From the Gulf oil spill to the FIFA World Cup, social media is all about events and issues that matter to people.
The year 2010 was a tipping point for social media. Interestingly, with one exception, 2010's social media highlights gained traction because something happening in the world resonated with social media users, generally news or entertainment related.
Let's review the top 10 social media highlights of 2010:
1. Facebook overtakes Google: Who's the 900-pound gorilla now?
2010 was Facebook's year. Choosing not to be bought out earlier in the decade, Facebook overtook Google as the biggest website in terms of market share in July and CEO Mark Zuckerberg was named Time's Man of the Year. Despite this, Facebook remains social media's bad boy in terms of its lack of concern for individuals' privacy and its propensity to act and apologize later. So, don't post anything that you don't want your mother, spouse, boss, or kids to see.
2. BP's oil spill: How delayed reaction and a self-centered CEO further damaged a firm's brand and reputation. Despite extensive crisis management and expensive advertising campaign, social media made a public relations nightmare exponentially worse. Most notable was the fake BP PR Twitter account, @bpglobalpr, that amassed 180,000 followers. While BP spill's dominated world news, Stephen Colbert tweeted:
Old Spice broke the rules of social media marketing with a two-day, 186 video campaign across social media platforms in real time. As tracked in terms of true reach by Visible Measures, the Old Spice viral video campaign had 69 million views, "The Man Your Man Could Smell Like" had 36.8 million, and "The Return of the Man Your Man Could Smell Like" had 22.7 million generating over 128.6 million views in total.
Aimed at repositioning your grandfather's "old" brand to a younger, social media savvy audience, Old Spice's viral video campaign media contributed to sales improvement (although there was a concurrent price promotion so actual results are difficult to discern).
4. LeBron James built social media platform for one message. For James, it was about the offer but he broke social media's implicit contract where we want to engage and feel our opinions count. James could have expanded his reach with fans by using a social media forum for his announcement while explaining it was about the game and teamwork. Instead, fans responded negatively.
5. Haiti earthquake causes tidal wide of social media. Social media replaced conventional communications when an earthquake struck Haiti earlier this year. Unable to get through otherwise, family, friends and the public turned to social media to connect with loved ones and get the latest news. Equally quickly, many not-for-profits, most notably the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund, leveraged social media and mobile marketing to raise over $2 billion for Haiti in just six months.
6. Social Media Day connects offline. Mashable declared June 30, 2010 Social Media Day. With over 700 Meetups across six continents many streamed live, the day was more than a dialogue, it was a global event, online and offline.
7. FIFA World Cup Soccer: Is the Vuvuzela more annoying than spam?
Based on Twitter's analysis, three World Cup soccer-related terms, FIFA World Cup, vuvuzelza and Pulpo Paul, dominated the top 10 Twitter trends. Since soccer is a distinctly non-U.S. game, these trends shows that Twitter's become an international social media platform.
8. Groupon: Does buying together make cents?
Was it hubris or a smart move for cash positive Groupon to walk away from Google's $6 billion offer? To date, although Groupon's been positive for consumers, it's ruffled some small businesses.
While time will time, if Groupon's easy-to-imitate model can maintain its advantage against Google's local reach and broad connections with businesses large and small.
9. Social media starts tracking: Justin Bieber has more "Klout" than Obama. Part of social media marketing's tipping point is the fact that marketers and businesses are moving beyond testing to measuring its impact. While social media rock stars like Chris Brogan and Peter Shankman don't require special analyses, Klout, with its pluses and minuses, has gained traction with buzz and score comparison across Twitter and Facebook. But there's problem when Justin Bieber is the only person on Klout to have a perfect score, sorry Mr. President.
During 2010, Twitter's revenue model started to emerge and the company received a $200 million cash infusion.
This list shows that, at its core, social media is about what matters to the public including prospects, customers, suppliers, distributors, the press and other groups. Bear in mind that this audience isn't limited to the U.S.; it's international based on World Cup Soccer's Twitter strength. Further, don't sell old media short! It still drives impressions, at least on television as shown by Old Spice and Stephen Colbert's Golden Tweet Award.
What do you think of this list? Are there any other social media events that you'd add to it? If so, please include your suggestions in the comment section below.
Wishing you and yours a happy and healthy New Year.
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Heidi Cohen is the President of Riverside Marketing Strategies, an interactive marketing consultancy. She has over 20 years' experience helping clients increase profitability by developing innovative marketing programs to acquire and retain customers based on solid analytics. Clients include New York Times Digital, AccuWeather.com, CheapTickets, and the UJA. Additionally, Riverside Marketing Strategies has worked with numerous other online content/media companies and e-tailers.
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