Social Media

An Insider’s “Social” Recap of 2009

December 30, 2009

Assuming you’re working this week, hopefully you have some time to catch up. If you’ll indulge me, I’ve rounded up what I’d consider the highlights from the past year of my contributions.

For me, 2009 started with a dramatic change in perspective, as I transitioned from the Search Insider to the Social Media Insider after 224 editions of the former. In the first ten weeks of the year, I largely explored how search and social connected. I noted the value of community-powered retail search engines and bathroom search engines and search engines to help with a move, showed why Skittles overhauled its own Web site (a column so tenuously related to search that I almost didn’t submit it), and made a plea for Google to incorporate Twitter’s content. The Twitter column concluded, “At some point… Google will need live search. When Google’s ready, the question will be whether any scalable live search platform needs Google.” Sure enough, Twitter needed Google, and such a partnership was one of few revenue streams for Twitter this year.

That was just in the first 15 columns. The next 32 (not including this one) were part of the Social Media Insider, where I got to join the inimitable Cathy Taylor. Here are some columns and topics that resonated.

Best Practices

This is one of the most tempting areas to cover, but it’s always a risk to sound too professorial or even too obvious. One from May that managed to work was a treatise against the “c-word” (campaign). Especially after an email exchange with a reader, I wanted to write a rebuttal to show when campaigns make sense for social media. I never got to it, so there’s one I can consider for 2010.


As a thought experiment, I proposed a new pricing model: CPSA, or cost per social action. I can’t say it’s an industry standard yet, but the dialogue on MediaPost and elsewhere was reward enough.


I love diving into mobile, even if I’m no Steve Smith. Some mobile coverage came up when looking into mobile apps, including a broad look earlier and then the recent tongue in cheek example of Cat Paint. The most popular in this category shared research from AdMob on mobile social network usage.


Personal stories run the risk of turning a trade column into Reader’s Digest if done too often, but when they work they’re easy to relate to. My mother-in-law continues to amaze me with her Twitter prowess, even if she had to take a hiatus in the fall when her netbook was in the shop; her nearly 900 followers are happy to have her back. Travelers and Los Angeles readers appreciated social media’s impact on my Labor Day vacation. I also got nostalgic for my camp counselor days, and it turns out I wasn’t alone with such experiences.


As proof that ideas literally come from everywhere, I attempted an acrostic inspired by one of the most famous prayers said on Judaism’s Day of Atonement. It wasn’t too much of a stretch to come up with 26 ways marketers sin using social media; I’ve had to ask forgiveness for at least a couple of these myself.

Top Ten Lists

If I learned anything from digg, it’s that top ten lists are easier to read, and when they work they’re fun to write. I shared top ten lists on claiming social media domains, corporate tweeting, social graph ad targeting, and most recently how social media changed our thinking this year. I wasn’t stuck on the number ten though: there were five ways to use Twitter lists, six ways to improve conferences, and twelve reasons to look at Google Wave (admittedly the Wave hype was premature).


A bit of advice: if you’re going to attempt a top 100 list, you better be able to get there. I’ve been working on one for my blog for months, and I’m stuck in the 70s. The top 100 ways to measure social media came together much faster, and I still see it tweeted on occasion.

Thanks to everyone who commented on, emailed, tweeted, blogged, and inspired these columns this year. Most importantly, thanks for sharing what’s most valuable to you – the time you spent reading these. My resolution is to continue to try and respect your time in the year ahead, and I look forward to all the conversations that these contributions trigger.

Happy New Year, and may a healthful and prosperous 2010 await us all.

This article was originally published as part of MediaPost’s Social Media Insider.