How Right Was I About Social Media In 2011?

The launch of Marketing Land dovetails nicely with the end of the year, a time when we’re all encouraged to reflect on the year that has just passed, and what life lessons we can learn from the previous 12 months. For tech bloggers and commentators, it means it’s time to make predictions for the coming year, and to evaluate last year’s set.

So, in keeping with this tradition, I thought it would be good to look back at the predictions I made almost exactly 12 months ago, to see how accurate I was.

1.  Facebook To Hit 1 Billion Users

Well, whilst Facebook now make announcements about how many users they have less frequently than they used to, I think we’d have heard if this was the case. Mark Zuckerberg did say, back in September, that they had broken the 800 million mark.

This suggests that growth rate has slowed down (I don’t put too much weight in the stories claiming major reverses – they’re still adding around 25 million users a month), but I do think that they may have hit a glass ceiling until they can open up markets like China.

To be fair, I did make that caveat in my initial prediction, but still, wrong is wrong. For what it’s worth, at current growth rates, they’d hit 1 billion in May, but I’m not going to hang my hat on it happening.

2.  Foursquare To Remain Niche

When I made the prediction, foursquare had 5 million users. By April 2011, they had doubled that – to 10 million, but that’s still pretty niche. Since then, there have been no further official updates, so it seems unlikely that they will have risen that much, or they would have shouted about it.

Facebook Places definitely gave foursquare a boost (contrary to what many predicted) but it seems as if checking in is still too much of an ask for consumers, when the reward is ‘only’ a badge, or a relatively small discount. I’ll chalk that up as a correct prediction.

3.  Groupon Will Be 2011’s Twitter

Unless I meant that Twitter spent more on advertising than it made in revenue, and burned money like’s bastard step-child, then I think I can admit that I got this wrong.

Groupon has still not worked out how to make its platform attractive to major brands, especially FMCGs, and I don’t see any sign of that happening soon.

4.  Offline To Become Social

I think this is probably an almost accurate prediction – 5 out of 10 if you like. Connected TV sales have still to take off, Google TV looks more toothless by the day, and Yahoo is more concerned with finding a buyer than pushing their TV product.

But, at the same time, GetGlue is attracting users at a rapid rate, Dutch TV stations have come together to create their own version of a check-in app for TV (so they don’t end up having to buy the data back off of some US company).

Starlings is a new start-up set to do fascinating things with social and TV, whilst the redesign of one of the main Irish TV station’s digital player includes a clickable hashtag on every show.

Social TV is here, we’re just waiting for the technology to catch-up. And it seems like it might be Apple who end up doing it.

5.  Google Won’t Release A Social Network

OK, so, at first sight, this looks like an utter fail on my part. And it also suggests you should never trust what people tell you (I was assured that they wouldn’t).

However, I did say that whatever they did would allow people to group their social experiences, and layer over the top of everything from search to YouTube, taking in elements of Buzz and Wave. I’m going to call this as another almost.

At The End Of 2011…

Sadly, my total is just 2 out of 5 (kind of). Hardly a glowing score, but to be honest, I’m guessing that very few people would really be able to make predictions about digital that would stack up a year later. But that’s not going to stop me having another bash, when I make my predictions for 2012 in my next column.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.

Related Topics: Channel: Social Media Marketing | Social Media Marketing | Social Media Marketing Column


About The Author: is the Chief Digital Officer for Mindshare Australia, where he is responsible for the overall digital output of the agency, including ensuring that search, social, mobile and video are integrated into the broader marketing mix. He has worked in online marketing since 2000 at a number of publishers and agencies.

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  • Peter Garian

    Thanks Ciaran. I think it shows we have to be flexible and ready for anything in the digital world. For example, here at the end of this comment, I’m not even sure I know what I’m talking about…


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