Sept. 15, 2011
2010 was decidedly the year social media came into its own. It is impossible to view social media as separate from the Web itself. Facebook alone now accounts for 25 percent of the Web's traffic, claims more than 600 million active users (roughly one-tenth of the world's population) and founder Mark Zuckerberg received the "Citizen Kane" stamp of cultural iconography by being the subject of the movie "The Social Network." Meanwhile, Twitter signs up more than 300,000 new users a day, and YouTube exceeds 2 billion views per day. Devices designed to support social media, from smartphones such as the Droid to Apple's popular iPad, are selling out before they hit the market.
Dave Yovanno, chief executive of social media service company Gigya, says that "people are spending less time navigating the Internet on their own and are now navigating the Internet based on their friends' recommendations or their friends' activities." In February, Facebook beat out Google as the top source of traffic to entertainment and news portals.
But Facebook isn't the only face in the social media scene. According to the Huffington Post, Twitter's 100 million registered users (growing by approximately 300,000 every 24 hours) generate more that 55 million tweets a day, with 75 percent of the site's traffic coming via third-party applications.
Although Facebook reigns supreme, Twitter established itself as the Internet sensation of the year, with its popularity growing white-hot during the run-up to the midterm elections. Who can forget William Shatner going viral—and scoring yet another career boost—when he recited Sarah Palin's tweets in the form of beat poetry on The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien?
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