As 2014 comes to a close, we might be surprised to remember everything that’s happened since January, especially when it comes to social media. In a digital space where the #trending board changes every day, it can be hard to recall those especially impactful events that gained momentum through social media platforms. To help jog your memory, here are five phenomena from 2014 that we shouldn’t forget.
#SochiProblems and the 2014 Winter Olympics fiasco
What happens when a city can’t boast great living conditions for its own citizens, let alone build itself up enough to support the Winter Olympics? Worldwide ridicule, disgust and #SochiProblems happen. The 2014 Winter Olympics were held in Sochi, Russia, a city that simply wasn’t prepared to handle the burden of hosting, housing and entertaining the hordes of athletes, correspondents and spectators that arrived to watch the games.
Within three days of its launch, the Twitter account @SochiProblems boasted more followers than the official @Sochi2014 account. From technical issues at the opening ceremony to bad bathroom planning, @SochiProblems poked rigorous fun at the humiliating mistakes in Sochi. While most #SochiProblems were due to unfinished construction, there were also issues like lost luggage, dangerous courses and unsanitary food and water. Athletes and journalists alike had a field day with #SochiProblems.
For a hot minute, it seemed that #SochiProblems would shine a light on the civil rights concerns in Sochi and other parts of Russia, but the Internet community was too focused on laughing at toilets to take a closer look at the underlying Russian culture.
The @SochiProblems account has since been modified, but #SochiProblems lingers, reappearing when preparation is horribly lacking and mass chaos ensues. We can only hope that a slew of #RioProblems don’t crop up in 2016!
Ellen’s Oscar selfie that broke Twitter – and the retweet record!
Kim Kardashian set out to “break the internet” in November, but way back in March it was Ellen DeGeneres that managed to shut down Twitter after posting a celebrity-filled selfie on her Twitter account during the Oscars ceremony. In the most retweeted tweet in the history of Twitter, DeGeneres poses with fellow stars like Jennifer Lawrence, Lupita Nyong’o and Brad Pitt while Bradley Cooper takes the photo.
The crowded frame of actresses and actors gathered around DeGeneres quickly became an iconic and incredible piece of social media history, earning well over three million retweets since it was posted in March. The greatest part of the event was the world’s ability to watch the phenomenon happen in real time on the television and immediately experience the Twitter platform crash on their devices. All hail the Oscar selfie!
The FIFA World Cup 2014 and global conversation
In June and July, the 2014 FIFA World Cup overtook the globe in a dazzling display of digital marketing power. Through social platforms like Twitter and Facebook, the tournament reached an incredible number of people, with billions of posts and millions of interactions, passing up the 2014 Super Bowl and Olympic Games on social media venues in the United States. Partly due to digital marketing tactics and features like Twitter’s “hash flags,” the World Cup exploded through viewer participation as they “joined in” the conversation, just as FIFA asked them to do. The social media sphere made the world a little smaller, connecting nations and fans through hashtags, pages and memes (like those about Luis Suarez’s biting problem or Tim Howard’s goalkeeping prowess).
TAG reinforced its social media strategies with some of the things learned from the engagement during the World Cup. Check out the investigation in a previous blog!
#ALSIceBucketChallenge and viral charity
In a frenzied storm of charity, the ALS Ice bucket challenge took over social media in the summer of 2014. The “ice bucket challenge” itself was not originally linked with ALS, being a method of fundraising in which a few people were challenged to either pour a bucket of ice water over their head or donate money to a charity of their choice.
However, a non-profit baseball tournament raising money for ALS patient Anthony Senerchia Jr. reaped the benefits when #StrikeOutALS was used in conjunction with the challenge, and the challenge became fatefully linked with the fight against ALS. Through concentric social networks, the challenge reached former professional baseball player Pete Frates—and then it really took off!
With incredible momentum, the #ALSIceBucketChallenge plastered itself across all social media channels, gaining celebrity and even political attention (before it was pointed out that politicians are forbidden from “endorsing” that kind of campaign), and the ALS Association saw a huge leap in donations. In the first month of the challenge, the ALS Association saw nearly ten times the amount of money donated during the same time frame in 2013!
The campaign might have continued if the weather hadn’t become too cold—or if there was anyone left to nominate!
Robin Williams and depression awareness
On August 11, 2014, actor and comedian Robin Williams was found dead in his home at 63 years of age, and his death was ruled a suicide. The beloved comedian struggled with severe depression, a stigmatized illness that took center stage as the details of Williams’ death were released.
From favorite Robin Williams quotes, to well wishes for Williams’ family, to support for those struggling with depression and thoughts of suicide, social media buzzed with the shock of loss. In the midst of the grief, hope shone in the form of depression awareness. Many spoke out against the stigmatization of depression and suicide, calling out media personalities who deemed Williams a coward for his actions, sharing support for people struggling with their own or a loved one’s illness and posting advice for suicide prevention.
It can be difficult to predict what the social media community will latch on to next, but one thing is for certain—events and ideas can spread like wildfire through these channels. What trends are you expecting to see on social media in 2015?