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2010’s 5 most engaging social-media stories

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Brands & Campaigns

This post is written by Geoff Livingston, an author and co-founder of Zoetica. Read more of his writing at his personal website and follow him @Geoffliving.

It’s easy to gripe online about the ways that something could be better. During the holidays, however, it’s always good to consider things that filled us with a sense of gratitude. Here are five things I really appreciated in social media this year:

  1. BPGlobalPR demonstrated citizen action and held a global oil company accountable via Twitter. This was a use, not a tool, and it was an incredible one. Both BP and the U.S. government were spinning the public, and much of the mainstream media was doing a lackluster job investigating their claims. That was until Josh Simpson’s @BPGlobalPR commentary went viral. The result was the best David-versus-Goliath use of social media and citizen journalism we’ve seen yet.
  2. The Facebook Open Graph protocol — aka the “Like” button — changed the game again, and makes the Web more shareable, portable and social. It also forced Twitter and other social-technology developers to become more innovative. Clearly, this was the biggest development in social tools for 2010.
  3. The rise of the QR code is fascinating! To me, this is the ultimate expression of technology and identity, transcending online and physical space. Imagination is the limit! Where we go with it can be incredible, including credit and access. While QR codes can also be dangerous from a privacy and totalitarian power perspective, they are still technology innovation at its best.
  4. The decreased use of Foursquare, Gowalla and other location-based tools and other location-based tools is a good thing in my mind. Why? Because communities matter more! The over-commercialization of location is intrusive and not social. These networks used gaming to get us interested, then went right into hard selling. Social media is about people and communities first, not selling. Users have voted with their feet, and that makes sense, given the medium. As a result, these networks likely will have to get back to the people game and make themselves more social in 2011.
  5. The Red Cross, Ushahidi and other nonprofits using social media to get the word out about the Haiti earthquake and taking donations via text message. The moment-in-time togetherness of the global online community was amazing. But a great deal of the aid never made it to Haitians in need, and subsequent disasters in Chile and Pakistan were met with much less enthusiasm. This is an area where we’ve made great progress, and I can’t wait to see more.

What new wrinkles and developments did you appreciate in 2010?