In many ways, it was the year of famous babies. The birth of Princess Charlotte kicked it off when mothers from all over the world shared their disbelief on social media after the Duchess of Cambridge, Catherine Middleton, emerged from the hospital looking immaculate just few hours after giving birth. Many used the #RoyalBaby to congratulate and praise the Duchess. Now, not even a year old, the little princess has her own hashtag – #PrincessCharlotte.
The other famous baby of the year was social media pioneer, Mark Zuckerberg, and Priscilla Chan’s daughter Max. Needless to say, the announcement was made on the social networking site with over a billion users liking the post. The birth of a baby girl inspired Mark and Priscilla to donate 99 percent of their shares, currently valued at USD 45 billion, to improve the world for the next generation. The initiative, ‘Chan Zuckerberg Initiative’, is considered a significant step from the Facebook owner that was well appreciated all around the globe.
Another key highlight of the year has to be the US Presidential Election Campaign that kept onliners world over engaged with its use of social media sites. Although it was no surprise that networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter would play a significant role in the campaigns, it was interesting to see the use of Snapchat and Instagram for advertising. These campaigns have already invested a huge amount on social media but it is said that, as the elections nears, the spending is going to further increase. Also, Facebook has been a co-sponsor for the Republican Party debates held by FOX and CNN this year.
Social media has rightly been called the game changer for the 2016 US Presidential Elections.
One of the major crises discussed in the election campaigns is that of the acceptance of refugees in the United States. While republicans and democrats have their own stands, an American blogger platform, Humans of New York (HONY), started a segment ‘The Syrian Americans’. All the stories told were overwhelming, but one story on which even President Obama could not resist to comment was that of ‘The Scientist’. The story went viral and NBC flew over to Turkey especially to accompany him to USA. Also, Hollywood actor Edward Norton helped raise USD 450,000 for this cause. Another story from the same segment that is trending now is the petition ‘Bring Aya to America’. Over one million people have signed this petition and now the best lawyers in the country are working to make this happen.
The year had its share of unhappy news as well. In fact, 2015 had begun with the Charlie Hebdo shooting. On January 7 2015, two gunmen forced their way into the offices of the French satirical weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris and killed 12 people and left several injured. Soon after the attack, thousands of people around the world expressed their solidarity with the magazine using the #JeSuisCharlie, French for ‘I am Charlie’. While most people used the hashtag to show their support for free speech, others emphasised on the role of responsibility in free speech, thereby sharing bold front pages that the magazine has printed over the past years. Even as the year nears it end, the argument continues.
The Paris tragedy continued in the year with the Paris attack that took place in November. Parisians started posting #Porteouverte, French for ‘open door’, to offer overnight shelter to strangers who were stranded due to the attacks. A modified version of the International Peace Symbol, in which the center fork was modified to resemble the Eiffel Tower, was also widespread. The symbol was used along with #PeaceForParis, #PrayForParis, #PrayForFrance, #JeSuisParis. Facebook introduced its safety check-in system so as to allow users in Paris to notify friends and family about their safety. Another trend spotted on Facebook was a transparent image of the French flag to show its support for the people of Paris.
The global developments led to their share of conversations on the Middle East and North Africa region as well increasingly establishing the global village that the world has become in the age of social media. There is no denying that social media has impacted consumer’s lives in more ways than they realize in 2015. And the trend will only continue in the year ahead.