The landscape of social media across 2014 has been one full of new players on the scene, huge acquisitions, and the rise of social commerce, along with social media taking its first steps into space. There’s been a surge of updates from the likes of Instagram and its new filters, to an evolution of the way we interact with our favourite apps and sites with Facebook acquiring WhatsApp, while global events and viral campaigns continued to flood our feeds.

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So, let us take a look back through the hottest trending topics of the year and recap the most notable changes to our favourite platforms and networks.

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Game On

At the beginning of the year, the highly addictive mobile game Flappy Bird had smartphone and tablet users glued to their screens. The simple but challenging game fast became one of the most downloaded apps in both Google Play and Apple’s App Store, causing high volumes of chatter online about its popularity. However, this was soon to be brought to an end when the game developer Dong Nguyen took Flappy Bird down from the app stores due to its addictive nature.

Football Fever

This summer the world was alight with chatter about the beautiful game’s most important competition: the 2014 FIFA World Cup. The final match alone broke the record for the number of interactions generated by a single event, with 88 million people creating more than 280 million interactions on Facebook. From reactive tweets about Luis Suarez getting his teeth into an opponent against Italy to Brazil’s disastrous 7–1 loss against the German team, the tournament in Brazil provided a wealth of social media content.

An Ice Cold Viral Sensation

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge found its way onto many a Facebook page with videos of people throwing ice water over themselves and then challenging others to do it or donate to the cause (or both). Millions of videos were created and over 90 million searches for ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’ were made in August, encouraging people to participate and donate money to organisations working to provide treatment and find a cure for the debilitating neurodegenerative disorder.

‘ello, Ello

New kid on the block Ello caused waves amongst social networks this year by offering an alternative place for people to talk, share and catch up with friends online. Produced by a group of designers whose sole mission was to create a site free from advertisements, Ello is a distinctly different social media experience. During the peak of its initial rush of excitement, the site received more than 30,000 sign up requests per hour.

Happy Birthday, Facebook!

Facebook announced that its monthly active users reached 1.35 billion this September, showing that the popularity of the ten-year-old site has not wavered. Additionally, this year the network acquired WhatsApp, furthering its stronghold in the mobile messaging arena.

Intergalactic Tweets

The clever social media team at the European Space Agency caused an interstellar response on social media by creating two bantering Twitter accounts for the Rosetta spacecraft and the Philae probe, bringing a human perspective to the epic mission of landing on a comet. Encouraging each other and celebrating their incredible achievement, the Rosetta mothership and Philae probe beamed images from outer space back to Earth and brought personality to the live Twitter feed detailing the mission while the world watched on in astonishment.

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Selfie Superstar

In November, Kim Kardashian’s front cover for the indie magazine Paper set out to #BreakTheInternet. With 26.7 million followers on Twitter and 22.5 million followers on Instagram, Kardashian certainly did cause a stir with the nude photo shoot. And while the front cover may not have quite broken the internet, it certainly did cause a viral sensation, especially when Kanye West tweeted the magazine front cover inspiring over 70,000 retweets in a couple of hours alone.

#300MillionUsers

The photo-sharing app Instagram overtook Twitter in the popularity stakes by topping 300 million monthly active users. The four-year-old app also released five new filters this year and began integrating advertisements within British users’ feeds, in what was one of its first money-making ventures.

While 2014 might be winding down, there’s no denying that it provided us with plenty to talk about online, as well as a few new additional features to our favourite social networks such as Facebook’s video view count or Twitter’s collaboration with Amazon, making buying online even easier. If this year’s anything to go by, 2015 looks set to be filled with even more game-changing innovations!