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What the most popular social media stories of 2011 say about the state of social

4 min read

Brands & Campaigns

Readers of SmartBrief on Social Media get summaries of the most important social media articles delivered to their inbox for free every weekday. I like to think that the stories we choose to link to in any given issue say a great deal about the state of social media on that day. Looking at the most popular items of the entire year, however, it’s clear that there were certain issues that preoccupied the SBoSM audience throughout 2011.

The top 10 stories we linked to in SmartBrief on Social Media in 2011:

  1. Social marketers get a guide from Facebook
  2. 7 signs that a social media “expert” doesn’t know what they’re talking about
  3. Why Pinterest is a big deal for marketers
  4. Facebook overhauls the “Like” button
  5. The year’s 10 worst social media meltdowns
  6. StumbleUpon overtakes Facebook as top social-traffic source
  7. 9 commandments that no social media marketer can afford to break
  8. Bank of America falls prey to Google+ “brandjacking”
  9. The Facebook gaffes you can’t afford to make
  10. Twitter redesign gives brands a page of their own

Of course, we also run original posts here on SmartBlog on Social Media — and the top 10 most popular original articles of the year say a little something about the state of social media as well.

The top 10 original posts here on SmartBlog on Social Media:

  1. The 6 best free Facebook apps for businesses
  2. How to use LinkedIn to jump-start your job search
  3. How to be funny online — without getting fired
  4. 9 tips for building a Facebook fan base from scratch
  5. 6 tools to measure your personal branding efforts
  6. 10 tips for social media introverts
  7. Are you ready for the second wave of social media?
  8. The power of touch: How we misunderstand social media engagement
  9. 7 questions every social media strategy must be able to answer
  10. Live from Social Media Week: The Suxorz picks the worst social media moves of 2010

What do these lists tell us? Let’s see…

  • Lists are as popular as ever. It’s almost a cliche to mock list articles (or “listicles”) as being cheap cop-outs on the part of the author — or at very least, a sign of over-reliance on a formula that by it’s very nature makes deeper analysis difficult, if not impossible. But the numbers don’t lie. People like easily digestible, well organized content. I wonder if that means that this article (a list of lists) will shoot straight to the top of the charts?
  • Facebook is essential. But alternatives are more than welcome. The No. 1 story on both lists is about getting more out of Facebook. That makes sense, given that Mark Zuckerberg’s baby takes up 1 in every 7 minutes spent online. But when we talk about someone challenging Facebook in some area (Pinterest, StumbleUpon) it gets everyone’s attention.
  • Google+ is a snooze. There’s only one mention of Google+ on that list — and it’s not exactly positive. For the most part, social networking’s new kid got precious little love from SBoSM readers this year. The network has a lot to prove before business audiences start taking it seriously.
  • Failure is a winner. Schadenfreude is alive and well within the SBoSM community. You guys love reading about other people’s missteps. Of course, it’s not just about  laughing at other people’s pain. It’s about learning from their mistakes.
  • Rules matter. Social media is supposed to be old news by now — right? Facebook is about to turn 8. Twitter is already half a decade old. We should have a handle on this by now. But we don’t. Because the truth is that social campaigns are messy, organic things. We continue to search for the tools, the strategies, the insights that will allow us to tame the beast — even if a pat series of guidelines has eluded us so far.

What were the social media stories and ideas that mattered to you in 2011? How did social media change for you during the year?