In 2012, the social media landscape got manicured. Many more prominent channels emerged and older ones became more refined as they worked to embrace where and how we engage, manage and otherwise share information. Still, even as the types of social media changed, the strategies used to engage fans, friends and followers stayed mostly the same. Here, we take a look at the social media channels that emerged and evolved throughout the year.


Facebook Goes Public

After Facebook bought Instagram for $US 1 billion dollars, we didn’t think the social media platform would need a standing ovation, but there we were on May 18 watching the Facebook IPO go live with shares starting at $US 38. From there, it was a bumpy road, but Facebook and the Zuck persevered, launching a multitude of apps and functionality that helped improve the way business could manage their pages, promote their content, as well as make it easier for users to share content across devices. While everyone had an opinion on the future of Facebook, it didn't seem to slow them down any -- in October, Facebook welcomed its 1 billionth user into the fray.

Google Plus Gains Momentum

Google Plus was declared dead many times in 2011, but it came back fighting. In June, it marked its first birthday and showed that it was serious about positioning itself as a serious social media network contender. It added more functionality, hit 400 million users and added communities and more opportunities for brands to assert themselves. Through it all, however, we kept asking -- what does it mean? Perhaps we’ll find out in 2013.

Pinterest Gets Popular

Pinterest started off 2012 with some copyright criticism and made some changes that helped show that it took its role as a visual content curator seriously. After that, it seem to hit its stride, securing funding and winning awards. Even CMSWire got in on the Pinterest action. Pinterest opened to the public in August and since then the platform added more functionality for brands, upgraded for mobile and improved its security.

Twitter Trims its Connections

Twitter had an interesting year. Never did its popularity wane, but over time it severed ties and partnerships in an effort to assert itself as an independent social media entity. From a functionality perspective, it provided some enhancement for brands, while releasing upgrades for its mobile apps.

In June, Twitter went commercial, putting its support behind NASCAR. In July, just after it parted ways with LinkedIn, a Twitter outage sent tweeters into panic. In August, Twitter made the Olympics social. Overall, Twitter’s role varied from breaking news, discussion group, and customer service portal.

LinkedIn Increases Company Engagement

LinkedIn continued to dominate professional networking in 2012. Like the other social networks, it also unveiled new updates to its mobile apps. It also showed a strategic focus on improving company engagement for brands and professionals with more branding opportunities for company pages, acquiring SlideShare for $US 119 million, connecting with Office 2013, and providing extensive integration with Hootsuite and YouTube. While it ended a partnership with Twitter, LinkedIn stayed calm and focused and released more updates for users and companies alike.

Putting it All Together

What do all of these changes and updates for these five prominent social media platforms mean? Not only does it mean that you need to continually stay up to date with all these changes and how it affects the way you share content with others and market your company, it also means that having a sound, yet flexible engagement strategy is key to weathering the social media storm.

Though you might have to re-size your cover photos and update your APIs from time to time, your strategy for engaging with others doesn't need to change -- it needs to become more consistent so that no matter the platform, you're focused on listening to your customers, delivering the right content, and staying true to your brand's identity.