I’d guess there would be few people who’d argue that 2009 was the biggest year for social media to date, in terms of participation numbers alone. I’m the first to admit that while quantity isn’t always as meaningful as quality, a handful of the top leaders when it comes to numbers on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube certainly demonstrate the power of spreadable media.
Susan Boyle: 100,000,000+ hits (and counting)
Scottish singer, Susan Boyle, didn’t look the part when she took the stage on “Brittan’s Got Talent” in the spring of 2009. Her homely appearance had Simon Cowell rolling his eyes from the moment she stepped out behind the curtain. However, when she sang the first note, her angelic voice captured audiences. And once the performance was posted on YouTube, she became an international sensation. This fall, Boyle’s YouTube video hit 10,000,000 views—the most in history.
Michael Jackson: 10,465,618 fans (and counting)
Of all the social media websites, Facebook is certainly one of the most personal. There we demonstrate our personalities, behaviors and likes/dislikes—often distinguished by the badges of specific fan pages on our profiles.
This time last year, Barak Obama was the leader of the pack on Facebook, but in mid-2009, the Michael Jackson page took the president’s record and “beat it” shortly after the death of The King of Pop. Even though MJ is no longer with us, the Epic Records-managed Facebook page continues to distribute information about the singer, links to relevant news stories and promotion of the concert bio flick “This is It.”
Ashton Kutcher: 4,223,448 followers (and counting)
The art of tweeting comes from frequent updates with a strong point of view. Millions of people have taken to the microblogging trend, but few have mastered the art of garnering followers better than one Hollywood actor.
For the past year, Ashton Kutcher has become one of the most accessible celebrities, regularly updating his account with daily musings, links to interesting organizations he’s involved in and other topics his fans would appreciate. He also used his Twitter audience for good when he challenged CNN to reach 1 million followers. He won the bet in April 2009 and he delivered on his promise—donating 10,000 bed nets to third world countries on World Malaria Day.