Wow, what a last ten years it has been.
For me personally, It’s been quite eventful.
I started the 2010s as a college freshman just trying to figure out what this whole adult thing meant. I am now ending 2019 as a business owner and father. Talk about a little bit of a change.
But I am not the only thing that has changed over the last 10 years. Social media has too.
And not just a little bit… it has changed BIG TIME.
Let us prove it to you. Let’s jump into the time machine and take a look back at what we deemed as the most important things in social media over the last 10 years.
Some of these are serious, some of them are a little bit goofy, but all of them have impacted social media in some way.
2010 – Instagram founded
Can you even imagine life without Instagram now? Instagram was extremely popular right out of the gate. It was the first of its kind. A platform that was almost completely visual and meant to be consumed quickly. Over the last ten years the platform has undergone tons of redesigns and rebrands, added a ton of new features, and oh ya, was purchased for 1 billion dollars by Facebook, but its core ideology has stayed the same.
What to us makes this the most important event of 2010? Simply put, Instagram changed everything. They changed how people viewed content as a part of their strategy. The “Instagram Influencer” was born which lead the way for social media stars to the main stage throughout the rest of the decade, and most importantly, they ended up growing to the size we see today.
This was also the first time we heard the whole “Oh, it’s just for the kids” thing… But we will get into that a little bit more in about 9 years ;). Hang in there.
Honorable Mention: The Swine Flu Hysteria
2011 – SnapChat founded
Clearly, the early 2010s was a good time to launch a social media platform. 2011 brought us another channel that would grow to a level that we hadn’t seen in a long time SnapChat.
Like Instagram before it, Snapchat completely changed the game. It was the first of its kind – A messaging app that lets you easily send pictures and videos back and forth to your friends… and even crazier… once they were viewed, they disappeared forever.
Since its launch, Snapchat has continued to innovate. Snapchat was the first to launch stories that have since been copied by almost every other major platform since. Snapchat filters were also the first of their kind, and again, they have been copied almost everywhere.
Snapchat is still thriving today. It had a fairly successful IPO after declining a 3 BILLION dollar offer from Facebook and is still continuing to innovate in the world of paid advertising and content today.
2012 – Kony2012
If you are anything like me, you just let out an “OMG how did I forget about that” When you read #Kony2012.
For those of you that still might not remember #Kony2012 was a social media campaign with the mission of tracking down one of Africa’s most wanted men, Joseph Kony, who was known for kidnapping children and turning them soldiers and slaves in his “army”.
I am paraphrasing a bit, but hopefully, that was enough to ring a bell for you.
Why is #Kony2012 on this list? Because it used social media in a new way – to start a movement.
The original documentary was posted on youtube. The #Kony2012 hashtag was trending worldwide. People bought shirts, wristbands, and all sorts of other merch through social media platforms. The social movement got so large, even our politicians started to act on a world event that they may have never known about before.
While this wasn’t the first social movement ever, it was certainly one of the most powerful and wide-spread which is how it ended up on our list.
We still haven’t caught Kony by the way.
2013 – Vine Released (We say Goodbye in 2017)
I have a slight smile on my face while I write this section. I loved Vine.
For those of you that might not remember, Vine was a video platform where the videos that were posted could not be any longer than 7 seconds. You also were given the ability to start and stop the video taking process at any time until the full 7 seconds were filled.
The creativity that came from this style of content creation was next level.
And those creative people are why Vine was so important and is on this list. It made a lot of people we all know and love today very very famous. Shawn Mendes sound familiar? Yes that Shawn Mendes. His music career started on Vine.
In social media terms, Vine was just a flash in the pan, but it was the first social media platform to take otherwise unknown talent and make them superstars. It set the stage for musicians, comedians, models, and goofballs to make big money just for making videos.
While Vine isn’t around today, it’s spirit lives on in another platform… but we aren’t going to talk about that for another 6 years.
2014 – ALS Ice Bucket Challenge
C’mon, this was an easy one.
Started by a golfer who challenged his cousin, The Ice Bucket Challenge started off small, but soon after ALS patient and former 3-sport athlete at Boston College Pete Frates took the challenge from his wheelchair, everything changed. It exploded, getting attention from athletes, superstars, and millions of other people across the country.
The rules were simple. Fill a bucket with ice water, dump it over your head, and then challenge others to do the same or make a donation to charity. While many people just jumped on the viral trend, many people did donate to the tune of 115 Million dollars over the course of just 8 weeks.
The ALS Ice Bucket did something that social media is meant to do – bring us together. No matter who you were and where you were from, you could agree ALS sucks. And while many people did not donate, just the amount of attention ALS received from the millions of videos uploaded was worth it.
Not only that, but it was one of the first “challenges” to appear on social media. Nowadays, most challenges are just silly dances next to cars or eating tide pods (which we might be talking about in a little bit), but they still have a lineage that can be tied back to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.
2015 – Net Neutrality
Yay! Let’s talk politics!
I know I’m sorry… But we have to bring this up because of the implications it had on the internet as we know it. We have a really good honorable mention in this section if you are looking for something to reminisce about, but not even “The Dress” Could take down Net Neutrality.
So what is it? To make a really complicated issue very short. Net Neutrality is a set of rules ensuring that Internet providers treat every website fairly. The main concern was that without net neutrality, internet providers could “throttle” performance to certain websites, making them pay in order to make their website run smoothly. Imagine a world where your internet provider makes X work really well, but Facebook is terribly slow because Facebook didn’t pay enough money.
The fear is that this would be passed down to consumers as well, forcing them to purchase “packages” of websites that they could access in their monthly plan, kind of like streaming TV services like Sling or Hulu Live.
Simply put, it allows all of us to access all information equally.
For years the FCC tried to pass different net neutrality rules only to be shot down by lawsuits from companies like Verizon. Of course they didn’t want net neutrality… they wouldn’t be able to make as much money. But finally, in 2015, the FCC was able to pass Net Neutrality.
Now would the service providers really have throttle websites and charged more? Did Net Neutrality really “save the internet”? Maybe, maybe not. But it did get in front of a potential problem which doesn’t happen a whole lot in politics today!
Honorable Mention: The Dress: Black+Blue vs. White+Gold (It was Blue and Black btw)
2016 – An election that changed the view of social media forever
Ah, an election year for the ages.
Now a lot of the fallout from the election happened years later, but because this was the year that started it all, so I felt like it had to be here.
Let’s start with fake news. Surprisingly, the term “fake news” had been used for some time before this election, but then-candidate Donald Trump popularized it here in the States by slamming different news outlets that he claimed were publishing fake stories about him ruin his chances at the presidency. But fake news quickly started to have an impact on everyone, with photoshopped photos and fake articles giving us misinformation about all the candidates. This sent us on a crazy spiral that would define social media throughout the rest of the decade and calling into question every single piece of content that is being posted on social media. Is it the platform’s job to fight fake news? Ours? Someone else’s? No one seems to know yet, but it is something that will continue to impact us long into the 2020s.
But that wasn’t the only story to come out of the 2016 election. Our friends in Russia also stole the show by using our social media platforms to try to impact the outcome of the election. I really don’t feel like getting into a political discussion here, but there is no doubt that the scope of this controversy exposed how important social media use is to our daily lives.
Overall, the majority of the 2016 election seemed to play out on social media and it set the stage for what we will likely see here in 2020.
2017 – Tide Pod Challenge
I am going to sneak this into 2017 for two reasons. 1) It technically started in 2017 even though the majority of the damage was done in early 2018 and 2) Something really important happened in 2018 and I really wanted to talk about this…
So let’s talk about eating dish soap.
For those of you that aren’t familiar with what I am talking about, a viral trend took off in 2017 that involved taking Tide Pods (you know, the things you throw into your washing machine), eating them, and filming yourself doing it. No one really knows how this thing started, but it exploded into possibly one of the weirdest viral trends of all time.
It was EVERYWHERE. You couldn’t scroll through social media without seeing a video, an article, or a meme about kids gulping down these candy lookalikes.
Why did I include it on this list? Honestly, I have no idea. Maybe because of the size of the trend or maybe how it showed that people were willing to do ANYTHING for 10 seconds of social media fame? Nah. It was just weird, and it deserves to be on this list.
Honorable Mention: X expands its character count to 280.
2018 – Facebook In Front Of Congress
And again with the politics… At least the Tide Pod thing gave us a little break.
Cambridge Analytica. You just say those words and everyone knows what you are talking about. This is a crazy complicated mess of a scandal, but I am going to try it into simple terms.
Long story short, A company called Cambridge Analytica used Facebook to farm millions and millions of data points on people all across the world and used that data to sell advertising. This exposed to the world how easily all of our data is to steal by anyone who would want it and how lax Facebook’s security protocols were. Suddenly, everyone became concerned with protecting their data.
Again, that is a really long story short, but you get the picture.
Now, this scandal erupted over the entire course of 2018 as people started to realize just how much information Facebook has on them. Not only did they have things like your birthday and relationship status, they knew how much money you make, what kind of car you drive, and much much more.
Now as someone that has spent a lot of time using Facebook advertising, I always knew about this information. You can use it all to target people with ad campaigns for as long as I can remember, but now it was common knowledge. And people were not happy about it.
All of this brings us to the end of the year where we saw Mark Zuckerburg sitting in a chair in front of congress to answer questions about how such a thing could happen. This testimony was important for a few reasons.
It showed just how bad the situation was with data security within Facebook
It showed that our congresspeople literally have no clue how the internet works.
With everything that was involved with this story and the long-term impact it will have on the world of social media. We give this story not only the year 2018, but we are also going to give it the honor of being the story of the DECADE!
2019 – Hello TikTok – The next generation takes control
And here we are – the end of the decade. What story from this last year are we going to cover?
Drumroll please…… Why am I doing that? You already ready the title of the section.. Duh.
For those of you that have not used TikTok, it is a platform allowing users to create creative videos using music and other pieces of audio as its base. It is a lot like the platform we talked about earlier in this blog, Vine.
Now Unlike the launches we covered earlier in this post, TikTok didn’t launch in 2019, but I think most people would say that 2019 was the year that made TikTok into what it is.
As you sit here reading this, TikTok has over 500 million monthly active users, putting it ahead of platforms like LinkedIn, Snapchat, and X. It is the most downloaded app on the app store ahead of apps like YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook. 41% of all teenagers use the app.
Need I go on?
All of those things show that TikTok is likely here to stay. Many of the most popular social media platforms that we know today started in the same way. They became popular among a younger demographic and those people (aka me) took the platform with them as they grew into adults.
To me, TikTok is really the first social media platform that Gen Z can call their own. This is a group of people that have been raised with this type of content and all they want to do is see more of it. It is perfectly made for a generation of kids that want to be creative and become the next viral social media star.
Now am I 100% positive that TikTok will be the platform of the future? Definitely not. I can very easily see a world where TikTok crashes and burns one day just like Vine did, but for now it has all the signs of a platform that is going to define a generation and define a new decade.
Wow… we covered a lot.
This decade was one that likely defined social media. We saw the launches of so many different platforms that we know and love today, but also saw the further development of the industry as a whole through congressional hearing and new regulations.
What will the 2020s have in store for us? Only time will tell, but I can’t wait to see you back here in 2029 to talk about all the things that defined another decade.
I’ll also almost be 40 years old. Gross.