What’s Happened in Social Media Over the Year

The Year in Social Media: 2009

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As we did last year, we have gone back through our archives and picked out some of the most noteworthy social media items we have covered since 2009 began. Now that 2009 is almost over, it was worth going  back and seeing what all has happened.

If you come across missing items, please feel free to
share them in the comments.


In January, Twitter announced that it hired Kevin Thau as Director of Mobile Business Development, and that he would be working on a variety of different fronts as Twitter’s "first official business development guru." LinkedIn introduced a new Polls feature, and launched a bookmarklet for IE. MySpace Music made deals with Nettwerk Music Group, INgrooves, IRIS Distribution, and RoyaltyShare to bolster its catalog by hundreds of thousands of songs. YouTube expanded its e-commerce platform and started letting people delete their own comments. Digg launched the "People who Dugg this also Dugg" feature.


In February, LinkedIn launched a set of HR Tools and launched a German version. MySpace launched a mobile redesign, and Digg updated its algorithm. Facebook introduced polling ads, changed its terms of service, made some design changes to profile pages for businesses, opened its corporate blog to comments, introduced the comments box widget, and launched the "like" button. Google introduced the Social Bar and launched Friend Connect integration with Blogger.


In March, Twitter brought its search box to most people’s Twitter home page, and changed the "replies" tab to the "@username" tab. Twitter also adjusted the title tags for member pages. Where they used to go "Twitter / username" they would now go "User’s Real Name (username) on Twitter". Mahalo CEO Jason Calacanis offered to buy a spot on Twitter’s Suggested Users list.

Facebook launched a redesign, started including updates from Pages in the news feed, changed pages to operate like profiles, and changed the status box to the publisher box. They launched the ability to let users chat within apps, added ad spots to Pages, relaunched Facebook Marketplace to be powered by online classified service Oodle, launched Facebook Connect for the iPhone and iPod Touch, launched some new ad targeting options, and enabled Page owners to let people sign up to become fans via text message.

Google began implementing Portable Contacts, launched the Friend Connect API, blended user-generated content into search results on Google Maps, made Google Reader more social with commenting, allowed for richer Gmail messages, and started its own Twitter accounts.

YouTube changed the name of some video sections, LinkedIn did some redesigning of its own and enhanced Direct Ads, and MySpace was stamped on a credit card.


Google launched an event gadget for Google Friend Connect, the Digg-like "What’s Popular" gadget, and the "Get Answers" gadget for Friend Connect. Google also gave profiles vanity URLS and started putting profiles into search results.

Facebook made it easier to organize friends, opened its stream up to third-party developers, added electronic signatures for public pages, worked with the blind on accessibility, began making app recommendations, and readied its next steps in governance.

Twitter started integrating search into its interface more, and CNN showed that you can buy/sell a Twitter account. Scientists created a brain-Twitter interface.

StumbleUpon broke away from eBay and enhanced its "web stumbling." Digg launched the controversial DiggBar. Reddit launched a video site, AOL launched SocialThing, and Yahoo shifted its focus to social altogether. YouTube launched the beta version of YouTube RealTime. MySpace got some new management.


In May, Yahoo 360 went away, Digg dropped shouting, LinkedIn upped usability on the Action Bar, the Wall Street Journal gave its employees social media rules, and the Interactive Advertising Bureau released its social advertising best practices and social media ad metrics.

Google introduced Google Wave, launched a recommendation gadget for Friend Connect, launched comment translation for Friend Connect, and added more social features to Google Reader. Twitter launched full two-way SMS support for Telus, Virgin Moible, and Koodo Mobile, making it available on every major operator in Canda. Twitter also changed how users view replies.

Iran lifted its ban on Facebook, and Facebook rolled out real-time streams, announced an app directory overhaul, added pop-up notifications, and linked accounts with Gmail. YouTube launched a new way for brands to engage audiences, and began letting you log-in with your Google account.


In June, Facebook began offering keyword suggestions for advertisers, simplified the inbox, began letting users get friends’ updates via text message, and launched the Live Stream Box.

YouTube launched a page for movie trailers, FriendFeed added file sharing, LinkedIn got a new CEO and updated its search tool for recruiting, MySpace cut a big chunk of its staff, StumbleUpon launched a URL shortener, and Digg started showing Digg Ads.

Digg Ads


In July, Google launched its Facebook page, MySpace launched its email service, and LinkedIn introduced custom profiles for companies. YouTube launched its 3D experiment, doubled the size limit of uploads, and gave users the ability to share YouTube Insights stats.

A Twitter documentary was announced, and Twitter itself gave businesses a new resource and started making hashtags link. Facebook addressed privacy and photo use for ads, gave businesses a way to increase their Facebook fans, and added the ability to create events from the publisher.


In August, Facebook was readying a new ads manager, made subtle changes to its design, announced plans for privacy improvement, started integrating directly with Twitter, launched its own real-time search, implemented restrictions on sponsored status updates, updated open stream APIs, acquired FriendFeed, and began letting developers sell physical merchandise for virtual currency.

Twitter quietly took a step toward security, and announced plans to launch a feature that makes the service location-aware. Izea launched "Sponsored Tweets," and Tweetmeme brought analytics to retweeting.

Google reader got more social features, YouTube placed more emphasis on search and launched its own AdSense-like promoted videos. Delicious showed off new features for sharing, search, and its homepage. StumbleUpon made some big changes to its toolbar.


In September, Google turned the whole web into an exclusive social network with SideWiki. Yahoo launched a new contacts API, Yahoo profiles became social media profiles, and the company launched the Twitter-like Yahoo Meme in English. Microsoft added MySpace activity updates to Windows Live, and Bing announced it was readying sharing features for search results.

A sick poll was discovered on and removed from Facebook, and Facebook announced its translation plans, and that it had roughly the same amount of people as the entire U.S. population. Facebook also added tagging from status updates, and launched Facebook Lite in the U.S. and India.

MySpace Music launched in Australia, and Myspace users started being able to sync updates with Twitter. LinkedIn made profile organization easier, a record label was launched for YouTube stars, and YouTube began readying a friend-finder feature.

Pizza Hut and other brands used Twitter to help feed the hungry, Digg made changes to its nofollow policy, the Washington Post’s leaked social media policy faced criticism, and real-time search engines Collecta and OneRiot launched APIs.


In October, Bing scored deals with Twitter and Facebook, while Google scored one with Twitter. Mozilla shared its plans for integrating social media and email into one inbox, and Twitter partnered with its first charity. LinkedIn announced that it surpassed 50 million users.

MySpace introduced new music features, StumbleUpon launched a new design with more of a search focus, YouTube got real-time search for comments, and the only known video footage of Anne Frank appeared on YouTube.

Facebook confirmed testing of a new design, made share buttons more useful, gave groups walls, tried harder to get page owners to verify, and presented new obstacles for application developers. They also launched the Create Application API.


In November, Google eased the retrieval of SideWiki entries for entire sites, Google Wave got a feature for following, and Google launched some new features for Google Friend Connect.

Facebook tested new design changes, and continued work on privacy changes. Facebook and Twitter both made their way into dictionaries and onto video game consoles.  Twitter made geotagging tweets possible, and talked about plans which would make its suggested usres list more like Twellow’s. Twitter also changed launched Twitter Lists, gave apps access to people search, rolled out the controversial retweet feature, and changed "What are you doing?" to "What’s Happening?".

LinkedIn opened up its platform to developers, Yahoo began showing tweets for news results, MySpace launched new music charts, Salesforce announced its "Facebook for the enterprise," YouTube connected news outlets with citizen reporters, PayPal launched new APIs to take over mobile and social apps, Microsoft launched a big redesign of MSN, Opera launched Opera Unite, Digg launched Digg Trends.


In December, Google, Facebook, and YouTube all got new URL shorteners. Twitter continued expansion into new languages, and announced plans for business features. Google launched real-time search in the search results.

LinkedIn began testing a new design, and launched faceted search, Facebook began giving translators awards, adjusted privacy controls, and formed a board for online safety, MySpace launched new APIs, upgraded users’ mobile experience, and acquired iMeem, Bing launched new maps with apps, and Yahoo deepened its integration with Facebook. Digg released a new version of its API. Also, the new FTC guidelines went into effect.

Wrapping Up

Of course, there has been much more that has happened over the year in social media. I think it might be close to impossible to cover every single thing. Were there things that happened that you think should have been included here? Add them in the comments. That will only serve to make the piece more comprehensive for future readers.


What’s Happened in Social Media Over the Year
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  • http://socialnetworkbuzz.wordpress.com/ Vaibhav Kalamdani

    Hey Chris, Thank You so much for this post. Year 2009 has indeed been great for the digital media industry, with several companies embracing social media. I believe year 2010 promises to be even better and challenging, with more and more SMEs leveraging the platform to connect with the consumers.

  • Guest

    Should of mentioned when you screwed all your readers and switched the links to no follow
    forgot what month that was but that was the last time I was here 😉

  • http://www.gene-ballou.info Gene

    Thanks for a great article. I’ve been active on the big four (MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube) but haven’t tried to do any of those other sites. Looks to me like it was a BIG YEAR for social media! I was especially interested in the “Should Obama Be Killed?” poll, and the video of Anne Franke.

  • http://www.newhorizons123.com Julie Weishaar

    Thanks for putting this interesting overview together and for sharing it with us.

  • http://www.kidneystone-symptoms.com abqarino

    Thanks for the article. Very nice summary of what happened in 2009. it saved me a lot of time reading several bogs.

  • http://www.wizard-marketing.co.za/ Ian MacOlive

    Thanks for the post. Fascinating stuff. 2009 was without doubt THE year for social media and internet marketing growth! As an Internet Marketing consultant based in South Africa, I am looking forward to an even better 2010, mainly because of the Soccer World Cup being held here and the incredible marketing opportunities it presents. From the social media aspect alone, it’s going be fantastic!

  • http://www.signature.gb.com Steve web marketeer

    As a marketing consultant, the biggest innovations

    A) RSS feeds. Google buying feed burner proves this

    B) the ability for facebook users to live update their twitter account and visa versa. This integration is becoming more commom place.

    C) Google indexing live content to improve search

  • http://bang-ir.blogspot.com/2009/12/peluang-usaha-ahasu-gnaulep_2972.html Guest

    wow,..nice analisa. I Hope next year be even better

  • http://galleryddl.blogspot.com/2009/12/how-to-sell-social-media.html Social Media Sells

    I really liked this post summing up all the activities in case of social media for the last year. I believe the next year will be even better in terms of social media. We may start watching new things like entrance of social media in politics or ministers interacting with the common people with help of the same.

  • http://www.thegwave.net Chris Lang

    With all this innovation something has to give and on the tail of all this MyBlogLog is now rumored to be shutting down in January via ReadWriteWeb. As one of the early innovators I hope to see MyBlogLog sold rather than just abandoned. With the large number of users there it seems a loss.

    Second, screw follow / nofollow, that is not what commenting on blogs is about. Just as many don’t understand Google Wave, it is about the conversation, not the link.

  • http://www.thegwave.net Chris Lang

    2009 should also be heralded as the year Twitter and FaceBook went mainstream.

    It was the CNN / Ashton Kutcher / Oprah thing that made Twitter and FaceBook a household word that the everyman now knows. In fact it is now impossible to stop most any news anchor, sports guy or weather man to stop saying Twitter or Facebook every five minutes.

    Look at any traffic graph for the last year for the Twitter of Facebook domains. You will see a traffic graph any site on the planet to be VERY jealous of.

    It will be interesting to see what happens in the year to come. Will Google be able to take away a chunk of that traffic with Wave? Will we see these two unprofitable behemoths join MySpace as has beens? Many say there is no where to go but down. It is going to be interesting what ever happens…..

  • http://www.sabmiller.in Guest

    i admire your research , gud post…thanks for sharing these facts

  • http://www.buywomenshoe.com heels com

    Google launched an event gadget for Google Friend Connect, the Digg-like “What’s Popular” gadget, and the “Get Answers” gadget for Friend Connect. Google also gave profiles vanity URLS and started putting profiles into search results. This I also paid attention to .

  • Akhil

    Thanks a bunch, Chris! You really integrated some of the best happenings on a short note. It is just great to read what we missed the whole year! …Hats off to you..

  • http://www.michaelghurston.com Michael G. Hurston

    Great write up! I’m looking forward to what will be happening in the realm of social media through 2010. Perhaps with so many companies saving money by utilizing SM instead of traditional advertising, such as Print and TV ads, we’ll start to see businesses actually start making money again and a lot more jobs come back.

  • http://www.specialist-gifts.biz decorativeliving

    Firstly five stars for your article well done. I think that anybody who has a business website is missing out on potential new business if they do not use social media I have checked that my business website traffic has gone up by 33% and my blog well that has gone up by over 100% there are loads out there to choose for example I have gone with facebook, twitter and a few others. One thing is you do need to put the work in to get the rewards.



    Decorative Living

    The World of Unique Gifts

  • http://blogs.catapultsystems.com/rnellis Robert Nellis – Social Media Consultant

    Bunch of changes. It’s amazing that all of this happened in just a year!

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