5 social media trends to keep on watching

In terms of social media, 2011 has been a big year for the emergence of new online trends. A few examples of trends that have blossomed recently have been ‘planking’, ‘owling’, ‘horsemaning and the latest meme by Schnick (client) ‘razorbombing’.  Google+ was born this year, Facebook introduced new features such as Smart-lists and the Subscribe button, not to mention the roll out of new FB insights and the dreaded Timeline.  They’ve got rid of the ‘discussions’ tab and the Poke. Twitter is even launching their own analytics tool. What others trends have we seen to take off this year and potentially continue to grow into 2012?

1. Brands on Tumblr

Tumblr was primarily used for individuals to showcase their artistic photography and fashion blogging back when it was founded in 2007. According to August data by ComScore, Tumblr’s daily visitors increasing by 218% since this time last year. What does this mean for brands? Tumblr’s main selling point is its visual offering, brands can now use this platform for something that Facebook and Twitter can’t offer; demonstrating the visual quality and identity of a brand. This platform also includes ease of uploading high resolution images, videos, links and audio As Facebook and Twitter have a high visual capacity and rely on worded content, Tumblr is great for really showing the personality behind a brand. The advantages of Tumblr are the freedom to customize the look and feel of the site much like a dot com, but with the extra ability for users to share and re-blog the content on their social media channels. As the old saying goes, content is king, which means that brands can create stunning visuals which inspire users and encourage sharing. Here you can find the top 60 brands utilizing Tumblr as another successful social space.

2. More content aggregators

Top websites such as Yahoo, DailyBeast and Google news are all aggregating websites. We are now seeing that smaller, more niche markets are becoming popular through aggregating specific content for internet users who do not want to trawl through pages of search. An example of a popularly used small aggregator is the Irish deals site Dealpages.ie which received over 100,000 hits in its first month. It is clear that users find it much easier to see lots of specific information on one simple site. These websites are being used across the board, for social as well as informational, as we can see from social networking site LinkedIn (client) who launched their own beta version of a social news aggregator based on user’s connections, professions and hobbies this year. Due to the sheer volume of news, information and links shared on a daily basis, it sometimes seems near impossible to filter out relevant and irrelevant data from an active news feed. Popular aggregators for social media news are Alltop, PopUrls, as well for top stories such as MediaGazer, Memeorandum or creating your own RSS feed using Netvibes or Google Reader. In addition, we will be sure to see more aggregator apps for smartphone use such as Pulse and Flipboard. These platforms are easier for users to access the information they need quickly and efficiently.

On the topic of mobile, we can also expect to see a lot more from mobile platform publishers allowing brands and bloggers to publish creative mobile content. With the prediction that there is set to be 1.7 billion mobile web users by 2013, we can only assume2012 is going to be mobile mad. With this rapid increase in smart-phone and tablet use, publishingplatforms and content management systems are going to have to up their game in mobile publishing. Platforms such as MobilePress (a WordPress plug-in) and OnSwipe have already got this ball rolling, offering customized mobile themes for publishing.  Apps like Instagram already excel at enabling content to be created and shared via a smart-phone. Many bloggers are using these aforementioned site hosts over others so then can blog on the move and access websites via a mobile device which need to be just as, if not more, appealing to retain their audience and the match the user experience of a computer. 2012 will be the year that tablets go from being primarily used for consumption to be primarily used for content creation.

3. Social networks and TV:

According to recent research by Thinkbox, 60% of people claim to watch TV and go online concurrently two or three times a week, while 37% claim to do so every day. It is clear that we really are ‘dual-screening’ at home, at work and sometimes even on the move. TV show Big Brother now has over 80,000 fans on their Facebook page. This Facebook page live streams conversation about what is happening on TV which receives high engagement from fans who enjoy the show but who are on Facebook at the same time. These pages can update viewers about when the programme is next on, the results if they’d missed it, as well as extra exclusive content for fans.

Much like the red button on Sky channels that allowed viewers to find out more after a programme had finished, Twitter is now used as this substitute, providing a place for people to go once a TV show is off air. Last month the first ever TV live stream happened through Facebook, bringing a live football match to fans via a brand Facebook page. We can expect to see a lot more of this as we can see the decrease in TV viewing and more video sharing online. One of the major ones to look out for 2012 will be how the will be the Olympics will succeed in combining TV streaming and social conversation online. For more information on the power of Social TV, visit Edelman Digital’s Friday Five here.

4. Virtual wallets

Earlier this year we got a taste of what the Google Wallet project was going to look like. Google is confident that this tap-and-pay mechanic is going to revolutionize the shopping experience by

making it easier and more exclusive for customers. Google are currently providing updates on the project as they are working to combine Google offers with the Google wallet.  Alex Watson quoted earlier this year “in 15 years, mobile phones have gone from being luxury items to being so functional that they’re utterly integral to a normal day.” It appears that now our mobile phones help us do so many normal daily tasks such as banking and booking train tickets, we will soon be able to pay with them too.  It emerged on September 20th that Google Wallet has started the roll out for the first version of the app to all Sprint Nexus S 4G mobile phones.

5. Increased personalization of search:

Unsurprisingly, a study by Digital Visitor, recently displayed findings that 59% of companies/brands with a social media profile(s) were displayed on the first page of search. We’ll be seeing more of a social push reaping the benefits of social SEO. Although it hasn’t been that long since we have been introduced to Google+1 it is becoming increasingly normal to us to see our friend’s recommendations on our search pages, spanning from what holiday to book, to what to watch on TV that night.Earlier this year, Bing (client) introduced Facebook generated search, and more recently, Adaptive Search, which is involves using the “hidden context” of past searches’ to better recognize what the user is looking for. Search is ever evolving from what it once was, and with the evolution, expansion and addition of social networking sites, we can see that assume that more personalization is going to hit our search engines more and more, so that we are seeing all elements of our online social life in our search options.

This is very interesting, as based on Google and Facebook’s intelligent ‘guessing’ of what your search might be and users may be continuing to be essentially stuck in a personalised ‘bubble’. Facebook’s newest personalised feature rolled out this month is ‘Smart lists’ which makes a predetermined list of the people you interact it with the most. Facebook has also been subject to criticism based on hiding people in your newsfeed unless you opt-out by clicking ‘Edit options’ and ‘Show posts from: All your friends and pages’ instead of ‘Friends and Pages you interact with the most’.

Interestingly, Eli Pariser recently gave a fascinating insight into the world of personalised, algorithmic search and what it might mean for the future in a TedTalk. He calls out the increasingly personal nature of search, naming it a ‘Filter Bubble and makes observations that a search page on Google (for a particular word) will now look very different to the person’s next to you, who has searched for the same thing.

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