The Crystal Ball: Social Media Trends in 2013
In 2012, Facebook and Twitter gave us a glimpse of a mind-boggling array of topics, like Neil Young's rise prominence and the popularity of "50 Shades of Grey". These results reflect the past year, but others give us a glimpse into the future. They start conversations at New Year's parties a give us a peek into 2013. After all, Janus, the two-faced god and January's namesake, looks both to the past and the future.
Move Over Instagram, Make Way for Snapchat
If you thought Facebook's Timeline feature, or emerging networks like Tumblr and Pinterest, was the most popular, you're wrong -- it was Instagram. The photo sharing site generated the most buzz. Teen and tweens fueled its blistering growth, capped off with a Zuckerberg buyout for an eye-popping $1 billion.
Facebook, meanwhile, will continue to pursue crucial advertising dollars while trying to keep its site attractive and private, but it's also determined to stay on the cutting edge, particularly as rivals like Snapchat begin to gain momentum. To stay ahead, Facebook will release a photo and messaging app of its own. So if you want to share a stupid moment, but worry about leaving a trail of evidence, it'll give you peace of mind knowing sensitive data goes "poof" after a few seconds. In a day where smartphones are simple to hack, it's easy to forget about questionable material -- and the consequences can be devastating. In October, Snapchat reached 20 million "snaps" a day, and the service will continue to make waves in the coming year.
Politics on Twitter -- In Real-Time
Barack bested Bieber. Hashtags replaced man-on-the-street interviews and people flocked to Twitter to talk about live events, like the Super Bowl, Olympics and investigation into Whitney Houston's death. The community, which report events sooner than any television station, boasts more than 140 million active members. And, according to top trends, the U.S. election was one of the most viral moments in the history.
For example, on Election Day, Twitter recorded more than 31 million related tweets, with the conversation hitting a peak of more than 327,000 tweets per minute. When President Obama posted his "four more years" tweet, right before giving his acceptance speech, it zoomed to top the list as the most viral tweet of the year with more than 800,000 retweets, leaving Justin Bieber's most popular post of 220,000 retweets, far behind. Political hashtags, like #tcot, #teaparty, #gop and #romney also took home the top honors, and engaged people across the country on the candidates and their viewpoints, campaigns and conventions. Twitter was also used to gauge public sentiment about politics and timely events, replacing traditional methods of newspapers, newscasts, letters to the editor and man-on-the-street interviews.
Check-ins Bridge Both Coasts
Location sharing was also one of the most popular social activities, as more people enthusiastically consent to showing where they were along with what they were doing. That's boosting the opportunity for check-in apps, like Foursquare, but security concerns are creeping up as well. New Yorkers wear the hustle and bustle mantle proudly, while Southern Californians corner the market on sunshine and happiness. But the most popular check-ins highlight a bridging of the coasts. When it comes to locations, neither has an edge. New York's Times Square took the top check-in spot, and Yankee Stadium ranked fourth. But three California locations -- Disneyland, San Francisco's AT&T ballpark and Angel Stadium -- nabbed top honors, too.
In fact, America's national pastime connects the dots between popular check-ins: baseball parks, including Texas' Rangers Ballpark and Chicago's Wrigley Field, accounted for seven of the top 10 locations, highlighting how gadgets are becoming part of the tapestry of life along with hotdogs and apple pie.
If you're looking to discover nearby friends, location sharing can also help build a connection. At best, it can foster a sense of community, but privacy issues continue to be tricky. So far, people seem happy to share data, but they're growing protective of how their data is used -- and companies and advertisers are navigating the path ahead. Lawmakers and citizens are debating a balance between data sharing and privacy. And as check-ins grow in popularity, you'll be sending more messages to friends and families during the seventh inning stretch. ♦
Categories: Social Media