Social media year in review

jpg_2013_bursting_open_boxThis has been the most spectacular year for those of us involved in social media. The entire industry has grown in leaps and bounds. More entrepreneurs and companies are using it to help grow their businesses. Athletes, musicians and individuals are so involved in social media that they use it multiple times every day.

Here are some of the highlights of 2012:

  • Facebook stock goes public. Mark Zuckerberg gets even richer.
  • Facebook buys Instagram for a big pile of money.
  • Obama is called the “cool” president, has impromptu visit on Reddit and crashes the system.
  • Infographics are on the rise, using pictures and words to get a message to huge numbers of people.
  • Twitter had a record number of tweets during Super Storm Sandy.
  • Angry Cat and other fun memes flood social media.
  • Pinterest becomes 6th most popular social media.
  • Finding lost kids is enhanced with social media. Since it is incredibly fast, it gets the word out almost immediately.
  • Gangnam Style goes viral. Do you know how to do that dance?
  • Find lost pets, rehoming pets. Gets the word out faster and to more people than traditional methods.
  • The new MySpace – it’s bigger, better than ever and making a comeback.
  • Instagram changes policy, people get angry, Instagram changes it back in a matter of a couple days.
  • School shooting in Newtown, CN has social media ablaze with outrage, gun control opinions, tributes and an outpouring of emotions.

No one wants to read text these days. That’s why this list is a list, in bullet form. Infographics are snowballing in popularity because the graphics make it simpler than a paragraph of words, to get the information to the masses. People all over the world want instantaneous information and they do not want to spend a lot of time reading it.

The best thing that happened in 2012 with social media is that people now take this method of communication seriously – more now, than ever before. So, here’s to the end of 2012 and to watching social media grow even bigger than anyone ever imagined in 2013!

Instagram chief bends to pressure

instagram changing their policyThe people have spoken. After the deluge of people bombarding instagram over their recently announced policies to take ownership of all photos beginning Janaury 2013, they have scrapped the idea.

Instagram CEO, Kevin Systrom wrote, “The concerns we heard about from you the most focused on advertising, and what our changes might mean for you and your photos.”

While claiming that people misunderstood his intentions, Systrom continued, “Because of the feedback we have heard from you, we are reverting this advertising section to the original version that has been in effect since we launched the service in October 2010.”

Once again, this is proof of how powerful social media is. In just a matter of a couple days, the photo sharing app changed its plan. The announcement was made, people were appalled and began deleting the app or simply stopped using it.

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, purchased the popular Instagram in 2012 for about a billion dollars in stock and cash. With over 100,000 million users, he could not afford for everyone to switch to another way to share photos.
Twitter is ramping up its photo sharing feature. It is now more flexible and user-friendly to compete with other apps. People can post pictures directly from the Twitter app. I often use this photo sharing feature when I am posting on Twitter.

When using a photo app to grow your business, there are so many options. During the past two days, I tried a number of other apps, but didn’t find anything that I liked as much as Instagram.

While Pinterest is a nice app, without the photo editing options Instagram has, it has a different focus. Pinterest is more about sharing photos you see on websites and less about promoting your own photos.

Since I am one of the multitude of Instagram users, I am thrilled that they will be changing their proposed plans. And I feel good about using the app again.

Instagram’s latest policy may cause them to go extinct

instagram will own photosAfter all of the great times we’ve had with Instagram, the latest news might be the end of the popular app. Starting mid-January, Instagram, which was recently purchased by Facebook, has the rights to use any photos posted on the app. They can even use the photos for the purposes of advertising their product or selling photos without even giving any credit to the person who took the photo. What’s up with that?

This is a perfect example of how social media can create change in a company. People have about a month to start bombarding Instagram with angry messages about how they want their photos to belong to them and not to be used or sold without compensation.

Recent updates have given more options to the Instagram app. They added another photo style and changed the look of the program. This is supposed to make it more attractive to users. But the idea of the program selling photos without compensating or even acknowledging their users seems a bit unfair. There are plenty of other companies, like Hipstimatic, will be happy to have new users switch to their product.

I noticed that a few of my Facebook friends posted that they closed their Instagram accounts today. National Geographic has suspended posting photos as of this evening. I have a friend who is a photographer for them and he makes crazy money on each photo. Knowing that Instragram can use photos for free that after they pay tons of money to their photographers is going to keep them from posting anything. Their pictures were honestly the most amazing things I’ve seen on Instagram [not including family stuff].

This situation is quite a big deal in the realm of social media. A lot of people promote their businesses by using this app, but are not going to give Instagram free access to photos they pay to use themselves.

You have until January 16, 2013 to quit using the app or accept the fact that your photos are no longer your own. There are other, not as popular photo apps, that can be used instead. Whether Instagram changes their policy may depend on complaints and whether or not people jump ship and stop using this app.

Facebook is down, OMG!!

facebook-went-offlineNo, the world didn’t come to an end last night. It just seemed that way when Facebook had a little hiccup. What would we do without Facebook? It has become such a part of everyday life that all other social media went crazy with comments about it, which is interesting in its own way.

I had the most amazing time during the 15-20 minutes Facebook was down. Honestly, with the panic that ensued, it seemed like the problem lasted a lot longer. At first I thought my internet connection went down. According to what I read, a lot of people had the same thought.

Some people did not lose Facebook at all. Others could use the mobile version. The fact that people even mentioned that, shows how much this social media is imbedded in our society. The website downdetector.com shows what sites are down at any given time. Check there before you panic!

Because the site is so popular, it demonstrates why every business should have a page and use it. You need to post on your Facebook page at least a few times a week, preferably every day, to get the most out of the site. Also, adding links to your regular website will help send traffic to the social media page.

Millions of people are using social media every single day. If you want to grow your business, you have to be a part of it. I met someone at an in-person networking event recently who told a business owner, “If you’re so great, why doesn’t anyone know about you?”

So true! Enjoy the fact that free social media sites are here for your business. Every now and then there is a little problem, but for the most part they are a presence that must be part of your marketing if you are to succeed.

Just for fun, here are some of the fantastic comments I read last night. I didn’t attribute these to the people who sent them in case they didn’t want their names mentioned.

I’m predicting an explosion of births nine months from today. #facebook

Thought I broke #facebook but apparently it’s just down at the moment…

I didn’t realize how much #facebook meant to me :'(

#facebook is the number one trend worldwide…. Oh the irony

#facebook is down, How will i know what everyone is eating right now?!?

Because #facebook was down, he turned his head only to discover that his wife left him months ago, that he was hungry and that he had to pee

#facebook is down, how will I know if my elderly next door neighbor is ok? I could knock and ask, but, face-to-face interaction, ewww.

This is Twitter in its prime; when #Facebook goes down and people need another social networking site to vent their frustration.

OMG #facebook is down. The Mayan doomsday calendar must be off by a few days.

Did social media hamper a police standoff

can-social-media-be-badLast weekend in Baltimore, a blogger was barricaded in his home while police tried to arrest him on an outstanding warrant. The warrant was had something to do with a firearms charge.

I watched it unfold on Twitter as one of the Baltimore Sun reporters was giving updates on his page about the police standoff that lasted over four hours. As the police negotiator trying to talk to the man on the phone, he was sharing the conversation in a live webcast.

In this case, did social media backfire? Not, really. The guy was eventually arrested.

Did it give an unfair advantage the man who was surrounded by police? No. Again, he was arrested.

Does social media sabotage the police in certain situations? Maybe, although I’m not so sure.

Did the general public learn the “secrets” to negotiations? Every negotiation is different, so I think not.

Everything has a good and bad side. Maybe this was one case where having access to the internet worked against the good guys. According to Baltimore police, they serve about a dozen of this type of warrant every day, usually without having their discussions broadcast all over the world.

There have been plenty of other times where internet access actually helps the good guys. And, in the end, the man was taken into custody without incident, just not before he pled his case to the public. Of course, he also let everyone know that he was about to be arrested. I’m not so sure that had him winning any new friends.

We always have to take the good with the bad, and try to turn the bad situations into a learning experience. Live webcasts can do a lot of good in the world.