It was certainly a year to remember. A 9.0 magnitude earthquake and tsunami shook Japan resulting in an unfathomable disaster. The world mourned the deaths of Steve Jobs and Amy Winehouse and happily said goodbye to Osama Bin Laden, Moammar Gadhafi, and most recently Kim Jong Il.
On a lighter note, we also celebrated the Royal Wedding (no, not Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries) and the return of Mufasa!
As 2011 comes to a close, we here at Clix are especially interested in the major events in social media. From the fall of several corrupt North African regimes to the rise of Rebecca Black, some of the most influential events of 2011 were delivered through social media.
Social Media Redesigns
Lets start with the most obvious events in social media – the dreaded redesigns.
2011 was a good year for Facebook. The social network reached 8 million users, it survived the launch of Google Plus, and it integrated several new features including Skype and Spotify. Most notably, though, 2011 also brought us Facebook Timeline.
Though Facebook is notorious for introducing new services and altering the design, Timeline is by far the biggest Facebook overhaul to date. It was first introduced at the F8 conference in September, and after months of unexplained delay, finally became available to the public in December. Timeline essentially converts your social profile into an illustrated history of your life. It is a major integration of social media as a permanent aspect of our lives. If you haven’t installed timeline yet, what are you waiting for? Clix has a handy guide to setting up Facebook Timeline to help you out.
Not to be outdone by Facebook, Twitter also made some major developments in 2011. The profile saw some subtle changes such as the introduction of photo galleries and the end of old twitter (stay tuned for more twitter updates in the very near future).
The biggest innovation on Twitter of 2011, though, came in the form of promoted tweets. Since its rise to popularity in 2009, its developers had been trying to make it profitable and marketers had been trying to use it reach their desired audiences. Promoted tweets achieved both goals. Expect to see this trend throughout social media in the future (including Facebook in the very near future).
Lets not forget the internet search giant. 2011 was a huge year for Google’s integration of social media.
After its announcement in the spring of 2011, the social media community created a lot of buzz (no pun intended) about Google Plus. Though Google had tried (and failed) at several social network ventures before including Buzz and Wave, Plus seemed to have the most potential to make a significant impact in social media. It had a lot of promise: users loved the simple integration of Circles and Hangouts, and its public launch in September brought a 1200% activity increase. Unfortunately, the public struggled to figure out where Google Plus fit in their lives and traffic dramatically fell. Still, they launched Google Plus brand pages in November. 2012 will likely be a deciding year for the fate of Google Plus. Whether it survives or joins the many other Google social attempts in the Google graveyard, Google Plus marks a huge milestone in the integration of Social Media and SEO.
As usual, social media played a huge roll in pop culture in 2011. However, two of the biggest social media pop icons of the year were not who we would have expected.
Charlie Sheen took the media by storm in 2011. His public meltdown and chain self-inflicted humilities were splashed all over the media. And in response, the viewers turned to social media. Not only did Sheen establish the second most popular hashtag of the year, #TigerBlood, but he also entered the Guinness Book of World Records for Fastest Time to Reach 1 Million Followers with a time of 25 hours and 17 minutes. #winning
While no one could have guessed at the beginning of the year that Charlie Sheen would top twitter’s 2011 trending actors list, even more surprising is twitter’s highest trend in music: Rebecca Black. If you’re not familiar with Rebecca Black (or have been living under a rock for the past year) consider yourself lucky. Like the great Justin Bieber before her, Rebecca Black rose to fame via youtube. However, whereas JB had talent, all Rebecca Black had going for her was her nasally voice and some ESL student’s lyrics. And yet, Friday, her “hit” song, is Youtube’s most watched video of 2011.
It wasn’t all fun and games in 2011. Social media platforms were a major part of several important events and will undoubtedly go down in history.
Social Media Town Halls:
Making history for innovative uses of social media for politics is nothing new to President Obama. After all, social media was a huge factor in his 2008 campaign strategy. And in 2011 he continued his legacy as the first social media president by introducing social media town halls.
Obama held the first ever social media town hall on July 6 on Twitter. The public platform enabled wide scale participation resulting in over 40,000 posed questions. Since then several politicians have held social media town halls and political debates across social media platforms including Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Politicians have also found less productive ways to use Social Media. Who could forget former senator Anthony Weiner’s DM mishap?
Possibly the most memorable use of social media in 2011 (and history for that matter), social media’s biggest impact of 2011 occurred in the political uprisings throughout the Middle East and North Africa. Fueled by resentment at harsh government regimes, citizens throughout the Arab world used social media to spread uprisings and successfully overthrow corrupt political leaders in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya. As one activist tweeted, “We use Facebook to schedule the protests, Twitter to coordinate, and YouTube to tell the world.”
It was a big year for social media. This is by no means a comprehensive list. What events would you add?