This Year in Social: 2011

By Liam Foy

Our Favourite Changes


Possibly the best thing that happened this year was Facebook Timeline. We remember the first day after f8 having this new toy to play with. The overhaul of the layout of personal profiles allows you to do things that weren’t possible before. The first thing that was noticeable was this big picture at the top of the page, a cover picture, which was totally upto the individual what they’d like to have it as.  Once you scrolled past the cover it just got better and better and better. You could see all your posts, photos and life events as they happened in time. You could choose to ‘star’ certain parts of your Timeline which doubled their size to make them more predominant. Also, if important parts of your story aren’t included on your Timeline, you can simply go back to when they happened and add them.

Frictionless sharing


Frictionless sharing was a masterful move by Facebook and it will come to be the norm for future generations of Internet users. Yes your sharing data can be used by corporations and governments, but it can also be used by you and third party apps – which will likely be very useful to you. For example, say you opt into frictionless sharing on Spotify or Rdio and over the next 2-3 years you amass over 10,000 songs in your Facebook music dashboard. You – or a third party app – could identify patterns in that data to find new music artists to listen to. Also, the fact is that automated sharing is a lot easier and less hassle for users than manual sharing. We fully expect Facebook’s frictionless sharing to soon be copied by other apps, such as Foursquare (probably once NFC becomes the norm in smartphones). Another point worth noting is that you can modify the privacy settings for each app. So for example, maybe you only want your close friends to see what music you listen to. Go to the Facebook Applications page and change the privacy settings accordingly (see image below).

Spotify’s Facebook integration

The deep integration with Facebook that Spotify, which was announced at f8, is brilliant! Every song you listen to is displayed in the Ticker and stored on your own Timeline. Of course, Facebook will also show you what other friends are listening to, so long as those people have Spotify connected to Facebook. This is where things start to get a little more interesting. Say my friend is listening to an album, and that fact is posted on their Facebook wall. Then our mutual friend clicks on one of those tracks and starts listening too. What I’ll see in my news feed is a notification that both of them are listening to the same album right now. Mix this with Facebook’s music dashboard, where all of the music-related activity in your social network is aggregated and you’ll status updates from your friends and  posts pertaining to who is listening to what music.


Adidas Originals Give the Gift

Give the gift is a Facebook app that let’s you submit a request and what friend you’d like to send it to. Then choose between Snoop Dogg and other artists to record a message. When it got to Christmas Day it auto posted to your friends wall wishing them a “Merry Christmas”.


Kitchen appliance manufacturer Belling crowd sourced a (very small) recipe book on Twitter. More than 200 recipes were submitted and 50 were selected to be in the book. The campaign didn’t make a huge noise, but it demonstrates how brands that you wouldn’t necessarily associate with social media are thinking of innovative and interesting ways to promote themselves.


Arab Uprising – Though it officially started at the end of last year, the Arab Spring spread like wildfire thanks to social media sites.

Japan Disaster – Aid organisations leverage social media for donations and resources. Google sets up People Finder app, which received 7,000 entries in its first week.

takethislollipop – highlighted the chillingly dark side of the Facebook stalker generation with ingenious use of Facebook’s open graph to make an interactive video where a terrifying man hunts you using your Facebook info.


Aflac’d – Gilbert Gottfried loses his job as the Aflac dick-voice after a series of insensitive tweets about the tsunami in Japan.

Ashton Kutcher – The actor’s tweeted support for Penn State coach Joe Paterno was perhaps his most serious misstep in social media. He has since left Twitter in the hands of his PR people.

Bob Parsons – The GoDaddy CEO went to Africa, shot an elephant and posted a video of the hunt and subsequent graphic butchering of the animal. PETA and others were outraged and suggested people quit GoDaddy in response.

Kenneth Cole – The American retailer tastelessly tweeted using the #cairo hashtag to promote their spring/summer collection as the Egypt uprising was taking place. After their Social Media accounts were flooded with complaints they issued an immediate apology via Twitter and Facebook.

We couldn’t talk about social media and 2011 without mentioning one man….Charlie “#winning” Sheen. Whether it was a social media success or a social media fail there was so much buzz created around his Twitter account. We raised an eyebrow when Sheen turned to Twitter to recruit an intern to manage his social media strategy. Apparently he received over 80,000 replies and 100,000 clicks on his site. His public meltdown created so much hype that he became the fastest person to reach 1 million followers on Twitter.


  • There are now over 800 million active users on Facebook (200 million increase from 2010)
  • Approx. 40% of social media users access their accounts through mobile devices
  • 23% of online time is spent on social networks
  • Twitter 100 million active users
  • visitor growth up 60% this year
  • Google+ has 62 million users
  • Over 120 millions users of LinkedIn
  • 2 million companies have LinkedIn Company Pages
  • Foursquare received 4 million check-ins per day

This post was written by Liam Foy

As Head of Client Services, Liam ensures that all of his clients’ strategies are on track, delivering ROI and coming up with new ideas to drive them forward. Beer makes him tick, reading, learning and drinking it.