Social Media Era Set to Peak in 2012






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Social media is going to rule the Web until at least 2012 – according to a post by Justin Kistner, a Social Evangelist at web analytics company Webtrends. Kistner also claims that Facebook has become the king of social media. In a panel at a Portland event today called Lunch 2.0, Kistner said that the current era of the Web “is Facebook’s game to lose.”




Data from Google Trends suggests that the term ‘web 2.0’ became popular in 2005 and peaked in mid-2007 (as measured by how many times the term was entered as a search term in Google). Towards the end of 2008 ‘social media’ started to get popular and then rose steeply in 2009.
If the above chart is to be believed, social media overtook web 2.0 in popularity at the end of 2009. I’m inclined to trust this data, as it matches other data sources we have reported on in ReadWriteWeb over the past couple of years – for example a Nielsen Online report from March 2009 stating that people spent more time in 2008 using social media than on personal email.
The ‘news references’ chart (the secondary chart below the main one) is also interesting. It shows that over 2009 news media organizations used the term ‘social media’ far more than ‘web 2.0.’ Partly that’s because ‘web 2.0’ has always been an awkward term for anyone outside the tech world to understand (“You mean there were two Webs?”). But it undeniably also shows that the term ‘social media’ began to be bandied about in news media a lot in 2009. And not coincidentally, that’s when Facebook and Twitter became very popular in the mainstream.
Nowadays, it’s hard to walk anywhere in a metropolitan center without seeing the logos of both Facebook and Twitter. Last week I was in New York and snapped a photo of a local eatery promoting its Twitter account at the counter.
OK, this was New York. But I am seeing both Facebook and Twitter being increasingly used by a wide variety of businesses – online, on TV and in the real world.
The rise of social media is impacting many industries, including news media itself. Kistner points to a Hitwise study which showed that Facebook is sending more traffic to news sites than Google. This isn’t necessarily true for all news sites (Google is still ReadWriteWeb’s biggest traffic source, for instance), but Facebook and Twitter have become significant drivers of traffic for most news organizations.
I’m inclined to agree with Kistner that there is at least another year or two of growth in social media adoption, so 2012 sounds like a good bet for social media to peak.
What do you think, will 2012 be the peak for social media? Or will the Social Media Era last for even longer than the Web 2.0 one?

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