The Year In Social Media: The Rise of the Challengers
The Year In Social Media: The Rise of the Challengers

Facebook, Twitter and YouTube continued to rule the social media landscape in 2012, but other networks made inroads as well, giving the incumbents a run for their money. The upstarts include Instagram, Pinterest, SoundCloud, Google+ and the reincarnated MySpace.

Instagram was such a phenomenon that Facebook acquired Instagram for $1 billion in April. That led Twitter to disable a feature that let Instagram users import their Twitter friends into the new Facebook-Instagram ecosystem. The move touched off a tit-for-tat series of retaliations throughout the year and highlighted the increasingly competitive nature of social networks that once played happily side-by-side in their younger days.

Read all our 2012 Year in Music coverage here

In addition, services and apps such as Spotify, Shazam, Kickstarter, Viddy and Rdio have layered their own dedicated social networks, shifting the conversation towards more specialized communities on the Web.


Music in particular is the tip of the spear for emerging social media behavior because it's easily shared and it helps breach wide cultural differences. A study by the Pew Research Center found that the most common topic around social sharing was entertainment, with 67% of respondents saying they've shared their views on music and movies this past year, outpacing the number of people who shared views on politics, sports, religion and community issues.

In particular, lyrics and playlists have become a popular form of social currency. At Spotify, which hit 5 million paying subscribers this year, users created more than 300 million playlists in 2012 that their friends could check out. On Rap Genius, a site about rap lyrics, more than 100,000 people created about one million annotations in 2012, many of which were in the form of dialogues and debates with fellow annotators.

"Music is inherently social largely because it is a form of self-expression," said Brian Solis, principal analyst with Altimeter Group. "Social consumers are interested in having Spotify broadcast what they're listening to because it defines and reinforces self-actualization. That's pretty powerful."

Here are few highlights of the year in social media.


January: Facebook begins to roll users over to the new Timeline layout, completing the process in the fall for all users. The change, along with other changes to its feed algorithm, led to a 5% to 40% decline in the organic reach of brand pages, according to Ogilvy.
Feb 13: The 54th Annual Grammy Awards breaks records with over 13.0 million Social Media Comments recorded during the evening
April 3: Instagram becomes available for Android
April 9: Facebook announces $1 billion acquisition of Instagram.
April 20: Shazam launches and iPad app
May 10: Soundcloud rolls out a complete site redesign in private beta.
May 18: Facebook goes public at $38 a share. The stock touched a low of $17.73 on Sept. 4 before settling in the upper 20s mid-December.
May 31: Amanda Palmer raises $1.2 million from Kickstarter to produce her latest album, "Theater is Evil," becoming the first socially fueled, crowd-funded album to hit the Billboard's Top 200 charts at No. 10 on Sept. 19.
June 28: Google+ turns one year old. Announces 250 million active users.
July 26: Twitter disables "Find Friends" from Twitter feature on newly released Instagram app.
Oct. 3: Silicon Valley venture firm Andreessen Horowitz drops $15 million on RapGenius.
Oct. 4: Facebook crosses 1 billion active users mark.
Dec. 6: Metallica becomes available on Spotify
Dec. 9: Instagram disabled photo integration with Twitter.
Dec. 19: MySpace launches its first major product under Justin Timberlake's Specific Media ownership, a music player with recommendations and Facebook integration.

Active Users:
Facebook: 1 billion
Google+: 235 million
Twitter: 140 million
Instagram: 100 million
Source: The companies.

Unique Visitors:*
Facebook: 149.1 million
LinkedIn: 43 million
Twitter: 40.8 million
Tumblr: 29.4 million
MySpace: 28.8 million
Pinterest: 26.7 million
Instagram: 26.4 million
*October 2012
Source: comScore Inc.

Kickstarter 2012*
• 8,853 music projects launched
• 4,460 music projects successfully funded
• $33.5+ million pledged to music projects
*Through Dec. 12.

Carly Rae Jepson's "Call Me Maybe" tops the list at over 360 million views this year.

1. Carly Rae Jepsen - "Call Me Maybe"

2. One Direction - "What Makes You Beautiful"

3. Pitbull ft. Chris Brown - "International Love"

4. Jennifer Lopez ft. Pitbull - "Dance Again"

5. Justin Bieber - "Boyfriend"

6. Lil Wayne ft. Bruno Mars - "Mirror"

7. One Direction - "One Thing"

8. LMFAO - "Party Rock Anthem"

9. Jennifer Lopez ft. Pitbull - "On The Floor"

10. Pitbull ft. Marc Anthony - "Rain Over Me"

(Source: VEVO, as of December 3, 2012)

Top 5 Songs Played via Apps on Facebook in 201 2
1. We Are Young - feat. Janelle Monáe - Fun
2. Somebody That I Used To Know - Gotye
3. Call Me Maybe - Carly Rae Jepsen
4. What Makes You Beautiful - One Direction
5. Payphone - Maroon 5

2012 for YouTube - across ~90500 artists (as of Oct 1, 2012):*
Channel views: 2,034,046,202
Subscribers: 83,867,058
Thumbs: 140,315.094
Video Favorites: 69,680,098
Video Raters: 206,081,147
Video Views: 30,838,692,571

Projected for Year-End 2012:
Channel views: 2,788,244,260
Subscribers: 11,2950,322
Thumbs: 189,853,660
Video Favorites: 93,405,280
Video Raters: 277,322,804
Video Views: 41,482,718,597

*Source: Next Big Sound

Twitter Festivals/ awards shows:
Festivals: Conversation from January of 2012-current
Bonnaroo - @Bonnaroo #Roo2012 (#Roo2013) = 32K tweets
Outside Lands - @sfoutsidelands #outsidelands = 38K
Austin City Limits - @aclfestival #aclfest = 125k
Coachella - @coachella #Coachella2012 (#Coachella2013) = 2.7mm
Lollapalooza - @lollapalooza #Lolla 1mm
CMJ Music Marathon - @CMJ #CMJ 120k
South by Southwest - @sxsw #SXSW 2.5mm
Electric Zoo - @ElectricZooNY #EZoo 109k
Ultra Music Festival - @ultramusic #ULTRA15 (#Ultra14)
Sasquatch Festival - @Sasquatch #Sasquatch 33K
Pitchfork Festival - @pitchforkfest #pitchforkfest 12k
#takemeback - hashtag used by all when expressing memories or tweeting pictures in the days following the event 531K (This hashtag is used around non-festivals so let's be sure to note that it is not a festival-specific data point.)

Award shows: Conversation from January of 2012-current
CMAs - @CountryMusic #CMAAwards 418K
BBMAs @billboard #BBMA 864K (Used the hashtag and name of awards show)
AMAs @TheAMAs #AMAS 67k
Grammys @TheGRAMMYs #GRAMMYs 8mm
#GRAMMYnoms 4K
VMAs @VMA #VMA 39mm (Used the hashtag and name of awards show)
BET awards @BETawards #HipHopAwards 3mm
ACM awards @ACMawards #ACMs 294k

Social media spreads worldwide, with the U.K., Russia and the U.S. leading the pack in terms of the percentage of the population who use social networking sites.

Most-shared tracks by Spotify users (the most-shared tracks to Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr)
1. Gotye 'Somebody That I Used To Know'
2. Carly Rae Jepsen 'Call Me Maybe'
3. Fun. 'We Are Young - feat. Janelle Monáe'
4. Flo Rida featuring Sia 'Wild Ones'
5. David Guetta 'Titanium - feat. Sia'
6. Flo Rida featuring Sia - 'Whistle'
7. Train - 'Drive By'
8. Maroon 5 - 'Payphone'
9. Rihanna - 'We Found Love'
10. Michel Teló - 'Ai Se Eu Te Pego - Live'