Penned by David Blackett (Social Strategist), Gemma Glover (Influencer Strategist) and Will Sharples (Strategist).

Cambridge Analytica, GDPR and Facebook causing the downfall of modern democracy made for exciting times on social in 2018. Like in all years, lots of things died; so long Google +, farewell Logan Paul, it was nice knowing you naughty pictures on Tumblr. However out of darkness comes light. Here’s our breakdown of the most influential influencers, solid gold social campaigns… basically, things we liked on the internet in 2018.

“You can’t move online for influencers these days…”

You can’t move online for influencers these days, is both a statement an old person would make and is, indeed, absolutely true. We’ve had a good few years of influencers adding nuanced zest to campaigns and frustratingly we’ve reached the awkward teenage phase. Moments of brilliance like Flight HIV101 which aimed to switch the narrative around living with HIV from ‘life-support’ to ‘lifestyle’ are sadly undercut when Logan Paul creates disgusting content that leaves everyone who cares going ‘Why would you? What were you thinking? At what point was that a good idea? How did you get here in your life? I just can’t even…’

As influencer marketing becomes streamlined and (whispers) more professional, it is becoming easier to create strong and interesting work. Cybersmile Foundation partnered with fitness and lifestyle influencer Chessie King to demonstrate the damaging results of online trolling in a graphic way. The results were incredible: over 300,000 people viewed Chessie’s story on Instagram and thousands posting messages of support. Cybersmile saw a 70% increase in engagement on its Facebook page and received an influx of messages from people who had viewed the video.

Please, please remember that influencers need help and guidance to deliver the message you want. Get complacent or you’ll end up with sh*t like Scarlett London’s work with Johnson & Johnson. What should have been an innocent Instagram post, was absolutely savaged by The Internet for being badly executed and unauthentic.

For #LiveBig we worked with SWR and a team of lifestyle influencers. The influencers were challenged with travelling to a specific destination on the SWR line and discovering new and exciting things they hadn’t done before to inspire their followers to #Livebig with SWR! The influencers shared live content from their trip on Instagram stories, and share content on their YouTube channels and blog. SWR received over 60 pieces of social content and increased engagement by an incredible 20%.

How about over on the social channels these influencers have made into their playground?

Instagram has absolutely rocked 2018. They dragged and dropped all of Snapchat’s killer feature and rebranded them, Stories. This has transformed the platform from a place where teens could anonymously send messages to each other, into a voyeur’s dream. And we love it. We love love, absolutely love it. Instagram reached 1 billion monthly active users, with 500 million daily users an impressive feat when Facebook is lying stagnant and Snapchat is a slowly sinking ship. For advertisers, Stories is an exciting platform to make engaging #content. Instagram’s simple but effective decision to allow links in Stories in a way they hadn’t in the traditional feed has gone down well with users.  Over 20% are swiping up to follow a link and engage directly with brand’s websites. We’re expecting increased shopping capabilities in 2019 so it looks like brands, influencers and avid shoppers are going to feel like winners.We suppose it’s not hard to be a winner when the competition is, well, it’s Snapchat. When Kylie Jenner kicks off the year by essentially saying she no longer uses your platform (costing around $1.3 billion to Snapchat in the process), you know your year is going to be shite. It’s been a tough year for Snap.inc, who have struggled both with user numbers and returning the money investors have plunged into the youth-centric platform. Beyond angering fans by changing their once-intuitive layout, they also managed to joke about Chris Brown’s domestic assault of Rihanna, costing them an estimated $650 million. 2019 is going to be far from smooth.

“We predict Twitch will start to see its potential tapped.”

We’d be remiss; it would be absolutely ghastly if we didn’t look to the future. Travel forth with us as we divine the murky waters of the future. We predict Twitch will start to see its potential tapped. At the moment it’s fully embraced by the gaming community (and that weird cousin you’re going to fully commit to avoiding this Christmas) and all but ignored by advertisers. Twitch now receive around 1 million viewers at all times, with over three million unique broadcasters going live every month, and has the power to transform games like Fortnite, and the annoying dances, into a cultural moment. Then we have Tik Tok, the brash and noisy successor to Vine. It has 500 million global users and in September it overtook YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook in a ranking of U.S. downloads from Apple’s App Store and Google Play.

Before we go, we wanted to highlight Water Safety New Zealand – a collection of words you didn’t expect to read but we wanted to highlight their nifty campaign from the summer. Aimed especially at young guys, in a bid to keep swimmers safe. The team came up with the Swim Reaper, a character who relies on young men to overestimate their swimming abilities to claim his victims. The Swim Reaper’s Instagram page has amassed 211k followers, with shots mainly involving the Swim Reaper patrolling beaches or engaging in beach-like activity. Sadly, the Swim Reaper remains fully cloaked in this campaign, so we don’t know how much he’s packin’ in his banana hammock. The campaign ran across Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram, using close targeting to the core audience and novel creative executions. The engagement the campaign has received is hugely impressive for a government-led safety campaign around a topic few would otherwise want to engage with on social media.

And 2018 has given us so much more! Aldi presented the most immaculate Instagram account, Twitter account that rather bleakly gives a daily update on the number of people killed by handguns in America and some pets go to show off their true colours over at @RacistPets. 2019 – what a mystery, we can’t wait to find out what comes next, how much will Kylie Jenner be able to cost a social media platform in a single tweet? Who will take the 2018 crown from Trivia HQ for the biggest fad of the year? What on god’s green earth will come after Bowsette?