Social media networks continued to grow, expand and sometimes even explode during this past year. New apps were added, new functions created, new networks launched in a frenzy of competitive emulation.
But was it all really necessary? Aren’t people overloaded with social networking itself – let alone coping with change after change, new launches and other new shiny social baubles?
So what has changed globally about social networking? What made 2012 a landmark year?
Here is a social media review of 2012:
Global Shifts and Changes
First let’s take a look at the most notable shifts and changes.
- Went public, opening at $38 per share
- Launched Timeline world-wide
- Bumped Orkut from the #1 spot in Brazil
- Still claims the top spot in global social networking, with 845 million monthly users at last count
- Frightened Facebook more than the latter expected with a Google+ popularity gain
- Saw more people using Google+ Group video chats
- Shut down PicNik photo-editing
- Ferociously tightened up its terms and policies
- Parted ways with LinkedIn and (temporarily) Pheed
- Lost thousands of referrals over the LinkedIn separation
- The “best new start-up in 2011” continued to grow, with a 75% female user base
- Added Pinterest business pages
- Caught on quickly with the rise in infographic and photo popularity
- Was acquired by Facebook for one billion dollars
Visual media such as Pinterest and Instagram experienced a volcanic rise in 2012, causing (or perhaps responding to) a major shift in social networking habits and the collective consciousness only partially explained by the corresponding rise in mobile device use.
In fact, Pinterest “referred more new business than LinkedIn, YouTube and Google+,” according to British firm, The SEO Company.
Meanwhile, the rocketing popularity of photo-sharing resulted in Facebook’s Edgerank algorithm (which weights photos more highly than any other type of media) becoming public knowledge.
Popularity also brought along problems: Email viruses purporting to come from Facebook rose noticeably. And while other social networks grabbed a satisfactory share of the market and improved their platforms dramatically, Facebook was still the star of the show, as The SEO company clearly demonstrated, based on Mashable findings.
Let’s take a closer look at Facebook’s most notable developments during 2012…
Facebook: Messenger for Windows
This was the year people found out that Facebook had officially released Messenger for Windows 7, allowing Windows 7 users to access Messenger without a browser (and thus pushing back competition from Google Gchat).
Using it is like chatting on Facebook, except you can do it from either your System tray or your home screen. (It was actually released late in 2011, but the world didn’t start adopting it en masse until 2012.)
Facebook: Disappearing Cover Photos
Part of the new Timeline organization of personal news-feeds involved a new header area, consisting of tabs, a Cover Photo (background photo) and a Profile photo (head-shot or logo). Facebook was firm in its guidelines – no promotional items or text in the Cover photo. But it wasn’t long before people started ignoring that.
Recently people started reporting blank spaces in Facebook Eggshell Blue where their cover photos used to be. No explanation has yet been given, but a common thread is emerging in the type of photos removed:
- Any photo featuring a recognizable celebrity (even if that’s you standing grinning as said celebrity personally puts his or her arm around you)
- Any promotional content – logos, recognizable brand names, prices, calls to action, etc.)
- Popular background images from download sites
- Any copyright content – For example, movie shots, album covers or original artworks from well-known artists (or artists with a strong web presence).
So no more featuring your head-shot against a backdrop of Hobbits trudging through the snow; or against your favorite band performing onstage; or cozied up to Royalty.
In fact, if you attempt to upload any “copyright” photo (i.e. belonging to someone else), Facebook becomes eerily smart and will most likely slap you with a notice like this one when you try to re-upload it, according to at least one person who blogged about the phenomenon:
Facebook acquired the rights to the facial recognition software it had been using, according to an announcement on Face.com’s blog in June 2012.
You are already familiar with Face.com through Facebook’s photo-tagging process. Face.com already reputedly supplies certain other Facebook apps, including Photo finder (what you use when you locate tagged photos of yourself and un-tag them. So the acquisition seems a logical step.
But what are the implications?
Well, potentially, you could find Facebook “recognizing” every photo you’ve ever appeared in – whether these belong to your account, other peoples’ accounts or institutional accounts/Facebook pages.
Not everybody is comfortable with that option, as can be seen from just two of multiple negative responses to Face.com’s June 18, 2012, blog post:
Yes, Facebook did get rid of “Gifts” a couple of years ago, but like Heather O’Rourke says in the movie “Poltergeist”, “they’re ba-ack…”.
Well, at least for some people. If you have gifts enabled, you’ll see the present-box icon beside friends’ birthdays or with their posts, if you check their walls.
Face it, the ability to collect money directly from your credit cards for gift was most likely just too tempting for Facebook to let die, so Facebook has resurrected gift-giving along with a whole new raft of willing partners, including:
- Baby Gap
- Dean & Deluca
- Random House
(And that, of course, doesn’t include all those “Facebook credits” for games.)
Gifts functionality doesn’t yet seem to be enabled for everyone. If you aren’t yet able to give gifts, the gift icon won’t appear; and if you go to the gifts page, you’ll see this announcement:
If you can see the gifts icon, this Facebook help page further explains the process.
Google+: YouTube Developments and Integration
Facebook isn’t the only social network determined to push ahead. Google has been doing its best to go one step further than its gigantic rival – particularly with visual sharing.
One sore spot among Google+ users concerned with branding and SEO was the way people creating new accounts on YouTube could apply their Google+ user names to their channels. Existing YouTube users could not. So now there’s a fix for that. Those using YouTube for business purposes will appreciate the branding opportunity of syncing Google+ and YouTube accounts; plus the increase in Google searchability.
And to enhance your YouTube videos further, Google allows you to create rich snippets to show up as an enhanced listing in your Google search results.)
Facebook: Instagram Acquisition
Facebook purchased mobile photo-sharing network Instagram – reportedly for one billion dollars.
Hard on the heels of this purchase, Facebook began to make unmistakable noises about eliminating user voting on its “governance policies”.
There has been alarm over the idea of Facebook building user profiles using data shared between its own network and Instagram’s.
Facebook has gone on record as saying that storing Instagram “server logs and administrative records” on its own systems is “standard for the industry”. Prior to this, Mark Zuckerberg himself went on record as saying Facebook was “committed to building and growing Instagram independently”.
Instagram’s acquisition was reportedly in the works prior to Facebook shares going public.
Pinterest: Business Pages
And now the development we’ve all been waiting for – Pinterest business pages. Not only can you now join Pinterest as a business, you can create a Pinterest business page.
If you already have a Pinterest account, you will have to convert it from personal to business. Pinterest then walks you through the page creation process.
- Verify your website
- Embed buttons and widgets
- Select a custom URL for your page
To sum up 2012, it’s been all about three things, with social media:
- Mobile integration and sharing
- Photo and video sharing
- Making money
And it seems as if the social media world has finally woken up to these facts. That being said, only one thing seems consistent about social media networks in 2012.
They are constantly changing and growing along with their users.
 Don’t open any email saying it’s from Facebook if it has an extra “o” in its Address (e.g. “faceboook.com”)
 Further tips on managing rich snippets: http://www.bestrank.com/blog/the-trick-to-getting-your-rich-snippet-author-photos-to-show-in-google-results
One of the most powerful assets Sendible offers to your business is its Reports feature. You can access this instantly via your Dashboard by clicking on the “My Reports” tab.
This feature works powerfully both in helping you monitor and in allowing you to accurately track your social media presence.
You can check:
- Your message volume
- Your scorecard (interactions, audience, influence, clicks)
- The best time to post, as proven on your particular networks
- Number of clicks on posts over the month
- A record of all messages and posts (including date and interactions
- Mentions – your keywords; and whether or not these mentions were positive or negative.
Step 1. Building Your First Report
Before you can read any data, however, you need to build your first report. Click on the “My Reports” tab, if you aren’t already there, and select the “Report Builder” tab in the left-hand vertical sidebar menu.
Select your layout from the templates indicated.
You’ll be taken to the next screen, where you’ll notice two fields waiting for your input:
Only you will be able to see the contents of the “Report Name” field, so go ahead and populate it with whatever you want.
Everyone who accesses the report will be able to see your “Report Title”, so put some thought into a strong title, preferably with a relevant keyword in it.
You can also select the exact period of time you’d like the report to cover (seven to ninety days).
The moment you click “Next”, you’ll be given a selection of modules you can add. Choose the most relevant ones by clicking on the green “Add” buttons.
When you are done, click on the “Close” button.
The next page shows you your report skeleton and presents you with a button you can press to upload your logo (260 X 100 pixels), as well as allowing you to edit your personal data in the far right side of the report header.
Underneath, you’ll find the data….
(This area can be as packed with fields and data or focused on one aspect as you’d like it to be. You can also remove fields at this stage, by selecting the little wheel in the right-hand side of each field header slug.)
You can then choose between four actions:
- Print your report
- Email it
- Publish it to a live link
- Export it in MS Excel or HTML
Step 2. Reading Your Data
Sendible’s “My Reports” functions becomes invaluable in analyzing data and monitoring your social network, email and site interactions. In addition to all the fields you can add when populating your reports, you can also go to the “Quick Reports” tab in the left-hand menu and select even more functions.
You don’t have to “interpret” in any one of these sections: Simply read the results, which are all sorted, tabulated and in many cases compared for you.
When you’re ready to collect new data and create a new report, go back to the “Report Builder” tab in your “My Reports” left-hand, vertical menu.
You will see the last report you created – but on the extreme right-hand side in the Header section of your report, you’ll also notice the bright green “New Report” button.
Press it, and you’ll be able to “Add Modules” again.
Last time you created a report, we focused only on the vertical Modules within “General Reports”.
This time, check out the horizontal tabs in your “Add Modules” section.
- “Channels” lets you set up and track activity across all your social media accounts: Your Facebook Page, Twitter accounts, Facebook accounts and more.
- “Social Media Monitoring” lets you monitor all your “mentions” – positive, negative, over time, by source and more.
One tip, however – make sure the keywords you select is highly specific to your business. If you use a general keyword such as “business solutions”, you will get a flood of “junk” results.
Do be sure to scroll down in the “Social Media Monitoring” section. You won’t want to miss the chance to add a “Sentiment” pie chart – one of your quickest barometers of buzz-worthiness – and setting up a “Sentiment Comparison” between your social networking accounts.
This demographic alone is unique in that it fairly accurately measures intangibles such as liking, long thought to be non-empirical and non-measurable.
“Sentiment Comparison” is a good category to add if you have multiple social media accounts. And, finally, “Top Influencers” can show you who has been busy either competing or promoting your keyword the most (if you chosen keywords highly focused to your business USP).
- “Links” won’t be hugely valuable if your business is fairly new: However, if you’ve built up solid backlinks, it’s worth your while throwing into your mix for this second test report.
(Always select any modules with pie charts. They impress clients, are great for giving you an accurate visual feel for data portions – and you can always take them out before printing or sharing your report, if the data doesn’t feel particularly impressive or relevant.)
- “Campaigns” is another tab that doesn’t look too impressive when you first click on it. (In fact, it looks rather lonely.) But press the “Setup” button for its one solitary field, “All Messages”, and it opens up a treasure trove of tracking options.
In addition to the post data options displayed at first glance, you can also analyze and track:
- Number of emails opened during the report’s specified time period
- Number of people reached by your emails
- Retweets during that period
- Your top posts that have been shared over that period
- The number of people who unsubscribed from receiving your messages
- How many people viewed your blog(s)
- Google Analytics is your final horizontal-tab field to add. You can instantly set up full analytics measurements – and you’ll never have to log into Google again to see your stats.
In addition to the fields you see here, you can also add (if you scroll down):
- Visitor Countries
- Visitor Cities
- Pages Viewed
- Search Keywords
Don’t neglect location-based targeting and measurement in your campaigns. Even if you do one hundred percent of your business online, you may uncover a hidden gemstone of a local market who will buy from you simply because you’re someone they either know (at least by sight, if you’re putting in quality time investing in your community) or just someone from their home town.
Step 3. Editing Your Report
You can also “Edit” your report within the “Add Modules” section, which allows you the ability to change either the layout or the details within the report, making for a tighter, more focused report.
Get into the habit of editing your details. Not only will it look and read better, it will give you a stronger, clearer picture of where your business online visibility and interaction level is really “at”, and what sort of actions you will need to take in which areas, to improve your statistics.
Step 4. Sendible Best Practices – Four Secret Stops to Make
Finally, remember to check out the horizontal tabs under “Add Service” in “Add/Edit Services”. The more relevant streams you add, the more complete your tracking and monitoring results and reports will be.
“If you use it, add it” is a good rule to start out with.
And if you decide a stream is just not worth including, or you suspect it skews your results, you can always remove it later.
Two more tips for you:
- Get in the habit of keeping up with Sendible Insights – and don’t let the name mislead you. It is in no way a copy of Facebook Insights: Instead, it’s more of a blog that provides both basic and heavy-duty social marketing tips and news.
(Just select any post title of particular interest.)
- Visit Sendible Resources before you start hunting for answers elsewhere. This comparatively hidden area of their website contains not only the most clear and well-organized tutorial sections, but it also presents you with actual case studies you can follow, if you’re more of a “hands on” must-see-it-for-myself sort.
- Follow Sendible on social networks – especially on Pinterest. Not only is Pinterest one of the fastest-growing social networks, you’ll pick up handy infographics and tips
- Visit the Getsatisfaction “secret” forum. Well, actually, it’s not so secret: In spite of the fact it is now no longer active and archived (as well as “unofficial”, with a big site disclaimer denying any Sendible affiliation), Sendible’s support team actually includes it as a resource under their signature in automated replies.
While much of it is out of date (or about to become so, with Sendible’s recent upgrades and changes), it is still a place where you can find the odd diamond when hunting for glitch solutions (and waiting for Sendible support).
Jumping in the Pool
There is much more to Sendible than we’ve touched on, but it’s something you can’t learn overnight. You need to try it, tweak it, find what works best for your unique business – but these tips should help you start out with a firm foundation.
Oh. And don’t forget to measure and track how much time Sendible saves you!