Facebook floated, Pinterest took flight, Tumblr bolted and Instagram soared, while social TV, social search, social commerce and social media customer service dominated industry buzz.
2012 saw the use of social networks for marketing reasons mature, despite falls from grace from the likes of Qantas and McDonald’s, and social giants introduce a range of ad options in a scramble to monetise their success.
Facebook, which went public in May, introduced a range of promoted post and ad unit variations through the year. It cracked 1 billion users globally and stood at 11.8 million Australian users in December, a 10% increase across the year.
In response to growing pressure to boost lacklustre profits, it looks set to introduce auto-play video ads to its news feed and a ‘want’ button on photos featuring brands or products this year.
Twitter, which boasts over two million Australian users according to socialmedianews.com.au, also tinkered with ad options introducing promoted tweets and users for brands. The microblog is currently in the process of rolling out promoted tweet targeting options that will enable targeting by location and interests.
Scrapbooking social network Pinterest experienced the biggest jump in visitor numbers, up by 306% to reach 650,000 unique Australian visitors (UAVs) in December. It looks to be paving the way for brand pages, with features for marketers launched in November.
Instagram, acquired by Facebook in April for $1 billion, grew phenomenally in 2012 and is estimated to have reached 1.2 million users by December. Use of the platform by brands continues to grow strongly also, with more than half of the world’s largest brands maintaining a presence on the photo-sharing platform.
See: Marketing‘s social media and brands in Australia infographic.
Social network-blog hybrid Tumblr also had a big year, increasing its unique audience in Australia by 220% to command an audience of 3.2 million unique visitors in December.
Social network growth – January to December 2012
Note: where user numbers are not available, unique visitor figures have been used.
While MySpace continued to decline, down 29% in visitors between January and December, the ‘new MySpace’ launched in December with a redesign featuring a horizontal Pinterest-style interface.
Video sharing site YouTube held steady at around 11 million views per month across the year, while blog networks Blogspot and WordPress commanded audiences of 3.5 million and 2.5 million unique visitors respectively in December.
Google+, which is used by around 377,500 Australians, still has potential according to many industry commentators, despite its comparatively slow growth. Read: The marketing director’s guide to Google+.
What will 2013 hold?
With social TV gaining a head of steam in the last few months of the year, it is sure to be a trend to watch in 2013 as TV networks look to socialise programming and IPTV becomes more prevalent.
A number of big brands, including NAB which recently invested in a social media customer service ‘command centre’, have set up dedicated teams to respond to enquiries and complaints posted on social networks. More are likely to do so in 2013 as organisations adopt an increasingly ‘human’ style of interacting online.
Social search is billed as another area set to grow – Yelp, Foursquare and local start-up Posse are taking on Google in this space.
And social commerce (see Marketing’s top10 uses of social commerce) will continue to be a focus as retailers look for smarter ways to drive traffic to their sites.
Add your own predictions to the list, by letting us know what you think the major trends will be in social media for 2013 in the comments below.
Data sourced from socialmedianews.com.au, Quantcast, Comscore, Google Ad Planner tool, Google Trends, Google Insights, Facebook self-serve advertising tool/ Checkfacebook.com. Additional analysis by Marketing.