Written by Emma Vetriano • Published 06th January 2012

The world of social media never stays still and for many, 2011 will be remembered as the year when many of the platforms that we have been using for a while grew up and became a firm part of mainstream marketing. As Deep Focus’ CEO recently said in an interview with Mashable.com, 2011 was a year in which “roots grew deeper” in social media, but there were few big changes. “It was less ‘What’s the next Facebook?’ and more ‘What’s Facebook gonna do next?’”

But there were some significant events on the social media landscape in 2011. Here are my top five:

  • Google+ launched

Google are undoubtedly the power players in the online world, so when a bright student from Harvard set up a social network that grew and grew until it threatened to steal their crown, they were never going to take it lying down. Back in June, Google finally made it clear that they intended to challenge Facebook with the launch of their very own social network. The social media community spent the rest of the year speculating and analysing the platform and trying to work out whether or not Facebook would be threatened. The jury are still out on that one!

  • Audi referencedTwitter in a Super Bowl advert
It has become commonplace to see Facebook logos on television and print advertisements, but in February this year, Twitter proved that it was running with the big boys when Audi became the first brand to place a hashtag (#ProgressIs) in their Super Bowl spectacular. Ad space costs as much as $3 million for a 30-second spot during the NFL finals, and many Americans tune in just to watch commercials, so the fact that a new media platform became part of the strategy, put a smile on the face of social media advocates everywhere.
  • Changing Faces

Late 2011 became the era of the update for the big social media players, with Twitter, Facebook and YouTube all rolling out major changes to their appearance. The changes were largely well received and have had little effect on the function of the different platforms. What they do show however is that there is no room to sit back and relax in the world of digital. Innovation is always important for staying ahead of the game.

  • Ashton Kutcher handed control of Twitter to his PR team

Yes, it finally happened, an embarrassed celeb went public and told his fans that he was surrendering control of his Twitter feed to his PR team. Ashton Kutcher’s decision came following an ill-thought through tweet in which he raged against the dismissal of Penn State football coach Joe Paterno. Kutcher had failed to look into the circumstances of the sacking, which had involved a cover-up around child-molestation charges against Paterno’s assistant. Meanwhile, Kutcher’s split from wife Demi earlier this year has created one of the most modern of problems – Demi’s Twitter handle is @MrsKutcher. When asked if she would be changing her virtual name the actress replied that it was ‘not a priority right now.’

  • Social media spreads disorder

For those who still believed that social media was a frivolous waste of time that was the preserve of spotty teenagers gossiping about who was dating whom, 2011 came as a shock. First, we saw a wave of headlines back in April that began to suggest that social media platforms were helping to spread revolutionary fire in the Middle East, and then the London rioters were said to be spreading news about where to target through Facebook and other instant messaging sites. Calls for Government control of social media began to ring out, and the police began to use Facebook to track and predict where the next incidents would break out. But true to form, social media hit back as it became the platform through which an independent clean-up operation was organised. Word spread on Twitter and within a matter of hours over 400 volunteers arrived at Clapham Junction armed with brooms, ready to reverse the destruction of the night before.

What social media stories caught your eye in 2011?