5 Social Media Enlightenments of 2013
According to the great science fiction writers from the days of yore, by the year 2013 we were supposed to have flying cars and hoverboards. Well, that didn’t happen, but in many ways we’ve one-upped it by having a global network of people sharing their daily life stories. In a sentence: “F*** flying cars, give me Facebook!”
With “selfie” entering the world’s consciousness, and people keeping up-to-date with Facebook notifications on their wristwatches, it’s been a year of Social (something that could apply to any of the past four years really).
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the year’s five most significant developments in Social Media.
On March 26, when the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments over whether gay couples have the right to marry, a social media campaign sought to make a difference. Millions upon millions of Facebook users changed their profile pictures to the Human Rights Campaign’s symbol for equality – a red equals sign – in the largest display of solidarity ever witnessed.
According to Facebook data, 2.7 more people changed their profile pictures that day than the previous Tuesday. Even more surprising is the fact that all of this happened in one day. The Human Rights Campaign, in a post on their Facebook timeline, asked people to change their profile pictures. By that afternoon, the campaign had gone viral and a sea of red equals signs dominated almost everyone’s Facebook feed. So, not only was this the largest display of solidarity, but also the fastest viral campaign ever.
This display showed the power of Facebook as a tool for change. Many may disregard this as slacktivism, a term coined to describe the aloof protester, seeing how difficult it is to equate changing one’s profile picture to the struggles of gay couples. But the people who changed their pictures were those who would have otherwise done nothing. It made politically inactive people active, and if this trend continues, social is providing the ordinary person with a larger voice than he or she ever had before.
2. Breaking News
I remember coming back from lunch April 15 (I recall the date because I mailed my taxes during my lunch break) and going through my normal routine. I opened my laptop and logged into Facebook. The first few posts were friends of mine who said they were hoping and praying for the people living in Boston. As I scrolled down further, I noticed links to what was happening. Despite being without a TV, I was being handed “Breaking News” via social.
The Boston Marathon bombings were a significant event that made people, not only want to reach out to those affected by the tragedy, but also to inform others of what was going on. This is now a steady trend on social. People aren’t just sharing funny pictures of themselves, their dogs, or their vacations (though they are still doing a lot of this), but sharing links to pages and articles that inform others.
It doesn’t take much scrolling before I come across a CNN, Huffington Post or Buzz Feed article in my Twitter or Facebook feed. And furthermore, Facebook has changed its strategy to become friendlier to this type of content. Four months ago, Facebook changed its links layouts, putting it on par visually with image posts. Social is fast becoming one of the great tools for education and the creation of an informed society. If this trend continues, expect the world’s collective IQ to go up a point or two.
Facebook Graph Search, Vine & Instagram videos, and Twitter Ads all made their debuts in 2012, proving that the two most popular Social networks refuse to rest on their laurels and become complacent in the ever-changing world of Social Media.
Graph Search and Bing integration on Facebook opened the door for Facebook to compete with Google to become your one-stop site for everything you will ever need on the internet ever. It’s also changed the way Social media marketers target a company’s fanbase, becoming more aware of who a page’s audience is and what they like. Twitter did the next logical step and are looking to cash in on their over-500 million users with the creation of Twitter ads and sponsored tweets.
Elsewhere, twitter announced the video app Vine in January (a company they acquired in October 2012), and, not wanting to be outdone, Instagram soon followed with its own video integration four months later.
In a world full of predators, the major players in Social media have been able to evolve in order to survive.
4. It’s a Star-Studded Spectacle … and nothing’s new
Justin Beiber was the first person to get over 1 million likes on an Instagram photo. Since this is the only way to count likes, the photo of Beiber with Will Smith is now the most liked photo ever. Yes, even more than the Raising of the Flag at Iwo Jima, and the VJ Day Kiss.
What does this mean? Celebrities are important on Social networks because they’re famous in the real world. That is all.
5. Fooled you once … twice … and so on
It’s been 75 years since Orson Welles’ famous radio broadcast of “War of the Worlds,” and yet the gullibility of the world has yet to change. Post anything and we’ll believe it. This is why Social media is a natural platform to trick people. And it’s not just your ordinary jokers and class clowns that are following through with these hijinks, but professional funnymen.
Jimmy Kimmel fooled everyone with a YouTube video of a young lady “twerking” and accidentally setting herself on fire. The video went viral, garnered millions of views, and even made it to the nightly news. Kimmel later admitted the video to being a hoax.
Comedians Kyle Kinane and Elan Gale each got into strange, live confrontations with a racist airline passenger and Pace Picante Sauce respectively. And again, national media that reported these incidents, like the rest of us, had to admit to being duped.
What does this mean for the future of social? Well, I guess people could be more tempted to make up stories and lie on social, creating narratives out of thin air in the hopes that it will go viral. Afterall, the sleight of hand is very affective when people can’t see your hand in the first place.
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