Go-go boots, lava lamps, and miniskirts ruled the ‘60s. Neon colors, perms, and leg warmers defined the ‘80s. Grunge, Pokémon, and AOL were the talk of the ‘90s. Every decade has its iconic imagery—the things we remember in hindsight—but it’s always difficult to recognize what those things are while you’re experiencing it.

As we wrap up the 2010 decade, we can’t help but wonder, what will these years be remembered for? From pop culture to marketing trends, the 2010 decade was a decade of soaring highs and crushing lows for just about everyone.

In The Lights grew from a one-woman operation into a reputable arts public relations firm, all within the 2010 decade (we celebrated our 5th anniversary last year). We asked our team to identify some of the things that stood out to them from the last ten years. Here’s what we had to say:


Amber Henrie (CEO) —

2010 was when social media really blew up. Facebook started 2006 but the 2010 decade was defined by social media. Instagram launched exclusively on iOS in 2010 as a photo editing app, but quickly grew to be the most influential social platform of the decade.

Digital Marketing existed before the 2010’s but Google took it to a whole new level, making data king and using their technology to drive the majority of ads found on any public website. Facebook ads introduced an affordable advertising space for artists and small businesses.

The iPhone changed everything about the cell phone experience (1st generation launched in 2007, 2009 1st version with apps). The iPad launched in 2010. Dating apps took over the world. Uber and other ride share apps gained traction. Airbnb and other innovative apps began creating more power for the consumer to control the environment, experience, and how they make money.


Chelsea Anderson-Long (Account Manager) —

The 2010 decade has been the decade of “cutting the cable cord.”

While Netflix and Hulu launched in 2007, streaming services really took off in 2013 when House of Cards became first Netflix-produced show.

This was the first time that customers had to subscribe to a streaming service in order to get access to a must-see show. As streaming platforms increased their offerings, Cable TV subscription numbers declined.

Customers are accustomed, more than ever, to control their viewing experience.

Towards the end of the decade, in an effort to win back customers, cable stations have begun to pull access to their content from Netflix and Hulu, and introduce their own subscription streaming platforms, such as the recently launched Disney+.

As we move away from one-size-fits-all television programming, we hope that smaller and riskier live-performance programming will also find its audience.


Katie Gallagher (Account Manager) —

80’s retro was big towards the end of decade. Television progressed from sitcoms and male focused dramas like Mad Men, to more female power dominated shows like Madam Secretary, Younger, How to Get Away with Murder, Scandal, etc.

Hashtags, viral social media challenges, same sex marriage, the “Me Too” movement, 2 Royal weddings, and the rise of personal digital assistants (Siri in 2011, Alexa in 2014) changed the way we look at the world and interact with the people around us.

Not to mention viral challenges like the Harlem Shake, Planking, ALS Ice Bucket, Mannequin challenge, In my feelings challenge, and Tide Pods.


Kristin Hess (Digital Marketing & Creative Specialist) —

The 2010 decade has turned anyone and everyone into an entrepreneur.

Whether it’s selling your homemade wedding crafts on Etsy or Pinterest, representing a tea or gummy vitamin brands on Instagram as a micro-influencer (#ad) or creating at-home videos and selling ad space on YouTube, anyone can have a side-hustle OR full time job all on their own.

Money-making platforms include Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, TikTok, Youtube, Etsy, Pinterest, Poshmark, and the list goes on. Who rules these platforms? Millennials. Millennials rule the market. Big data helps these millennials make their 6 figure salaries by showing analytics to the brands sponsoring the posts.

Influencer Marketing has dominated the internet this decade and continues to grow. Users now turn to their favorite Instagram Blogger for sweater recommendations rather than looking at a catalog.


Katherine Lum (Operations and Finance Manager) —

In the 2010 decade we saw major advances in how we pay for services (Bitcoin, Venmo, Apple Pay, etc). Co-working spaces like WeWork also saw tremendous growth and support. The social enterprise and how we use human capital was also a major factor of the 2010 decade.


Jordan Henrie (Social Strategist) —

During college I launched Ennui Magazineto highlight local music and art and also spent a lot of time writing about changes in the industry. Over the past decade the music industry has been revolutionized and revived with the increase of digital sharing services like LimeWire and the ability to download audio files directly off of YouTube. The popularization of streaming services like Spotify and the return of physical album sales (vinyl revival) have revitalized the industry, transforming the way charting systems like Billboard track and rank new releases.

Also, the way music is made and marketed changed dramatically. With ground-breaking programs like Apple’s Logic Pro and Avid’s Pro Tools, digital audio workstations made it possible for anyone to forgo expensive, complicated recording contracts, and simply write, record, and release music on their own, with just their laptop or tablet.

Platforms like Bandcamp and Soundcloud made it easy for unknown artists to catapult themselves to stardom, completely independent of major label support (ie. Post Malone, Chance The Rapper, etc).

The 2010 decade also obliterated any pre-existing genre lines or walls. Good luck trying to classify what genre Post Malone’s latest album is. Hit songs like Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road” cross back and forth between country, pop, hip hop and rock so seamlessly, it appeals to fans of each genre.

The way we make, market, sell, and listen to music didn’t just change in the 2010 decade, it threw every rule out the window.

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