Year-end recap of some of Facebook's biggest moments in 2012.
It's “the most wonderful time of the year”, which also means there isn't much time left until the end of the year. Where did 2012 go? They say time goes by faster the older you get, so instead of contemplating what that means for me, let's reflect on some of the biggest Facebook moments that affected us as social media marketers this year.
The $1 Billion Sale of Instagram
Facebook unveiled the “the next generation of the platform which enables people to tell their stories through the apps they use” by releasing the Open Graph in January. Spotify and Washington Post Social Reader had seen a lot of usage prior to user’s profiles being converted to Timeline. After Timeline was integrated on the platform, Facebook kept their promise by releasing the Open Graph with over 60 apps to kick things off. The new Apps gave users the opportunity to express their personalities through apps they are connected with on Facebook. Whether it’s cooking, movies, fashion or travel, there's an app. In fact, if there isn’t an app for an activity you enjoy, you have the option to create one and integrate it with the Open Graph for use on Facebook. The Open Graph apps integration have kept marketers and developers busy as businesses adapted their social media plans accordingly. Pinterest is a great example. The virtual pinboard site is no longer just adored by the design and DIY crowds, but has become the darling of the social media world and will only continue to grow with this new Facebook integration.
Pining for Pinterest
Pinterest is a self-described online pinboard to “Organize and share things you love.”. It was THE emerging platform of 2012, and since it was integrated in the Open Graph, we're happy to give them a nod in Facebook's big moments. If Facebook Timeline is sharing the story of your life, Pinterest is the visual representation of your interests and what you aspire to do (or own in a lot of cases). It’s powerful for users because of three key points: it’s visual, it’s about the user (alas yet another vehicle to tap into the ego-centric online personas we create!) and it’s easy to use. For brands, there are also clear benefits, among the top being that it’s a traffic driving tool. Each item that is “pinned” from a brand’s website links back to that website. So if a pinned item gets circulated throughout Pinterest through the platform’s ability to have item’s “repinned” onto multiple boards, not only is an item from a brand’s website getting more awareness but it could also be getting more traffic. Now that the Pinterest is open to the public, it has not lost momentum. As consumers’ engagement with Pinterest has grown, brands have swarmed to the site. There is no ROI, or measurement system for Pinterest yet, but any social media marketer is going to take note of the potential to reach customers. We look forward to watching the platform mature in 2013.
Pictures That Pop!
There was definitely an image-focused trend in 2012, as Facebook released their new photo viewer in the first part of the year. Images posted on Facebook now expand to be viewed at approximately 960 x 720 pixels, with a screen that pops out, giving the best possible view (taking up a large portion of an average sized laptop screen). The new photo viewer also features a right sidebar devoted to comments. In fact, in accordance with Facebook’s goal of connecting people, it's actually formatted more closely along the lines of a discussion board, to encourage conversation. Lastly, the upgraded viewer is a choice place to plant organic ads. That, and Facebook's IPO, ensures advertising will continue to play an important role.
After months of speculation and publicity, Facebook finally went public in May, at $38 per share. It was an historic day for the company, as Mark Zuckerberg became the first CEO in history to ring the bell in a hoodie. Joking aside, the IPO raised a lot of hoopla that has yet to see fruition, as stocks have not performed nearly as well as expected after the the excitement of having the third-largest IPO to date. Marketers have been paying closer attention to Facebook's services to reach their customers. Small businesses have become slightly frustrated, and even big business men have been up in arms (i.e., Mark Cuban's “tweet heard across the internet”). “This is a massive awareness event to appeal to the C-suite,” says Reggie Bradford, CEO of the Facebook social marketing services firm Vitrue. Facebook, he says, will usher in a new age of social business not just in marketing, but customer service, sales, human resources and every other corporate function.” We couldn't agree more. Despite the shaky start, we have faith that Facebook will pull ahead in the next year, as they keep the users experience as their main focus.
Sponsored Stories in the News Feed
Sponsored Stories started showing up in the ticker in fall 2011, as an experiment to see how users would react to paid content being blended with organic content. There was no major backlash, so Facebook proceeded with integrating Sponsored Stories into the main news feed in January. There are several different types of Sponsored Stories. This has been magnificent news for marketers. The number of eyes that glance through the news feed each day is huge, meaning an ad featured in the news feed has excellent potential for reach. Add the fact that these ads are untraditional in the sense that they are correlated with what users already like, and it sounds like Facebook has a slam dunk in terms of a revenue source and engagement for advertisers. Not to mention, as a user, it makes the ad experience much more personalized and interesting, as a main reason people spend so much time in the new feed is exactly that, to see what their friends are up to. With Sponsored Stories, brands can pay to highlight these interactions, turning them into ads in one of the most heavily trafficked places on the web.
Facebook Hit 1 Billion Users
On October 4, Facebook reached an ENORMOUS milestone – 1 BILLION monthly active users! Mark Zuckerburg’s thoughts were reflected in his status, “This morning, there are more than one billion people using Facebook actively each month. If you’re reading this: thank you for giving me and my little team the honor of serving you. Helping a billion people connect is amazing, humbling and by far the thing I am most proud of in my life. I am committed to working every day to make Facebook better for you, and hopefully together one day we will be able to connect the rest of the world too.” Facebook celebrated the milestone by releasing their first commercial soon after. Watch it here.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of our Top Facebook Moments of 2012!