The Social Media Trends of 2014

As a general rule at WGSN, we like to look towards the future, but with 2014 nearing its end, you’ll perhaps forgive us a peak over our collective shoulders at some of the trends that went viral during the past 12 months. (And there’s not a cat in sight.)

Count the numbers: 300 million users and counting. 70 million videos and pictures shared every day. If one social media site claimed more than its fair share of column inches this year, it was Instagram. With no one under age 15 interested in Facebook anymore (their grandparents joined. Enough said.), and Instagram having surpassed Twitter in its user base, the future looks rosy for the photo-sharing platform. Mind you, don’t mention this to Twitter co-founder Evan Williams. His response to being overtaken by Instagram? “I don’t give a sh*t.”

On Ice
Much heralded, oft since copied, but not yet surpassed, summer 2014 belonged to the #IceBucketChallenge. Bar? Obama, it seemed there were few in the public eye who didn’t take up the challenge of having a bucket of freezing cold water with ice cubes deposited on their head. In one month, the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Association in the US, who benefited most from the stunt, raised more than $98 million, while British counterpart, the Motor Neurone Disease Association captured £2.7 million during one week in August. Pre- #IceBucketChallenge, a typical week saw only £200,000 donated.

Feminism isn’t a trend, it’s common sense. And a hell of a lot of that common sense was distributed via social media sites this year. Sheryl attempted to #banbossy; the Twitter trolls who made Caroline Criado-Perez’s life such a nightmare in 2013 finally got their comeuppance; Time magazine was forced to apologise for suggesting the word feminism be banned; #LikeAGirl went viral; Emma Watson launched #HeForShe; and that was just the tip of an impressively reactive and articulate iceberg.

Clean Living
Rock and roll it’s not, but the health conscious found new inspiration this year, thanks to a fat-free glut of social media stars. A trend not just confined to social media, but discovered within it and now its young inventors are making their mark in mainstream media. Witness the likes of Ella Woodward of Deliciously Ella fame, Natasha Corrett of Honestly Healthy and Rachel Brathen of Yoga Girl, with their millions of followers, book deals, modelling deals, supper clubs and all manner of other lucrative associations to boot.

Deliciously Ella

Deliciously Ella

Green Juice
LA gym bunnies might have been drinking their greens for years, but the rest of the globe finally joined the kale-infused clan this year. (And if they didn’t join it wholeheartedly, certainly dipped a toe in the water.) Ideally snapped for Instagram in a photogenic Kilner jar or sprinkled with rose petals, the green juice purists decried any recipes posted with too much fruit and the rest of us spent way too much on over-priced juicers, before hiding them in the back of the kitchen cupboard and going back to drinking Diet Coke.

Carla Buzasi Instagram

It’s hard to write about 2014 without mentioning the YouTube star that is Zoella. Up until this year, unless you were under the age of 16 (or the mother of someone under 16), the name would have drawn a blank face. This year, Zoella – or Zoe Sugg to give her her full name – went mainstream, and then some. An extensive feature in British Vogue was followed swiftly by the publication and then record-breaking sales of her debut novel, Girl Online. Even without the controversy that followed (she didn’t write it all herself; people got cross; Twitter went into meltdown; read more of the gory details here), there’s no denying the power the X-born Vlogger welded this year.

– Carla Buzasi, Global Chief Content Officer, WGSN

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