Much has happened in 2012, and as social media gets more robust, these big events get bigger when broadcast through the bullhorn of social media. It wasn’t just the year of Oppam Gangnam Style - although it was certainly that - 2012 was also a year of big moments reflected through our social media use.
So here’s a quick and unscientific top 10 social media moments of 2012.
Tweeting While Playing the Super Bowl
Well, not exactly. But while New England Patriots cornerback Devin McCourty was in the process of losing the game to Eli Manning and the New York Giants, McCourty’s Twitter account was active thanks to his twin brother, Jason, a fellow NFL cornerback.
Anyway, the story created a buzz even before it happened, and launched a new chapter of professional athletes using social media to reach their fans and expand their audience. It also didn’t hurt that this played out during a record-breaking Super Bowl.
The News of Whitney Houston's Death
On February 11, Twitter user @BarBeeBritt tweeted, “Is Whitney Houston really dead?” - only seven minutes after the pop diva was declared dead and 55 minutes before the Associated Press confirmed the news with her publicist.
Whitney wasn’t the first diva whose passing was mourned by social media (Michael Jackson’s death broke Twitter back in 2009), but there was something in the mixture of love and sadness in the death of Whitney that made her passing a poignant milestone in social media history. But also this moment gives us an interesting insight on how news of this magnitude spreads before it officially becomes “news.”
The Aurora Shooting
We have grown accustomed to using Twitter as a newsfeed, but it’s something else entirely when Twitter becomes a crowd-sourced reporting tool that helps us understand a breaking news situation without the media filter. When those tweets are collected and Storify’ed, as they were for the Aurora, Co shootings, it can paint a picture in real time.
Oh, the election. It gave us horses, bayonets, binders full of women and the most retweeted tweet of all tweetdom. For the first time, both major candidates embraced social media and its power to connect people; one of those candidates did it better than the other one.
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The Pope Joined Twitter
On 12-12-12, the Pope entered the fray with his own Twitter account, @pontifex. But the Pope never does anything halfway. He has 1.3 million followers but only follows seven other Twitter users, and the kicker is: all seven are the Pope’s accounts in different languages. Take that, Bieber.
Sure, the iPhone 5 is great and all, but its rollout in 2012 was a big reminder to everyone that Steve Jobs was no longer with us. That was a man who could hate Google and still make a good product. Without him, the iPhone 5 succeeded in blocking Google Maps, but failed at replacing it. Also, on iPhone 5 launch day, tweets reached 75,000 per hour.
Social media played a huge role in spreading the word of the widespread devastation caused by the super storm. When power went out, the only connection people had was their smartphones while the battery lasted, and they tweeted about it 3.5 million times using the hashtag #Sandy.
The Hunger Games
The Hunger Games social media marketing machine was brilliant: To release movie promo posters, Lionsgate cut the images up into 100 pieces and spread them across 100 websites. Fans then had to search on social media to piece together the parts and construct the poster. It became an event across the Internet for Millenials.
Even more than in 2008, social media had a huge impact on the 2012 Games in London, as the athletes became their own media outlets, broadcasting "Call Me Maybe" videos and pictures of matching unibrows to the world. A select few became their own viral memes.
The John McAfee Soap Opera
It’s like The Big Lebowski meets The Fugitive with a real-life tech millionaire burnout running from the law in Belize. The story involves dead dogs, a dead neighbor, police raids, blogging while on the run, a fake heart attack and a sudden appearance in Miami. John McAfee will forever be known as the security genius who let himself get caught by a reporter posting a photo of him taken with a smart phone without scrubbing the geolocation data on it first.
What was your favorite social media moment of 2012?