Whether you’re a social media butterfly, a cyberspace ghost or run a PR agency delivering social media campaigns for clients, you can’t deny that 2019 was a significant year for social media. There are now over three billion active social media users. That’s nearly half the world population!
From controversial campaigns to influencer guidelines, here’s a roundup of our favourite social media moments of 2019…
The rise of TikTok
Since TikTok launched in 2018, it’s exploded and gained 500 million active users. That makes TikTok the 9thmost popular social network site, ahead of Twitter, LinkedIn, and Snapchat! What’s great about TikTok is that it’s still very much dominated by individuals, so the content remains genuine. Scroll through the TikTok discover page and you’ll most likely find dance challenges, lip syncing and user collaborations. With many popular influencers, curators and brands making their TikTok debut this year, we’re curious to see what content they’ll produce and whether TikTok will become the go-to video streaming service in 2020 instead of rival platforms YouTube and IGTV.
Influencer marketing has boomed in recent years and 2019 has been no exception. Brands increasingly turn to influencers and content creators to promote their products across their social channels with mega influencers such as Kylie Jenner charging over $1 million per post.
However, with the rise in popularity came a decrease in transparency between influencers and their audiences. The Advertising Standards Authority’s (ASA) research revealed that an alarming number of ‘regular social media users’ couldn’t identify paid posts. This lead to the introduction of ASA’s clear guidelines on sponsored content. These new guidelines now mean that all sponsored content, including affiliate links, free gifts or paid content must be labelled #ad or #spon at the start of the post. Failure to do so can result in the post being removed. Will 2020 be the year of transparency and clarity between brands, influencers and their audiences? Time will tell…
Campaigns that count
Over the past few years, we’ve seen brands increasingly taking a stand on social / political matters and it’s clear that consumers want to support brands whose values are aligned with their own. Weighing in on issues isn’t without risk though. Fear of being boycotted has brands treading carefully, but there are a few paving the way…
In 2018, Nike came out with its ‘Dream Crazy’ campaign. Nike’s original idea was to encourage everyone who “has crazy dreams and goals that may seem unsurmountable.” The video narrated by Colin Kaepernick proved to be highly controversial. Many praised Nike for its powerful message, while others criticised the brand and burned their Nike products. Despite the backlash, in February this year Nike launched ‘Dream Crazier’, a separate video but with the same overarching message. Both videos racked up over 30million views each on twitter.
Similar to Nike, Gillette released a controversial campaign early this year, they replaced their iconic slogan ‘the best a man can get’ with ‘the best a man can be’, the video addresses toxic masculinity and other negative behaviours among men. To date, the video has 1.5million dislikes, leaving us wondering was it worth it?
The issue of climate change is one of the hottest topics of this decade, but specifically in 2019 we’ve seen the evolution of climate strikes. Although this movement officially started in 2018, climate strikes began to spread globally over the course of this year. The movement was born after Swedish teen Greta Thunberg staged a protest outside the Swedish Parliament, holding a sign that translated to “School strike for the climate”. Soon after, strikes began around the world inspired by Thunberg.
No one could have predicted the number of students and adults trading school and work for activism for a day. We certainly have social media to thank for that impact. Talk and preparation of the strikes being discussed on social media really spread the word and got the momentum going. Bristol even hosted its own strike on College Green, organised by Bristol Youth Strike 4 Climate.
Arguably one of the most talked about campaigns of the year, we can’t reflect on 2019 without mentioning Innocent’s Blue vs Green debate. Following the introduction of their blue (… or green, you decide) smoothie in April this year, the drinks giant sparked the biggest Twitter storm since ‘the dress’.
What started as a very simple tweet promoting their new blue drink soon turned into something bigger. Much bigger. Social media users were quick to step in and correct the brand, stating that their drink was in fact green.The conversation surrounding the tweet went on to achieve 1m organic impressions in a day and continued for days to follow. Innocent spent half of their annual marketing spend promoting the replies to the tweet and spent a further chunk on an advert with Duncan from blue. This activity resulted in a total 33m organic impressions and 3m promoted impressions, their most successful campaign ever.
Era of employee advocacy
It may seem strange to reflect on the most memorable social media moments of the year and include an example of a brand ditching their social channels, but this announcement shocked everyone. Stating that they were tired of fighting algorithms and didn’t want to pay to appear on their audience’s newsfeed, Lush waved goodbye to their 569k Instagram followers and decided to let their voices drive the change they wanted to see. Despite coming under fire from leading industry experts, it’s interesting to see the cosmetic giant placing social back in the hands of their communities, from their founders to their staff. Will other brands follow suit? Is this the start of the era of employee advocacy?
What were your most memorable social media moments of 2019? Let us know in the comments below or connect with us on Twitter @Ambitiouspr.