Social media trends in 2013: Chat apps and Chinese platforms rising stars of the year

09/12/2013

Twitter IPO could make the micro-blogging platform a serious Facebook rival for advertisers… if it can make the most of its live event–orientated audience data.

Chat Apps stole the headlines from the larger players this year, with WhatsApp, SnapChat and WeChat all getting audience figures that brands cannot ignore

Chinese Social Networks are begining to expand to western markets, bringing with them huge user numbers and targeted demographics.

24 most popular social networks in the world. This chart shows the top 24 social networks by global monthly active users. Facebook leads with almost 1.2 billion monthly users. Interestingly, the list features many region specific social networks such as Qzone, a China-based social networking site, which ranked third with half a billion monthly active users.

The year Vine, WhatsApp and SnapChat took off

In the year that Twitter went public and Facebook went ‘mobile first’, it was the rising stars in chat apps (Whats App and Snap Chat) and from China (Sina Weibo and WeChat) that made the biggest waves in social media this year. As part of our 2013 review series, we look back at the 10 biggest headlines that shaped social media, from Vine and Pinterest to Reddit and Buzz Feed.

Twitter’s IPO was the biggest story in social this year- avoiding the mistakes of Facebook with a strong debut, despite never turning a profit in its seven years of existence. Elsewhere, Yahoo continued its turnaround with the purchase of Tumblr for $1.1bn, and Google bought Waze in a largely defensive move to keep the popular social sat nav from falling in the hands of rivals (boosting its dominance of the digital maps sector in the process).

Despite the efforts of the major players, lesser known mobile apps started making big headlines in social media in 2013. WhatsApp, with its cross-platform instant messaging service, started getting over 300 million monthly users, while controversy-baiting SnapChat, with its supposedly ‘self destructing’ photo sharing tools, turned down a $3bn bid from Facebook.

In China, Sina Weibo’s Twitter style micro-blogging platform was valued at $6bn with 500m monthly users. Social network Qzone is even more impressive, with over 700m people flocking to the site. WhatsApp rival WeChat also continues to grow at a fast rate, with the offer of free mobile chat. Whatever the territory, there’s no question that the mobile space will be the next battleground for social networks as we enter 2014.

Twitter's 6-second video app ‘Vine’ sparks controversy

January 2013

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Swapping 140 characters for six seconds, Twitter has launched ‘Vine’ a video sharing app that lets users post up brief videos- with some risque results. The app, currently available on Apple's iPhone and iPad, is designed to be a simpler version of YouTube, letting users upload (and view) videos quickly. The launch follow's Twitters aquisition of Vine back in October 2012.

“We promise not to screw it up”: Yahoo buys Tumblr for $1.1bn

May 2013

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Yahoo has bought blogging platform Tumblr for $1.1bn (£725m) in cash, with CEO marisa Mayer pledging “not to screw it up” in a blog post. The deal is likely to see Yahoo integrate Tumblr into its services, in a bid to boost traffic to its other properties, such as the photo sharing site Flickr. Formed in 2006, the Tumblr blogging platform now hosts 108 million blogs, with a total of 50.7 billion posts, with a significant presence on mobile devices. Despite its fast-growing user base it has struggled to make money, and has traditionally resisted advertising.

Google buys social sat-nav Waze for $1.3bn

June 2013

Google has bought crowd-sourced navigation app Waze for a reported $1.3bn (£835m), as the firm looks to extend its sat-nav tools.

Watch this video from Bloomberg discussing the deal here:

Rise of the Reddit army: 6% of US web users now access online community

July 2013

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More than 1 in 20 (6%) American adults online use the online community Reddit, with the self-proclaimed ‘front page of the internet’ now on par with Tumblr in terms of user numbers, according to new data. The study from the Pew Center's Internet and American Life project, found that Reddit skews towards young males. Around 15% of males ages 18 to 29 visit the site, compared to the 5% of the same age. Overall, men are twice as likely as women to be Reddit users, Pew said, adding that those over 50 show little interest in the site.

Whatsapp adds voice texting as users reach 300m

August 2013

Whatsapp has added voice texts, letting users record and send voice messages, as the chat app continues to soar in popularity with 300m active monthly users worldwide.



Sina Weibo valued at $6bn: 54m users a day for ‘Chinese Twitter’

August 2013

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Sina Weibo claims that it now has 54 million active users a day, as the firm continues its battle with WeChat and Tencent for dominance in the Chinese social networking sector. Weibo now has more than $1bn in cash in its coffers and American investment firm Piper Jaffray has now upgraded its target for Sina’s stock to $95, estimating that Weibo is worth $6bn. The news comes as Sina Weibo announced $30m in ad revenue during the second quarter of this year, marking more than 200% year-over-year growth.

Internet publisher Buzzfeed ‘now bigger than Craigslist’

September 2013

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Buzzfeed, the popular social news site behind many virals and ‘top 10’ lists, has started to turn a profit four years after its launch, revealing its traffic numbers in the US are now bigger than both AOL and Craigslist. The news was announced by Jonah Peretti, founder of Buzzfeed, declaring that the publisher is going to be one of the "biggest sites on the web" in a year's time.
In a memo to his staff, Peretti has spelt out his vision of a future in which his creation will be "leading news source for the social, media, mobile world.

Pinterest offers ads for first time with ‘Promoted Pins’

September 2013

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Pinterest is testing promoted pins, as the social bookmarking site expands into advertising for the first time. The format borrows from an concept developed at Facebook and Twitter, charging advertisers to place content that is integrated with the photos of cakes and dresses already on users’ pinboards, rather than isolated ads or pop-ups. The plans were revealed by Pinterest CEO Ben Silbermann in an e-mail to users, explaining how the social network will experiment by promoting just a handful of pins in search results and category feeds.

Snapchat takes on Facebook with ‘Stories’ timeline tool

October 2013

Snapchat has launched ‘Stories’, letting users see rolling news-feeds from friends in the last 24 hours, as the popular photo sharing app looks to rival Facebook. Snapchat's popularity has risen sharply in recent years, particularly among young people, letting users send ‘self-destructing’ pictures to each other. In June, Nielsen claimed that Snapchat had more than 8m monthly active users in the US across iOS and Android, but its survey only covered adults aged 18 and above. Now, the firm is looking to capitalise on its fast growing audience with a Facebook-style newsfeed, in a bid to boost user engagement.

Watch this video showing how Snapchat stories works below:

Twitter share price soars 73% on 'TWTR' stock market debut

October 2013

Twitter's share price rose a massive 73% on its first day of trading on the New York Stock Exchange, closing at $44.90, as the social network exceeded Wall Street's expectations. The closing price, under the new trading symbol of 'TWTR' gives Twitter a value of more than $31bn (£19.3bn) and raised $1.8bn for the social network. The strong debut came despite the fact that Twitter has never turned a profit in seven years of existence. Revenue has been growing, but the company is also investing heavily in more data centres and hiring more employees.

Watch this video from the Daily Telegraph, showing the Twitter stock float as it happened, below:

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