It has been an eventful year for social media. Consumers are becoming even more mobile than last year. 57% of Facebook users use the platform’s mobile app. Twitter released their newly designed mobile and iPad apps earlier this year. The line between social and “traditional” media is becoming even more blurred as we see hashtags and links to social pages on our TV screens and in print ads. Pinterest’s unique visitors grew by a remarkable 1047% in 2012. There are several significant social media milestones that stand out in our minds for 2012. Here are a few highlights.
Kony 2012 Went Viral
Kony was a video that called for peace and ultimately became a phenomenon. The 30 minute video went viral. Kony was shared rapidly and viewed more than 100 million times in just 6 days, making it the most viral video ever. However, the excitement disappeared just as quickly as it spread. Critics slammed Invisible Children, the non-profit that released the video, for oversimplifying the issues in Uganda, for being a fad, for actually doing more harm than good, and for producing a slew of “slacktivists.” Additionally, Invisible Children’s co-founder Jason Russell, had a very public meltdown that occurred soon after.
Facebook Bought Instagram
The largest social network shelled out a whopping $1 billion to acquire the photo sharing app in April. Jaws hit the floor at the thought of such a large sum of money for such a “simple” application. (The public’s reaction was captured perfectly in a comic by The Oatmeal.) Instagram fans worried about the implications that the acquisition would have on their beloved app and community, while Mark Zuckerberg assured everyone that Facebook was “committed to building and growing Instagram independently” and not killing it off.
Facebook Went Public
The highly anticipated Facebook initial public offering started at $38 per share and for a while it was all anyone could talk about. In the first few hours, the biggest IPO in Internet history encountered a series of problems, with tens of millions of dollars in trades being wrongly placed.
Social Media Reacted to the Chick-Fil-A Controversy
After the fast-food chain’s COO made statements in an interview about his support of traditional marriage, information about the company’s past contributions to organizations against LGBT rights became the center of media attention. Same-sex marriage supporters, including a lot of celebrities, took to Facebook and Twitter to call for a boycott of the company, while the company’s supporters came to its defense. One such supporter was former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee who organized a highly successful “Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day” through Facebook. Regardless of where you stood on the issue, a couple things that are certain are that Chick-Fil-A was huge on social media this year, and that the buzz had very little to do with chicken.
NASA’s Curiosity Made the First Foursquare Check-in on Another Planet
In addition to checking in at various locations, the Mars Rover also tweeted from a first person point of view, using colloquial language and a killer sense of humor. The result was a highly engaging experience for followers, particularly a new generation of space travel enthusiasts, who were able to live vicariously through the experiences of a machine. Curiosity’s social media presence confirmed once and for all that science is cool.
Facebook Hit 1 Billion Users
The number one billion makes another appearance on this list as the milestone number of users Facebook reached this year. That means one in seven people on earth are on Facebook. It means that more than the combined total populations of the US, Indonesia, Brazil, and Pakistan, or more than the entire world population in the year 1800, is on Facebook. That’s a lot of statuses.
The 2012 Presidential Election Became the Most Social Election to Date
Compared to 2008, the amount of social media activity related to the election is astounding. And yes, President Obama’s post-victory tweet became the most retweeted to date. But it could be argued that the more memorable moments of the election were the more obscure internet sensations that such as #Eastwooding, #SaveBigBird, and #BindersFullOfWomen. Even if you weren’t watching the debates or conventions on TV, tweets containing those hashtags or something similar spread like wildfire, and subsequently everyone was talking about it the next morning.
Hurricane Sandy Became a Social Media Superstorm
East coast residents living through the storm took to social media for various reasons: to inform friends of their safety, to grieve their losses, to share photographs of the damage (and in doing so making it the most instagrammed event to date), and to obtain information pertinent to their neighborhoods such as power outages and public transportation statuses. In that week during the storm and its aftermath, we saw the best uses of social media’s capabilities - the quick sharing of information relating to rescue efforts, offers for help, emergencies and fundraising – as well as the worst – hoaxes, the spread of false information, and brands referring to the tragedy insensitively.
What social media moments do you think were the most memorable of 2012? Share your thoughts below!