While wrapping up the 2010s on social media, we found there were just too many social media trends that shaped the decade for just one post. Social media has also changed how language evolves, what it means to be an influencer, how permanent sharing content is, and how important environmental and political issues are discussed.
#1. Global Growth Skyrocketed For Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram
While the 2010s were a decade of great growth for social media in general, three platforms especially stand out. According to Statista, the volume of monthly active users on Facebook increased from 431 million in Q1 2010 to 2.449 billion monthly active users in Q3 2019. Meanwhile Statista reported that Twitter went from 30 million monthly active users in Q1 2010 to 330 million monthly active users in Q1 2019. With Instagram, Vox found that they had 30 million users (and zero revenue) in 2012 when they were acquired by Facebook. Fast forward to 2019, and Instagram has 1 billion monthly active users.
#2. The Beginning of Ephemeral Content
The 2010s was the decade when social media not only cracked the code for making content more temporary, but turned that into a selling point. Snapchat launched in 2011 with the unique product wrinkle that Stories on the platform are only viewable for 24 hours, while in August 2016, Instagram Stories introduced the same concept to an older audience. The innovation was quickly embraced by business, with the number of brands posting Instagram Stories increased by 63x in Q4 2019 compared to Q4 2017.
The rise of on-demand content on the internet has had numerous advantages for consumers, but it also erased any sense of immediateness. Be it a television show or a social media post, the online audience had become trained to assume that any piece of content can be accessed later, often meaning it’s never viewed in real-time. The value of Instagram Stories for brands, and ephemeral content in general is it’s gone tomorrow, so it reinvests the audience in the now.
#3. Influencers Started Getting Paid
In 2010, there were 1.1 Million Tweets that labeled themselves as being Paid or Sponsored, by 2019 there were more than 6 Million Tweets labeled as Paid or Sponsored posts. The increase is emblematic of a larger shift in social media during the 2010s in general, where the marketing impact of social media content creators was finally being recognized. With top influencers having bigger audiences than many TV shows, and technology solutions like ListenFirst being able to better quantify the demographics and value of that following, brands could for the first time weigh the social media ROI of branded content campaigns against more traditional advertising channels.
Additionally, through sponsored posts with micro-influencers and nano-influencers, brands learned how to reach smaller, loyal audience segments, for even more targeted campaigns.
#4. The Decade The Audience Stans For The Word Stan
Remember back in the year 2000 when Stan was just a proper name or the title of a really popular Eminem song? By the end of the 2010s, that had all changed. There were 28.8 Million Tweets talking about Stans in 2019 compared to just 139K Tweets in 2010. During that interim, social media slowly evolved the way people talk. In April 2008, Stan was first used as a verb to describe being a huge fan of someone in a Tweet stating “I stan for santogold. I may even like her more than MIA.” and gradually over time, that new usage began to take hold on social media.
With as much interpersonal communication seemingly happening over social media as IRL; language is increasingly going to evolve online, a trend which “Stans” exemplifies.
#5. The Element of Surprise Is What Makes Super Bowls Most Super
There were more than 47 Million Tweets mentioning the Super Bowl the day of the game during the 2010s, but what caused the highest peaks in conversation is the most telling. 2013 came out on top, with 7.2 Million game day Tweets mentioning the Super Bowl, due to the half hour blackout that occurred in the New Orleans SuperDome and the famous Oreo “you can still dunk in the dark” Tweet. The next highest total happened in 2017, with 6.7 Million game day Tweets mentioning the Super Bowl when the Patriots recovered from a 25-point deficit to win in overtime.
For live events, the audience is way more likely to post about what they didn’t expect to happen, and the more unexpected the event, the more social media chatter there will be.
#6: The 2010s was The Decade People Started Caring About Climate Change
Hopefully it won’t end up being too little too late, but the decade saw a significant uptick in the social media conversation about the health of our planet. On Twitter, there were 52.9 Million mentions of either Global Warming or Climate Change in 2019, up from 1.6 mentions in 2010—or 33X as many mentions compared to the beginning of the decade.
One of the biggest advantages of social media, is the ability through features like Groups or hashtags to connect like minded people who otherwise might not find each other in real life. Going forward, social media will continue to be a valuable amplification tool for social and environmental issues, giving concerned individuals a merged, more powerful voice.
Social media has actually been around since the now obscure site Six Degrees in 1997, but the 2010s was the decade when social media went from popular among young people to completely ubiquitous. Rather than peaking as a passing fad, social media has fundamentally changed the way people communicate with each other, with all signs pointing to social platforms becoming even more integral to our lives in the upcoming decade.