2020 will undoubtedly go down in history as one of the most memorable years, with countless huge moments and milestones taking place across the world - all in the midst of a global pandemic. Entertainment evolved, communities grew stronger and widespread support was demonstrated, much of which was shared on social media. This year, more than ever, people have utilised Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and many other platforms to stay in touch with friends and family and keep up to date with all of the key events taking place. The world of digital networking has changed drastically, and some of those changes might be here to stay as we move forward into 2021. We're reviewing some of the top aspects!
It wouldn't be a 2020 recap without mentioning, of course, COVID-19. Lockdowns and quarantines meant that everyone had to stay at home and find new ways to connect and communicate, with the amount of time spent in group video calls doubling globally in March, according to Facebook's review infographic.
Similarly, as stated in Twitter's 2020 overview, #COVID19 and #StayHome were in the top 3 hashtags of the year, the former being tweeted nearly 400 million times.
Plus, over on Instagram, its ‘Stay Home’ sticker was used over 100 million times globally in the first week it launched, as reported in the aforementioned infographic, showing just how keen users were to share their experiences with each other and feel a little less alone in unsettling initial stages of the pandemic.
Brands and businesses used social media during this time too, to provide important updates to their customers and visitors. Restaurants, pubs and hotels posted information about closures, takeaways, distancing guidelines and reopenings, while shops and e-commerce stores used their pages to share delivery details and stock notifications. Despite some inevitable impatience and frustration at times, online communities were generally supportive and understanding towards their favourite brands and showed positive spirit.
TikTok, the short form video creation app formerly known as Musical.ly, truly took the world by storm this year, being downloaded nearly 115 million times in March - 745,000 of which were here in the UK.
Although predominantly used by members of Gen Z to portray choreographed dances, mini comedy sketches and obscure memes, a handful of brands, particularly those in the US where the app is hugely popular, also jumped on TikTok to make use of it as a marketing tool. Due to the platform being fairly humorous and lighthearted, businesses shared behind-the-scenes content and joined in with relatable trends rather than pushing solely for sales, using it instead as a place to build community, boost brand love and appeal to a younger audience.
2020 has also been a year of social and political upheaval, in which social media has undeniably played a huge role. In the three weeks following George Floyd’s death, conversations around Black Lives Matter tripled on Facebook, with an average of 7.5 million mentions every day. #BlackLivesMatter was also the second most tweeted hashtag of the year on Twitter, where the world came together online to amplify the need for equality and justice for people of colour.
The massively impactful US election was also unavoidable across all forms of social media, with Donald Trump, Joe Biden, Barack Obama and Kamala Harris being amongst the most tweeted about global figures and Kamala Harris' Vice Presidential selection announcement being the most mentioned moment in August on Facebook.
Additionally, more than 1.3 million people globally contributed to Facebook's largest ever fundraiser, which was set up to raise money to help those affected by the Australian wildfires. More than $25 million was raised through this scheme.
To keep people entertained and help them feel a sense of community during the isolation of the pandemic, individuals and businesses both took to Instagram and Facebook Live, prompting large comebacks for these features this year when compared with their prior usage. In April, both sites saw a 40% increase in the popularity of their live streaming tools, with views doubling in one week. Italy's famous lockdown balcony parties and DJ sets were most notably broadcast to the masses.
Fitness brands shared live workout routines to get people active at home, cooks and bakers showed viewers how to make recipes in real-time, and gamers were able to watch their favourite online stars play and promote the latest releases.
Social media platforms also revolutionised the world of online shopping this year, adding and improving features which let customers purchase goods directly from their favourite businesses’ pages and posts.
Instagram Checkout, for example, enables users to buy a product which takes their fancy from a brand’s photo by simply tapping on it and adding it to their cart. The shopping tab is even now an icon on the app’s main menu at the bottom of the screen, indicating just how big its e-commerce emphasis has become.
Consumers can also shop on Facebook, thanks to its increasingly popular Shopify integration feature for businesses. Like on Instagram, companies can now tag their products in posts and photos, allowing customers to click through to each item’s full description and price information, and make a purchase right there.