A Mobile, Eventful, App-Filled Year in Review
Originally published in MediaPost's Social Media Insider
After writing 44 Social Media Insider columns this year, this 320th contribution to MediaPost offers a good time to reflect on what happened in 2010. Several themes emerged, with mobile social media standing out among all the rest. Here’s the year in review.
Mobile social media
In 27 of the previous 44 columns, I mentioned mobile. In 2011, I may well push that higher than the 61% rate from 2010. If you’re planning a social media marketing program and aren’t considering mobile angles, you’re missing a huge part of consumer usage today and an even bigger part of where it’s heading.
This year, some of the posts that focused on this most extensively are “All Mobile is Social” that showed how mobile devices are all about communication, and the role of mobile in Facebook’s push to connect everyone in the world. In February, I noted that “Marketers Sit on Facebook’s Mobile Sidelines.” This has changed slightly with the launch of Places and Deals, but there’s a lot more that can and likely will happen here in 2011.
I was at times obsessed with mobile social media this year, recounting “20 Confessions of a Super Mayor” and waxing on how I can’t quit Foursquare. Yet one of the more important posts I wrote showed how mobile social media is about so much more than Facebook and Foursquare, something everyone – myself included – should constantly remember. Finally, if you’re still not convinced about how big this is, read “Ten Reasons to Love Mobile Social Media.”
The danger zone
I’m hardly an alarmist, but I will look at what marketers, technologists, and consumers are doing wrong so we can learn from others’ mistakes. I had fun with one such piece in the spring with “The Ten Plagues of Social Media.” It was one of two columns I turned into a downloadable presentation on SlideShare, along with the one on Five Reminders about Social Media Marketing.
As for other warnings, a post in May described “The Motivation Bubble,” where marketers are relying too heavily on incentivizing users for social actions, and this is one bubble I’m even more convinced is due to burst. In “Six Steps for an Epic Promoted Tweet Fail,” for whatever reason I inverted a how-to guide for Twitter ads and turned it negative. Maybe I was dealing with some personal crisis, like Sprinkles Cupcakes withdrawal.
It’s an app app app app world
You can’t write about social media without trying out new apps daily. Foodspotting, which I deconstructed in March, continues to gain traction, though I’m still torn on when to use it. Some of my favorite meals are those where I’d never take out my camera. Stickybits is my favorite example of a ‘weird’ technology that I love. Really, can and should barcodes become social networks? There are new marketing opportunities, but it’s a long way from going mainstream. Also up there among my favorite apps that rank high on the weird factor: Barcode Hero.
Facebook apps had a big year too. One post reviewed Bing’s integration with Farmville to rack up fans. Three things happened since. First, Bing grew from about 600,000 fans after the FarmVille buy to 1.2 million today. Second, Google went from just over 500,000 fans to 2.4 million today, even without a marketing stunt. Third, typical posts from Bing racked up 50-100 “likes” before the FarmVille buy, and they still do now that it has 12 times as many fans. True fans apparently don’t grow on farms after all.
At the most geek-heavy conferences, you can get a great sense of what technologies are on the minds and mobile devices of early adopters. The list of top technologies from SXSW didn’t have great predictive value as the year went on. Gowalla and Plancast were both on the hot list, but the former couldn’t keep up with Foursquare and the latter never approached its usage peak from the March event. As for CES, it proved to be especially leading edge, as it will be awhile before the masses adopt TV-based videoconferencing and remote control vehicles navigating via augmented reality, but the technologies mentioned there are good longer term bets.
One of the more ambitious posts of the year was a selection of lessons from the more than 100 events I’ve attended over the past several years. It’s a work in progress, so feel free to add to it.
One of the first columns this year explored eight mobile social check-in apps and concluded, “I won't need to check in at every place at every venue, as I'd rather make the most of the time with the people in front of me rather than earning points for broadcasting my whereabouts to others.” By the end of the year, I managed to spend nine days without a single Facebook, Twitter, or Foursquare update. For me, it’s a good year when I can follow some of my own advice and live up to a public promise.
I can only hope I fulfilled my contract with you, so that these weekly musings are a worthwhile use of your time. Any time and attention you’ve given these posts have been more meaningful than I can possibly express. I wish you a fulfilling and prosperous 2011, with countless highlights you’ll want to tell the world about through social media, or savor quietly with your loved ones.