In 2012, there were many changes across the established social media networks and exponential growth with a few of newest social media sites. The social media darling of 2012 was undoubtedly Pinterest, followed by Instagram, owing to their massive growth since 2011. Meanwhile the top news story, from a user experience perspective, was Facebook’s transition to the new Timeline format… a shift that caused major angst among users.
Statistically, the growth of social media usage and the accompanying use of mobile phones to engage in social media, saw a dramatic shift from 2011 to 2012. In Nielsen’s State of the Media: The Social Media Report 2012 , time spent on social networking sites went from 88.4B minutes to a whopping 121.1B minutes (a 37% increase) which is largely attributed to mobile applications and mobile web usage.
Pinterest is the Social Media Story of 2012
The virtual “pin-board” social media networking site came from almost out of no where and dominated the social media world for much of 2012.
Pinterest saw a 1,104% increase in visitors to the social site boasting the largest in YOY visitors growth of any social media network. (Nielsen) Users also spent the most time on Pinterest than any other social media site. The social network is dominated by female users (70% in fact). Cooking, fashion, design and weddings are the most popular topics. In early 2012, the big statistic being thrown around on tech sites like Mashable, was that Pinterest drives more visitors to third-party websites than Google+, YouTube and LinkedIn combined.
Facebook Launches Timeline for Profiles and Pages
Although it was announced in 2011, Facebook finally began rolling out the completely new design called “Timeline” for brands and, eventually, for all personal profiles. Initially, this announcement was tantamount to Armageddon among Facebook users that had come to love the simplified user interface of Facebook…an interface that made it very unique in the wake of the overly sensory MySpace era. With the roll out almost totally complete at the end of 2012, its funny that we’ve all grown completely used to Timeline.
Facebook Begins Official Roll Out of Sponsored Stories
Facebook begins rolling out its Sponsored Stories. An advertising format for businesses that puts their product/service front and center in their fan’s News Feed. These ads are marked as “sponsored” and only feature “stories” about your friends or Pages that you’ve already liked.
Gowalla Goes Under
Launched in 2007, Gowalla was a location-based service that was a direct competitor to foursquare. Facebook purchased Gowalla in December 2011 and 3 months later, Gowalla was officially shut down.
Instagram Finally Available to Android Users
To the dismay of Android users, until April 2012 the hugely popular photo-sharing mobile application was only available to ios iphone users. Following the launch of the Instagram Android application, the photo sharing site gained ten million new users within a 2 week time period.
Facebook Buys Instagram
Facebook announces that it will acquire the Instagram mobile application for $1 billion. At the time of the acquisition, Instagram (staffed by only 9 people) had roughly 50 Million users.
Facebook’s “Promoted Posts ” for Pages Officially Goes Live
The new ad revenue generating feature enables Pages with 400 or more fans to pay to “promote” their posts. When a business pays to promote a post, Facebook pushes that post higher in the News Feed for a fixed amount of time thereby guaranteeing that more fans of the Page see the individual post.
August & September
LinkedIn Announces Planned Roll Out of Redesigned Profiles and Company Pages
LinkedIn redesigned and streamlined the look and basic functions of Profiles and Company Pages. The more visual layouts are designed to simplify the user experience and call greater attention to important elements of Profiles and Pages. Some of the changes include:
- Recommendations are no longer required to have 100% complete profile LinkedIn removes the Twitter Feed Option from Profile status updates
- Skills and Expertise are more prominently highlighted on profiles, a supported by a new function called Endorsements
- Through “Endorsements,” LinkedIn helps you recognize employees and colleagues for their skills sets and areas of expertise. Now you can endorse your connections for a skill listed on their profile.
- On the right side of the Profile insights about your profile and relationship to your connections is delivered in a highly visual format
- New editing tools takes away the cumbersome process of building profiles
- Company Updates and the Products & Services sections of your page are now much more prominently displayed on company pages.
- Companies can now add a cover-style image or photography that features your company at the top the page
- Company Pages can be viewed on all mobile devices and phones
Facebook’s Begins Testing Another Redesign of the Personal Profile Timelines
Facebook begins testing a few design changes to the Profile pages that are apparently meant to simplify the busy look of the Timeline layout.
Pinterest Officially Introduces Business Accounts
This change was huge as Pinterest didn’t provide a platform or tools to enable businesses to engage in marketing activities on the actual social networking site. Instead they had to open Pinterest accounts as individuals thus blocking their ability to link to their Facebook Business Pages, websites and other online assets. Before the introduction of Business Accounts, the only tools available to businesses was integrating the “Pin It” and “Follow” buttons on their company websites.
Instagram Launches an All-New Desktop Version of Its Mobile App
Previously confined only to smartphone mobile applications, Instagram begins rolling out an all new desktop version.
Causing a major user revolt and outcry, Instagram announced a new intellectual property policy stating that it essentially has “the perpetual right to sell users’ photographs without payment or notification.” (cnet.com 12/17) In addition to the announcement, users that don’t delete their Instagram accounts by January 16, 2013, are not able to opt-out of this new policy.
Within 24 hours of the announcement, Instagram backed down on some of the language within the new policy stating that the language was confusingand they had no intent of selling photos without consent. Despite this a class action lawsuit was filed yesterday from a law firm in California.