There’s no doubt about it, 2020 has been a year like no other.
And while many of us will be thankful to see it come to a close, this year has been a game changer for digital-first experiences.
From the Tiger King phenomenon to a Gen Z-fronted Ratatousical on TikTok, it’s been full of surprising, delightful, and downright bamboozling moments.
Ready to recap the best of them? Buckle up, it’s about to be a wild ride:
The Top 10 Social Media Moments of 2020:
- TikTok Went Viral
- Brands Became Broadcasters
- Global Politics Took Center Stage
- Instagram Launched…Pretty Much Everything You Could Think Of
- So. Many. Meme. Moments
- Every Platform Released a Stories Feature
- Tiger King Broke the Internet
- E-commerce Entered the Building
- TikTok Gave Rise to New Wave of Entertainers
- Ruper Grint Stole David Attenburgh’s Crown
Social Media Moment #1: TikTok Went Viral
2020 will forever be the year that TikTok took the world by storm.
But what made TikTok so successful, and why now?
#1: TikTok Trends Infiltrated Popular Culture
Despite initially seeing huge traction with a Gen Z audience, the app has successfully infiltrated all demographics — with popular TikTok trends transcending almost every social platform, as well as traditional broadcast channels.
@charlidameliomake sure you watch me on the tonight show with @jimmyfallon tonight!!♬ Famous Friend Check – Model Roz
TikTok has also been embraced by mainstream celebrities. The Flip the Switch Challenge was recreated by A-listers ranging from Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez, Emily Ratajkowski and the Fat Jewish, and comedian Kate McKinnon and Senator Elizabeth Warren.
@jloWait for it…😂♥️ @arod13♬ Nonstop – Dallin and Bella
#2: Collaboration Over Competition
The app’s emphasis on collaboration has given rise to some of the internet’s most creative content, from viral dance trends to comedy sketches and transformations.
And just when we thought 2020 couldn’t get any more surreal, thousands of TikTok users came together to create a virtual Ratatouille Musical — or a Ratatousical, for short.
@e_jaccsA love ballad #remy #rat #ratatoille #disney #wdw #disneyworld #ratlove #ratlife #rats #Alphets #StanleyCup #CanYouWorkIt♬ Ode to Remy – Em Jaccs
Actors, producers and prop designers turned to TikTok to put on a show unlike any on Broadway.
The result? Well, it’s pretty amazing — and goes to show just how creative, collaborative and far-reaching the viral video platform can be.
@danieljmertzlufftRemy: The Musical OG Song @e_jaccs add. Vocals @cjaskier #remy #ratatouille #musicaltheatre #broadway #singer #musical #disney #fyp #disneymusicals♬ original sound – danieljmertzlufft
Did you know? You can now plan and schedule TikTok videos with Later! Get exclusive early access on web and mobile now:
2020 Social Media Moments #2: Brands Became Broadcasters
Millions of businesses closed their physical doors to reduce the spread of COVID-19 this year.
But as the saying goes: when one door closes, another one opens. And forward-thinking brands and businesses took to social media to bring their community together during challenging times.
The unforeseen hero of this shift? Instagram Live.
Despite once being a relatively underused feature, Instagram Live had a huge resurgence this year. In April, Facebook and Instagram saw a 40% increase in usage, with views for Instagram Live and Facebook Live doubling in one week.
As a result, brands became so much more than the products they sell in 2020.
Founders and employees alike showed up to provide valuable content for their audiences, from virtual yoga to home baking — and everything in between.
Ever quick off the mark, Instagram has since introduced ways to monetize the Live experience.
Businesses can now use Instagram Live Shopping to add a shoppable product link to their broadcast, and viewers can pay for Instagram Live Badges to tip their favorite creators.
TikTok also launched a new Live feature for creators to engage with their communities, while LinkedIn introduced a Live stream functionality for pre-approved brands on the network.
Ready to take your brand Live? Find out how in our Step-by-step Guide to Going Live on Social Media!
2020 Social Media Moments #3: Global Politics Took Center Stage
Once upon a time, social media was mainly used for sharing picture-perfect snapshots from beautiful, far flung locations.
But not any more.
In 2020, activism took center stage — with more users sharing their political beliefs, educating others, and supporting social causes than ever before.
Social media is increasingly ingrained in our everyday lives and culture, and is arguably the most instrumental channel for increasing public awareness and advocating for change. So this shift towards activism is not only important, but overdue.
In June this year, over 21M #BlackoutTuesday posts were shared on Instagram in support of the The Black Lives Matter movement.
Activists, brands, celebrities, and businesses took to social media to speak out against racial injustice in a way that has never been seen before — prompting new dialogues and a sense of solidarity.
@crissa_aceWe are stronger together…no matter the color or sexual preference… let fight for what’s right together! ✊🏽 ##blacklivesmatter ##passtherock♬ My Tears Are Becoming A Sea – M83
Similarly, we’ve seen social media become a huge part of voter mobilization in 2020.
On TikTok, creators came together to Tok the Vote, a campaign designed to encourage more young people to vote and make a difference in the 2020 election.
@tok.the.voteJoin us for the #TokTheVote Voter Registration Campaign! Link in bio to sign up! #tiktokcreator #registertovote #genz #tokthevote♬ Say So (Instrumental Version) [Originally Performed by Doja Cat] – Elliot Van Coup
16-year old Aidan Kohn-Murphy started the account “TikTok for Biden” (now known as @gen.zforchange) which has over 1.2M followers. Some videos have over 8.8M views.
And it doesn’t end there. From eco-activism to LGBTQ+-rights, social media has become a welcome home for socio-political activism on every front.
Looking for inspiration on how to support a cause on social? Check out these 9 Brands Driving Meaningful Change on Instagram.
2020 Social Media Moments #4: Instagram Launched… Pretty Much Everything You Could Think Of
Instagram has always been a pioneer when it comes to launching new features, but this year has been a real bumper pack.
To name just a few, the social media juggernaut launched:
In fact, the tech giant has been so busy that housing all of these new features has been a challenge in its own right.
The result? A Homepage redesign — but not everyone was pleased to see it.
A lot of respect Adam for your transparency and value this type of content, but for me your comment above is the key issue for a lot of users. You’re all so busy racing to the next ‘change’ you forget the reason so many of us visit your app. To use it for the core functions.
— Alfie Green (@ItsAlfieGreen) November 13, 2020
Despite being met with mixed reviews, Instagram’s focus on Reels and Shopping is likely here to stay — and something that we can expect to gain even more traction in 2021.
Ready to get to grips with Reels? Discover everything you need to know in our Ultimate Guide to Instagram Reels!
2020 Social Media Moments #5: So. Many. Meme. Moments
Ask, and the internet shall deliver.
Memes dominated almost every social platform this year, with many offering a humorous and relatable take on current events.
Popular trends included the “how it started, how it’s going” meme:
The Reese Witherspoon January-September meme:
And the Dolly Parton Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Tinder pictures meme:
2020 was also the birth year of several iconic memes that can only be described as perfectly random.
A guy on skateboard drinking Ocean Spray? Sure, why not?
2020 Social Media Moments #6: Every Platform Released a Stories Feature
For most people, stories are now an integral part of the social media landscape: the easiest way to share and consume bitesize snippets of content on mobile.
In 2020, we saw stories roll out to every major social media platform, with Twitter Fleets, LinkedIn Stories, and Pinterest Story Pins all making their debut.
Stories are already the staple diet for Millennials and Gen Z users, and the shift in how people feel comfortable sharing and consuming content is hard to ignore.
“There’s an entire generation growing up with stories as a way of speaking,” explained LinkedIn’s Senior Director of Product Management, Pete Davies.
“They’re more comfortable starting conversations with a full-screen ephemeral format than posting updates,” he shared.
With this in mind, we can expect to see stories continue to grow in popularity and prominence across all platforms in 2021.
Did you know? You can plan and schedule your content in advance using Later’s Instagram Stories scheduler!
2020 Social Media Moments #7: Tiger King Broke the Internet
Hey all you cool cats and kittens!
No 2020 list would be complete without mention of one internet phenomenon: Tiger King.
The Netflix documentary had just about everyone talking online, generating over 1.8M organic interactions in 10 days on Twitter alone.
The show’s flamboyant characters and twisting plot line was the stuff of internet gold, a meme paradise for all to enjoy.
— Deana Harley (@Deanaharleynews) March 27, 2020
From Instagram AR filters to BuzzFeed “Which Character Are You?” quizzes, no corner of the internet was untouched by Tiger King fever.
Undoubtedly, the viral buzz about the show, paired with COVID-19 restrictions, contributed to its huge success.
— rocky NF (@TonganBeefcake) March 31, 2020
The takeaway? The power of meme culture is not to be underestimated, and neither is Carole Baskin.
2020 Social Media Moments #8: E-commerce Entered the Building
In case you missed it, 2020 was the year that social shopping went mainstream.
With COVID-19 forcing many businesses to temporarily close their doors, many platforms pushed out new ways to shop on social.
Instagram introduced a new Shop tab to the app’s Homepage, launched Instagram Live, IGTV Shopping, and shoppable Instagram Guides, as well as rolling out Instagram Checkout to all eligible businesses in the US.
And it doesn’t stop there.
According to Instagram’s Adam Mosseri, shopping on Instagram Reels could soon be a thing too — making almost every part of the app shoppable.
Now you can shop right on IGTV. 🛍 🎥 And later this year we’ll start testing shopping on Reels.
We want to keep making it easier to find products you love while supporting your favorite creators. pic.twitter.com/szutd49ZM2
— Adam Mosseri 😷 (@mosseri) October 5, 2020
TikTok Shopping has also gained real momentum this year, with a first-of-its-kind partnership with the e-commerce platform, Shopify.
Merchants who get access to the program will now be able to connect their TikTok for Business account with their Shopify account and sell products on TikTok via in-feed shoppable video ads.
Meanwhile, Pinterest also levelled-up its shopping features, introducing a new Shop tab for users to discover and shop in-stock products.
Did you know? You can plan, schedule and automatically publish to Pinterest with Later — for free!
2020 Social Media Moments #9: TikTok Gave Rise to New Wave of Entertainers
The greatest fallout from 2020’s TikTok frenzy has been the rise of the TikTok comedian.
@jeffrightnowQuibi getting shut down #fyp♬ original sound – Jeff Wright
From Jeff Right Now to Jordan Firstman, new and alternative talents have shot to global success through TikTok’s For You Page, and we are here for it.
@jtfirstman##fyp ##foryou ##foryoupage ##bananabread ##funny ##comedy ##tiktokcomedy♬ original sound – Tik Toker
Perhaps the best part of this? We’ve seen new comedic talent rising up from all over the world. Kenyan based comic Elsa Majimbo now has over 1.3M followers on Instagram and over 1.9M likes on TikTok.
@elsa.majimboWhen I’m required to participate in anything social♬ It’s a Pandemic – Elsa Majimbo
From pop culture parodies to spectacularly good Keira Knightly impressions, TikTok really delivered the goods in 2020.
2020 Social Media Moments #10: Rupert Grint Stole David Attenburgh’s Crown
All records are made to be broken, and this year saw a double-win for the Brits on Instagram.
He took the crown after hitting the 1M mark in just 4 hours and 1 minute, shaving 43 minutes off of Attenborough’s record. Quite magical, some may say.
In his first post, Grint introduced Wednesday, his new baby daughter, to the world.
He wrote: “Hey Instagram….only 10 years late, but here I am. Grint on the Gram! Here to introduce you all to Wednesday G. Grint. Stay safe, Rupert.”
And that’s it!
From viral TikTok trends to game-changing e-commerce features, 2020 has been a year unlike any other — and one that will likely change how we use social media for years to come.
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