. They've obviously realized their own importance and are giving their users the ammo to communicate why Tumblr can be a powerful tool. Who woulda thunk a bunch of silly animated animal GIFs would create a business like this?
The good folks over at Yelp have had a rough year. Companies paying for positive reviews, companies suing Yelp and its user for negative reviews, everyone waiting for the IPO; all of these have led some to question the review site's credibility. With that being said, people still use Yelp fiercely to voice their opinions and the company is still doing all it can to change its view in the public eye. Yelp's teaming up with Apple's iOS6 through Apple Maps and Siri seemed to be moves in the right direction. We all know what teaming up with a brand with an extremely loyal following can do to help your brand, right? Teaming up with Apple is one of those things that can help crea… excuse me? Hold on, what was that? Um…
The company that made the check-in famous has had a pretty decent 2012. While people were calling for its demise-all they did was grow their user base, move into a beautiful new office in SoHo, make marked improvements on their mobile app and site, and started to roll out more review based capabilities. And then this happened… On Thursday, December 13, 2012 top decision maker at Foursquare, Dennis Crowley, went out to San Francisco to speak with Apple SVP of Internet Software and Services, Eddy Cue. Word on the tweets has it that their discussions will revolve around deep software integration with Apple iOS or maybe even acquisition. What does mean for Foursquare? What does it mean for Yelp? What does this mean for all of my mayorships?! Only time will tell.
Ever hear the term Social TV? This is the easiest way to explain where GetGlue fits into the social realm. Essentially, GetGlue is Foursquare for television, movies and sporting events - further slowing my mission of mayoral domination over all I survey. Users check-in, comment and drive conversation around what they're watching and receive stickers and, of course points. While the idea of Social TV slowly grows, it will be very interesting to see how influential GetGlue will be. However, it is growing at a rate for it to be worth mentioning here and who wouldn't want that?
Yes, you read this right. While Myspace never actually shut down when Tom Anderson left to go on "vacation", things went bad very quickly for the once uber-popular social service. Enter Justin Timberlake and a totally new visual interface. The network, still very popular with those in the music industry, is being watched by all to see if they can make a comeback. Plus, they had an absurdly cool looking video to announce their return. Will we all return to see the picture of Mr. Anderson (wasn't he in the Matrix) giving us the thumbs up? You'll have to wait for your invitation to see. So, 12 sites for 2012 and I'm already out of breath. But 2013 will only provide us with a multitude of new networks to join, learn and figure out. That is if we get past December 21... Did I miss big social updates in 2012? Feel free to tweet at me @Mr_McFly or @BFMweb.