As we return to work, dust off the cobwebs and begin the optimistic January detox, I thought it would be timely to recap the digital highlights from 2012, and even have a stab at forecasting what may be in store for 2013. 

Thinking back, 2012 was an astonishing year, packed full with Twitter scandals, world records and ridiculously infectious virals which quite simply no one could predict.

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2012 was a great year for Pinterest, the virtual pinboard network that allows you to compile a digital scrapbook encompassing anything from food and fashion, to architecture and interiors. I blogged about it back in February last year, mentioning that it was social media’s newest recruit and the one to watch, and I’ve loved watching it evolve since it dropped the ‘invite-only’ entry mechanism and welcomed us all in to fall in love with its beautiful images.

Notably, it has been a key driver of traffic across the web for many users that have embraced it and Pinterest has continued to grow by releasing brand pages, secret non-visible boards and a nifty feature, ‘30 days of Pinspiration’ for pinners, non-profits and brands to share and pin what inspiration means to them. 

It was also a remarkable year for the mighty Facebook, acquiring photo-sharing app Instagram in April for a whopping $1 billion ahead of their IPO in May.  Following the acquisition, Instagram has introduced web profiles with, perhaps unsurprisingly, a replica Facebook cover photo template and there’s chatter of Instagram following suit by advertising soon. Watch this space.

Numerous developments have been made to Facebook Timeline and their mobile applications, and they have continued to push the commercialisation of the network through the launch of paid-for ‘promoted posts’, which in turn is making more brands realise that they may have to pay if they want to continue to play. October witnessed the surpassing of one billion users which is a phenomenal milestone in itself, however, one that brings fresh privacy concerns to the horizon which they will have to contend with in 2013.

Social media really came into its own this summer when the eyes of the world turned to London 2012. The Games quickly became dubbed the ‘Social Olympics’ as digital advancements brought us closer to the action. We found ourselves being able to watch highlights on-the-go from our smart phones, congratulate athletes on their win via Twitter and download an app to review the medal tables in real-time.

This also rang true for the US election in November when the social media battle also commenced between Obama and Romney to see how each opponent was faring on social networks. Election predictions were being set based on the number of Twitter followers/Facebook likes each party had accumulated and by tracking the perceived sentiment of the status updates and tweets mentioning each opponent.

Obama won the social media battle – as well as the election, just in case you missed it – and the image posted of him in a loving embrace with Michelle, accompanied with the message “Four more years” managed to set two social media records having received more Twitter re-tweets (700,000) and Facebook likes (3.5 million) than any other post in history.

I couldn’t possibly round up 2012 without referencing the South Korean dance track and global phenomenon that is ‘Gangnam Style’. Love it or hate it, the video went viral thanks to social sharing, clocking up more than one billion views on YouTube in December, just 5 months after it was posted online. Hopefully now that we have entered 2013 we will no longer have to endure the song, or any other cringe worthy parodies for that matter, reverberating in our minds.

And with a New Year brings resolutions and predictions, so I thought I would conclude with a couple of digital predictions of my own.

As we saw in 2012, the growth of the mobile and tablet market is only set to increase as we go into 2013. This is great news for e-Commerce businesses, app developers and even retail if they can ensure to align the in-store shopping experiences with GPS, check-ins and offers. It also reveals the importance for companies to have mobile and tablet-optimised websites to make it easier for your customers/clients to browse your site whilst on-the-go.

I hope to see more from Yahoo in 2013 as they reveal the workings of recently-appointed CEO, Marissa Mayer. I’d like to see some advancement across their news network and search capability, and I’m sure she has spotted the underlying opportunity for Flickr to steal some of Instagram’s loyal followers, especially now that Instagram users have been up in arms over their ambiguous terms of service. The revised terms suggested that images may be sold on, leading to Instagram reverting back to their terms from October 2010.  

I’d like to take this chance to wish my readers a Happy New Year and thank you for your support throughout 2012. Feel free to drop any of your own digital predictions in the comment box below and we’ll recap them this time next year to see who got it right!