#20: Caring About the Climate
Greta Thunberg and the other voices speaking up about climate change are finally being heard. There were 52.9 million mentions discussing Global Warming and Climate Change in 2019, compared to only 1.6 million such mentions in 2010.
In fact in 2019 alone, there were 12,950,394 mentions of Greta Thunberg, showing how much of an impact a single individual can have raising awareness of a single, massive issue using social media. Social media has brought people together from around the world to fight for issues they care about; to connect, participate, and influence local, state and federal governments and hold lawmakers accountable for the decisions they make that affect the future of our planet. Every voice can be heard equally on social media, and the most resonant messenger around policy issues like global warming doesn’t necessarily have to be someone with the authority to make the change.
#19: The Unexpected Drives Super Bowl Conversation
The Super Bowl generated 7,176,204 game day Tweets in 2013, which was the highest such total during the 2010s. Meanwhile the 2017 Super Bowl received 6,690,385 Game Day Tweets and was the second highest total during the decade. 2013 was the year that the Super Bowl was interrupted for a half hour when most of the lights went out in the New Orleans SuperDome, which is also famously remembered for the related Oreo “you can still dunk in the dark” Tweet. With the case of the 2017 Super Bowl, that was the year that New England came back from a 25 point deficit and beat the Falcons in overtime.
The more unexpected a Super Bowl is, the more people will be talking about it on social media, and brands that are agile enough to be part of that conversation in real-time will reap the benefits.
#18: Calling Dr. Freud
In the past decade, the social media conversation around mental health related terms of anxiety, therapy, psychology, psychotherapy, and depression grew exponentially. There were 107.97 million Tweets mentioning those terms in 2019 compared to only 5.36 million Tweets using those terms in 2010.
While it would be an oversimplification to attribute people talking more about mental health issues on social media to any single reason, a big contributor is how platforms like Twitter and Facebook lend themselves to niche conversations. Through just the simple act of adding a hashtag or joining a Facebook Group, the audience is able to connect to people struggling with similar issues and lean on that online community for support.
#17: Social Network Global Usage
While the ascent of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram during the past decade might seem inevitable in retrospect, it really wasn’t. For instance, In 2010, Myspace was still claiming to have 130 million monthly global active users. Still, that turned out to be Myspace on the downswing of popularity as newer social networks took its place. During the decade Facebook went from 431 million monthly users in Q1 2010 to 2.449 billion monthly users in Q 3 2019. Meanwhile Twitter grew from 30 million monthly active users in Q1 2010 to 330 million active monthly users in Q1 2019 while Instagram which had 30 million monthly users when Facebook acquired them has done even better. As of 2019, there are 1 billion monthly active users on Instagram.
We’ve learned in the past that social networks can go from ubiquitous to irrelevant in a fairly short period of time, but Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram all seem well positioned for the future.
#16: Stan Goes From A Song To Social Media Shorthand
Stan was a song that was released by Eminem in the year 2000, about a mentally unstable fan. It was a big hit, Eminem sang it with Elton John at the Grammys, but there was no way to predict what it would become over the next, nearly twenty year period. Stan was first used as a noun meaning an obsessive fan by Nas in the 2001 diss track “Ether”, but didn’t really take off until social media got involved. The Oxford English Dictionary cited April 2008 as the first recorded instance of someone using Stan as a verb, in a Tweet that stated “I stan for santogold. I may even like her more than MIA.” and the UrbanDictionary added the term in the same year.
From there the social media conversation about Stans snowballed. There were 138,755 Tweets mentioning Stans in 2010, with that rising to 6,482,343 Twitter mentions in 2017, the year the Oxford English Dictionary added the term, and that skyrocketed to there being 28,760,460 Tweets talking about Stans in 2019, the year the Merriam-Webster’s dictionary added it. Social media has changed the way language evolves, and in the coming years as social media becomes even more central to how we communicate, new words or new meaning to old phrases will be adapted into the public conversation even quicker.
#15: Influencers Change Online Advertising
If the 2000s were the decade that social media personalities were struggling to monetize their online following, the 2010s were the decade that they finally figured it out. On Twitter, there were 6,036,447 Tweets that self-identified in 2019 as being a Paid or Sponsored post, up from 1,050,940 such Tweets in 2010. Putting aside the top tier of social influencers, for instance Kylie Jenner is reportedly paid $1.2 million to share a single Instagram post plugging a product; micro-influencers or people with less than 100K followers but a loyal audience can comfortably make $40,000 to $100,000 per year.
With social media analytics tools like ListenFirst able to accurately gauge the specific demographics and value of a social media following, influencers finally have the framework in place to be properly compensated; while brands and advertisers have a far more targeted way to reach consumers.
#14: More Rihanna In More Contexts
Rihanna spent the 2010s at work, work, work, work, work; releasing albums like Anti, started a successful makeup line with Fenty Beauty, disrupting the lingerie industry with Savage x Fenty, and showing off her acting chops in movies like Ocean’s 8. This diversified approach to her career helps explain why the social media conversation around Rihanna increased by 7.4X over the decade, compared Tweets mentioning her in 2019 to 2010.
Twitter interest in Rihanna peaked in 2015 which when she was mentioned in 46.65 million Tweets and the events driving that peak in conversation included video of her twerking in bikini at the Carnival in Barbados, Kanye West bringing Rihanna out of the crowd for an unplanned performance of FourFiveSeconds at FYF Fest, and pictures of Rihanna looking especially on point in Paris during a Dior show, a brand she was a spokeswoman for. A big part of what being a social media influencer during the decade was the ability to look glamorous and few did it better than a fashion icon like Rihanna.
#13: The Rise of DTC Brands
Direct To Consumers brands have benefited as much as any business type in the 2010s around social media outreach, because audience targeting is far more central to success than existing scale. In that level playing field, the 5 Top DTC brands by revenue actually generated a higher ListenFirst social engagement score in 2018 than the Top 5 Brick and Mortar stores by revenue did in the same year – 2.9 million engagements compared to 2.73 million engagements.
While that year still is a slight outlier, that brands like Stitch Fix are receiving a competitive amount of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr engagement with a brand like Walmart, with that huge disparity in name recognition; speaks to how much social media has changed the retail industry.
#12: The Beginning of Ephemeral Content
GIFs, music, emoji sliders! Shoppable stickers, question stickers and new fonts and type mode! Who doesn’t love a great story? Instagram was all about making Stories more fun and interactive and it worked. The number of brands posting Instagram Stories increased by 63x in Q4 2019 compared to Q4 2017 when brands started discovering the power of Stories.
Stories, which disappear after 24 hours, has changed the way people share and consume content on social media. While Snapchat launched Stories in 2013, it wasn’t until Instagram created its own version of the feature in 2016 that Stories really took off. Unlike the Instagram feed, Stories are meant to be fun, spontaneous, and unpolished, taking the pressure off users to post only high-quality, glamorous, Instagram-worthy content. The change not only ushered in a new content format that advertisers have to contend with, it has also fast-fueled the dominance of Instagram and its place in society.
#11: Beyonce Slays On Social Media
Beyoncé owned the decade on social media, with there being 8X more Tweets mentioning her in 2019 compared to 2010. Peak Beyoncé occurred in 2014 when she was mentioned in 46.3 million Tweets and that year exemplifies what the social media audience loves about her. There were over 1 million Tweets mentioning Beyoncé on the day of the 2014 Grammys as she opened the event singing Drunk In Love with Jay-Z, with other huge spikes in Twitter conversation occurring around her dueting with Jay-Z on Partition at the 2014 BET Awards, and her performing a medley and receiving the Video Vanguard Award at the 2014 VMAs.
More than any current performer, Beyoncé is able to turn a live musical performance into an event and social media is an ideal medium for the legion of BeyHive to communally participate in that excitement.
#10: Millennials Were Most Interested In Same-Sex Marriage
When the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage on July 26, 2015, there were 4,632,967 Tweets mentioning the event on Twitter, with 74% of that conversation coming from Millennials, who were born between 1981 to 1997. Arguably the most important change in civil rights laws in a generation, the legalization of gay marriage was of the most interest to the age group which advertisers are most eager to reach.
It’s a great example why brands spent the 2010s increasingly putting their weight behind just social causes. Whether it was brands speaking out on gay rights, participating in viral moments like The Ice Bucket Challenge which raised millions for the ALS Association, or responding to grassroots Twitter campaigns asking them to pull their advertising from the TV shows of #MeToo perpetrators; brands were inevitable participants in the social issue part of social media because this is what their audience cared about as well.
#9: Trump Got His Best Twitter Numbers From CNN
In a presidency that’s given us ‘Covfefe’, plus Tweets claiming victory for getting A$AP Rocky released from prison, a photoshopped image of President Trump’s head on Rocky Balboa’s body, and a declassified picture of the dog that helped kill an ISIS leader, it’s actually a Tweet about CNN that was President Trump’s most Retweeted during the decade. Sharing a WWE video edited so he’s wrestling the CNN logo to the ground, the July 2, 2017 Tweet about #FraudNewsCNN was Retweeted 310.4K times and received 39.4 million video views.
With President Trump Tweeting or Retweeting as many as 115 times in a single day, he’s permanently changed the way politicians communicate, largely bypassing the traditional media to use social media to deliver his messaging directly to his political base.
#8: The Impact of Netflix
Netflix welcomed 584X more new fans to their social media accounts in 2019 than in 2010, but the massive growth of the streaming behemoth during the 2010s has not only affected their own popularity, it’s changed our culture.
How we consume content has radically changed during the last ten years, thanks to the Netflix business model of releasing an entire season of television at once instead of in a one episode per week drip. Reflecting that change in audience viewership habits, there were 23.8X more Binge related Tweets in 2019 compared to 2010.
Additionally, the ascent of Netflix has radically changed the dating scene. Instead of heading out to a movie theater, now couples are streaming those films at home, as exemplified by there being 868,589 Tweets mentioning Netflix and Chill in 2019.
#7: Keeping up with the Kardashians
That there were 9.4X more Twitter mentions of the Kardashian and Jenner clan in 2019 than in 2010, will come as no surprise to anyone who lived through the decade but what drove the largest peak of interest around the family is somewhat counterintuitive.
While the Kardashian/Jenners are mostly associated with reality show drama, Instagram thirst pics, and celebrity gossip, the apex of social interest around the family actually occurred in 2015, around Caitlyn Jenner coming out as a transgender woman.
There were 3,044,914 Tweets mentioning Transgender issues in 2015, up 134% from the volume of Tweets mentioning Transgender issues in 2014. In the years after Jenner came out, the conversation she helped bring into the mainstream continued to grow, for instance there were 7,015,251 Tweets mentioning Transgender issues in 2019.
#6: Deflategate Deflates A Standout Decade By Tom Brady
It looks increasingly likely that not only will 2020 mean the end of a decade, it will also mean the end of Tom Brady’s unprecedented run as the quarterback for the New England Patriots. In a decade that Tom Brady won 3 more Super Bowl rings, and went from an unambiguous future Hall Of Famer to being known as possibly the greatest quarterback to ever play the game, there was a little more tarnish on his reputation on social media.
The volume of Tweets mentioning Tom Brady actually peaked in 2015 around the Deflategate scandal when he was mentioned in 6,222,972 Tweets, as speculation ran wild over what his punishment would be and how culpable he was. The second highest Tweet total for Tom Brady mentions came in 2017 with 5,188,506; around his 25 point comeback against the Atlanta Falcons in the Super Bowl.
#5: Social Media Illustrates Growth Of Amazon
By the end of the 2010s, Jeff Bezos had replaced Carlos Slim as the richest person in the world, and social media helps paint the picture of how much more central Amazon became to our lives in the decade. For example, there were 5,211,508 Tweets that mentioned the Twitter account @Amazon in 2019, up from 151,300 Tweets mentioning @Amazon in 2010.
During the decade, how brands and the social media audience interacted with each other continued to evolve. Brands usage of social media became ubiquitous, and by the end of the decade, platforms like Instagram allowed brands to sell products to customers without ever leaving the Instagram app. Meanwhile, social media also became a customer service tool, with the audience publicly and privately using social media to contact brands with questions and comments.
#4: #MeToo Goes Mainstream
For the longest time, sexual harassment and sexual assault were issues that almost no one talked about, yet after Harvey Weinstein became exposed suddenly everyone was discussing these issues on social media. Since Alyssa Milano Tweeted about Me Too on October 15, 2017, there were 22,036,790 tweets sharing the #MeToo hashtag during the past decade.
Social media has evolved into a public check and balance against the inappropriate behavior of those more powerful, and as we enter the 2020s, social media will continue to serve that role because unlike in the past, people are finally listening.
#3: Zombies Were More Popular Than Dragons
Understanding the extent that The Walking Dead dominating social media during the 2010s isn’t even possible without comparing it to the other most popular fantasy show during the decade. Between 2010 – 2019, there were 2.7X more Responses to The Walking Dead content on social media than there were Responses to Game Of Thrones content on social media.
Fantasy TV shows constantly generated a high volume of social media conversation during the last decade, and judging by how many people were talking about The Mandalorian and Watchmen at the end of 2019, that will continue to be true in the 2020s.
#2: Pride Isn’t Slowing Down
At the beginning of the decade, it would have been almost impossible to fathom how mainstream celebrating Pride Month would be become on social media. There were only 18,826 mentions of Pride Month on Twitter in June 2010, compared to 7,521,273 Twitter mentions in June 2019.
A big contributor to Pride Month becoming more of a social media conversation is brands realizing it’s a key opportunity to reaffirm their commitment to the LGBTQIA+ community. Going forward, expect even more brands to shape campaigns around inclusionary messaging during the month.
#1: A Tale of Two Weddings
While Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are planning to take a step back from the British royal family, reportedly in part because they feel unwelcome, they actually had the royal wedding most embraced on social media. There were 8,943,133 mentions of their wedding on Twitter in May 2018 compared to 3,727,312 Twitter mentions of the Prince William and Kate Middleton wedding in April 2011.
When Prince Charles married Diana Spencer in July 1981 it was primarily a TV event, but in the 2010s royal weddings were largely experienced on social with fans sharing their excitement in real-time and brands finding clever ways to reference the event.
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