2018 round-up – our pick of the year’s top moments
From seismic changes in the world of tech to ridiculous stunts from big names in the news, here are the moments that summed up 2018.
- Facebook’s data reckoning
It has to be the top story of 2018 – the moment when Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg was held to account by the American establishment for his platform’s ethical failings. After the revelation that data analysis and political spin firm CambridgeAnalytica had misused Facebook user data Facebook was taken to task and Zuckerberg given a grilling by Congress. The whole debacle brought into sharp relief how much power and responsibility tech and social media firms now hold.
- The dawn of GDPR
GDPR rolled like a wave over the tech and marketing industries, spawning thousands of news stories, hurried updates and website consent popups (of varying quality). It couldn’t have been more timely, with Facebook’s user data practices implicated in swaying the results of the US election and Brexit votes. GDPR is Europe-only, but it’s been warmly received by global tech leaders including Apple CEO Tim Cook
- The Bitcoin and cryptocurrency collapse
At the end of 2017, the Bitcoin buzz was everywhere. But for those who eagerly jumped on the wagon, 2018 has been a bit of a let-down. The media furore around Bitcoin stories fizzled, reality crept in (where can you actually spend these currencies anyway?) and plunging exchange rates took opportunistic investors down with them. Of course, cryptocurrency is known for its volatility, so if you’re still HODLing for dear life, there could be a pleasant surprise before the year is out. Never say never!
- Theresa May’s disastrous dancing
Whatever your political persuasions, it was hard not to muster a little sympathy for the Prime Minister on her visit to South Africa this year, where she performed the world’s most awkward dance during a formal visit to a primary school. Although she owned her moment of embarrassment by reprising the dance at the Tory conference, 2018 had worse in store. Her gruelling negotiations with the EU struggled to achieve a Brexit agreement, leaving the nation’s fate hanging in the balance, and meanwhile, her reputation as a competent politician received a bashing, including from members of her own party.
- Elon Musk’s interplanetary shark-jump
The year hasn’t been entirely kind to Tesla founder and tech industry golden boy Elon Musk. In February, he fired a Tesla Roadster into space, raising questions about whether his ego had overtaken his credibility. Subsequently, the Model 3, heralded as the car that would bring the Tesla marque into budget for everyday motorists hit major manufacturing snags that put its launch on the back burner. Still, Musk’s SpaceX programme is on track with its plans to take tourists to Mars, despite its Texas base lying in the path of Donald Trump’s infamous wall
- Influencer marketing under the microscope
The world of influencer marketing had a reality check this year, with brands and regulators beginning to ask more questions about trust and integrity in the influencer process. Although marketing via influencers is still on the rise, big brands have begun to ask for stricter standards of quality. Unilever has pledged that it won’t work with influencers who buy followers, and won’t allow followers to be bought for any of its own brands. Meanwhile, the UK Advertising Standards Agency has released an Influencer’s Guide, in an effort to stop influencers from publishing paid-for content without a disclosure.
- Social media’s love affair with stories
The volume of stories shared on Snapchat, WhatsApp Instagram and Facebook has grown exponentially this year, and the platforms are adapting, making technical changes that frame stories as the go-to format for users. It’s a wake-up call for social media marketers who must now shift their M.O. away from mainstream feeds or risk being left behind. Story-based campaigns need to be focused on ephemeral, impactful moments, rather than repeated brand exposure and click-throughs. It’s a good thing we’re ready for the challenge…
As for us, it’s been a bumper year, with some fantastic clients and projects, a growing team, trips around the world and even one or two gongs for the treehouse mantlepiece. We were awarded Best Large Agency at the UK Social Media Communication Awards, and Small Content Marketing Team of the Year at the UK Content Awards.
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