Ah, 2012. A new year, a new batch of resolutions to break. Despite eating black-eyed peas for dinner on New Year’s Day (it brings luck, or so legend holds), it’s been a relatively rocky start to 2012…my beloved Badgers lost the Rose Bowl, the Bears are out of the playoffs, I’m battling a wicked cold and cough and my pants are fitting tighter than ever thanks to a week of holiday-related festivities in Chicago. Is this a sign of the year ahead? If so, bah, humbug! In other depressing news, consumer intelligence blog Frugal Dad recently released a new infographic, “You are what you Tweet: 2011 in Review.” The graphic illustrates our most heavily shared social media topics of the year. Here are a few of the highlights:
- The most important event of the year came courtesy of Beyonce’s pregnancy reveal at the MTV Movie Awards. That moment received more tweets per second than the raid on Osama bin Laden or the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
- Justin Bieber is the most important person of the year, averaging more than five million retweets. Compare that to President Obama, who only typically averages about 250,000 retweets.
- If Facebook were the news, Charlie Sheen would reign as most important person of the year. His “story” was more viral than Gabrielle Giffords surviving a shooting – he received two million “likes” on Facebook, while the congresswoman garnered 84,000.
- Rebecca Black’s notoriously awful music video “Friday” received 167 million views, which is nearly triple the amount of views Obama’s speech on bin Laden’s death received.
Yikes. So just what does that social media profile say about us? Why do we pay more attention to tween singers and #tigerblood than the Middle East uprising, the U.S. debt crisis and natural disasters? In defense of American social media habits, experts say that lighter, trivial topics provide relief from heavy news – and it’s apparent that social media has become another way to cope. Even though Twitter and Facebook don’t always provide news of the highest possible value, one thing has become increasingly clear: thanks to the continued growth of these types of social media outlets, news – both good and bad – spreads faster and reaches more people than ever. And from a professional standpoint, that’s pretty exciting. It elevates the role of the PR pros and communicators in charge of managing the conversation. This year, I predict social media will continue to define communications strategies and that PR professionals will discover exciting new ways to disseminate messages. In this ever-evolving digital age, people are watching and listening more than ever. The speed at which these messages move just means we will have to be creative and proactive in enhancing – and protecting – our clients’ reputations. I feel better already. Bring it on, 2012!