4 Online Tools to Watch in 2012

Twitter and Facebook spent much of 2011 battling for social media supremacy, while Google introduced its own social network, Google +, last summer.

Experts have a range of predictions for 2012, among them that social media will get boring (perhaps the focus will shift towards using the tools instead of reporting on them as news) and that businesses will increasingly outsource content (good news for you, freelancers!). Content curation, image-sharing, and video also appear on most social media predictions.

As we welcome the new year, here are four of the websites and apps we’ll be watching.

  1. Pinterest: Design bloggers, brides-to-be, and photo junkies have been using this image-sharing site for awhile, but it’s recently gone more mainstream with a fluffy of new users. In fact, Mashable reports that Pinterest grew from 1.2 million users last August to 4 million as of December. Users “pin” images they like to one of their themed “boards” and other users can “repin” images (similar to retweets on Twitter). Book-lovers might use Pinterest as a visual representation of books they read or want to read, while novelists might create boards for each character or setting to use as virtual inspiration boards. And some bloggers and website copywriting services are already using the site to boost their traffic by pinning an eye-catching image from each post.
  2. Storify: This is social media curation tool went live in April 2011, allowing users to tell stories by collecting tweets, YouTube videos, Flickr photos, and other types of multimedia content in one spot. Recent stories include the Italian Economic Dilemma and New Year’s Eve at Occupy Wall Street. Users in other languages and media outlets like The Weather Channel and The Vancouver Sun are already using it, and we’ll be interested to see if it gains momentum this year.
  3. Instagram: This photo-sharing iPhone app is already wildly popular, and an Android app is in the works. We predict that similar services like PicplzPath, and Color (for 30-second videos) will continue driving interest in real-time photos as 2012 unfolds. MediaBistro’s 10,000 Words blog offered tips on how new organizations can use Instagram (or any of these photo-sharing tools, really) to crowdsource information or share breaking news while following to the principles of ethical journalism.
  4. Flipboard: This iPhone and iPad app for customized news reading was downloaded more than a million times within a week of its December launch. As mobile content heats up, apps that give readers greater control over the media they consume and how it’s displayed could help news organizations stay relevant. It’s also a way for journalists to cut through the clutter online and current in their beat. One of Flipboard’s competitors, Zite for iPhone, was described as the Pandora of News.
Writers, have you used any of these website or apps for reporting or consuming news? What would you add to this list?

Image courtesy of Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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About Susan Johnston

Susan Johnston is a Boston-based freelance writer whose work appears in Bankrate.com, The Boston Globe, The Christian Science Monitor, MediaBistro.com, Parade Magazine, and SELF, among other places. She is the author of The Urban Muse Guide to Online Writing Markets and blogs at The Urban Muse.

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