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2011 - The Year of The Social Media 'Meh' - The Social Penguin Blog

2011 – The Year of The Social Media ‘Meh’

The year 2011 is drawing to a close, a cold, wet and windy close. As I sit by the fire contemplating the past year, I can’t help but think it has been a bit ‘meh’ in a social media sense. Why? Let me break it down for you.

Hype came, and hype went…

At the turn of the year, Quora was all the rage. The next Twitter! The sum of all knowledge! Well really I think everyone was just looking for a bone to chew on during the bleak month of January. Yeah, it does what it does pretty well, but I’m not sure it has really cracked the mainstream. The past year has seen many things getting the tech community whipped up into a real frenzy, Path came along and was a ‘real threat to Facebook’. It re-emerged in the past couple of weeks after a ‘pivot’ (buzz word of the year anyone?) and again has every blog up and down the land writing it up as the next social network monster in a bid to secure hits and links. What social presence or app has really cracked it this year? Instagram has built a strong user base and only on one mobile platform. Really one to watch grow in 2012.

Blogging standards slipped…

The quality of social media and digital marketing blogging took  a real nose-dive in the past year. I have rarely been blown away by anything I have read. I’ve been less inclined to comment on posts, which is a strong barometer in my book. For me, too many blogs are just outlets for the same news, regurgitated and spat out across the web. Facebook makes a tiny change and blogs across the globe report it as is if we just found life on Mars. Original content and the thoughts and opinions that go along with it has dwindled. Come on people, find the voice again and start using blogging as the powerful tool we know it all can be.

Social media and cats. Meh.

Facebook continued to smash it…

It gets bigger and bigger, and no-one can stop it. Google+ landed and every man and his dog started to put it up against Facebook. I’m not even sure the guys at Google want it to be the next Facebook, surely there are other things to aim for in life? Let Facebook be Facebook and hope that G+ (or something else) can offer a viable alternative for those who wish to share and converse without having to sift through a bunch of chumps whinging about their jobs, their wives and how hungry they are. The fact is that Facebook is a behemoth, it is present in our lives at every corner. As the ‘Open Graph‘ continues to develop and the world gets their Timelines (a bit like waiting for hoverboards?), the Facebook dominance will only grow. Nothing out there is going to stop it.

Location didn’t really take off…

Location based marketing. The next frontier of digital marketing. Really? Well it just kind of skittered along like wet fart in 2011. Yes, Foursquare has 15 million users, but you can hardly call that huge in this day and age. The majority of deals that get sent your way via the various apps suck. No real pull for the user equals no real potential for growth. When Facebook started pushing its Places offering (now defunct), the world started checking in everywhere they went, making life seem really, really mundane. Zuckerburg and co have now bought check-in minion Gowalla and appear to want to shut it down in January 2012. Will 2012 see location really push things forward? I’m not so sure, it may take Facebook to re-ignite it.

People still have social media tunnel vision… 


Social media muppets continued to hide behind the ‘you can’t prove ROI’ excuse…

The use of social media can absolutely, well and truly be measured and if anyone tells you differently, you need to look elsewhere for guidance. That said, if you are not setting up your campaigns and strategies correctly, it can be hard to prove. Take the time to learn how to do it and things will work out a whole lot better. Don’t be a phantom.

On a positive note…

Social media has amplified the voice of many long suffering people in the past year and that is a real thing of beauty. Social really is a great facilitator of change.

Baa humbug?

I am being a real miser? Was it an incredible year for the social media world? What got your juices flowing? Do share and do argue.

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About Mike McGrail

Mike McGrail is the owner of The Social Penguin Blog. He is the MD of Velocity Digital. He likes scotch and leather-bound books. Follow Mike's ramblings on Twitter. He also resides on Google Plus here.

  • http://www.timbarlow.net/ Tim Barlow

    Hi Mike

    I think you’ve probably travelled through that curve that I can’t remember the name of or the person who did it but the basic proviso was that with social media people go through a transition from sceptism, to giving it a go, to getting addicted, to evangelising to the point of obsession and annoying all their peers, to calming down and it just becoming part of the way things happen.

    I think 2011 has been a great year for social media. It has made web marketing mainstream and not just something for geeks. It’s made web marketing more complex and interesting – moving it from worrying about technology to where it should be – worry about marketing: putting users first, emphasising psychology, serendipity, influenece. It’s emphasised to many that the rules really have changed.

    Sure there is still a long way to go. Quality is low, but it will improve. People will fail, give up and may be not come back for a bit but all the time skills will increase.

    • http://www.thesocialpenguinblog.com Mike McGrail

      Hi Tim

      Thanks for contributing to the review. Sorry if I have been an annoying peer. My lustre for the social channel hasn’t wained at all, I still regard it as an effective and very powerful tool, my career has massive grounding in it and this blog, which I hope still hits the right notes, continues to grow which would say to me that the demand for social media content and info is stronger than ever. I just don’t feel the the past year has seen an awful lot of progression.
      When you say mainstream, I’m not sure if you mean the general public or the general marketing scene? I’d agree that quality can improve, but I don’t see a huge upsurge coming until people start looking at the wider picture.
      Sent from my iPad

      • http://www.timbarlow.net/ Tim Barlow

        Certainly not implying you were an annoying peer (well at least no more than I was anyway ;)

        By mainstream, yes I mean marketing rather than public though I would argue that every boardroom at least now knows the phrase even if they don’t get it. Have watched the same progression happen with SEO but over a much longer timeline.

        I think there has been progression. May be not in the platforms (although I’d argue that is exciting) but certainly in the business communities willingness to think about it. The thinking about it effectively will come in due course. Peeps are still focusing on the tools, not the strategy.

        • http://www.thesocialpenguinblog.com Mike McGrail

          Ah well that’s ok then! No doubt it is in the air in boardrooms, still much education to do but that will come. Massively agree re the channels and not strategy, the channels are so prominent that people work out how they can use them without really working out what they want to achieve.

  • http://twitter.com/craigmcgill Craig McGill

    I think it’s been the beginning of consolidation, which is a good thing. People are starting to see who knows their stuff and who doesn’t and at the same time, the “ohh shiny” types are being ignored in favour of the “do you need it? What will it do for you or your customers” types.

    Not every year needs to bring revolution and social media, in many parts, is now past that. But 2012 will bring challenges. Many companies still don’t see the benefits and it’s time for that to change and that will take the likes of you, me, Tim and many others.

    • http://www.thesocialpenguinblog.com Mike McGrail

      Hi Craig

      I’d agree on the consolidation point. I think my general consensus is that a number of things is hoped would progress have not, mainly channels and platforms.