2012: The Year on Twitter

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Boris Johnson dancing at the Olympic closing ceremony created the largest spike in UK Twitter conversation this year, closely followed by England losing on penalties in Euro 2012.

The results have been revealed as part of our annual ‘Year on Twitter’ review, a roundup of what’s been happening throughout the year.

We’ve gathered influential moments and popular Tweets from around the world and collated them into a dedicated website 2012.twitter.com. Over on that site you’ll see that Barack Obama’s (@BarackObama) ‘Four more years’ Tweet, which he sent to declare victory in the US presidential election, was the most retweeted message ever:

A UK Perspective
As well as revealing some of the world’s biggest Tweets and trends, we have released exclusive UK data and information that gives a fascinating glimpse into what Brits have been talking about during 2012.

In a year that has seen the Diamond Jubilee, Euro 2012, the Olympic and Paralympic Games all take place, read on to discover what captured the attention of the more than 10 million active UK users on Twitter. The four categories we looked at in the UK this year were:

  1. Highest spikes in Twitter conversation
  2. Only on Twitter moments
  3. Top trends that captured the nation’s attention
  4. New voices that joined the platform

For the global information, visit our official Year on Twitter site: 2012.twitter.com and check out our international blog post.

Highest Spikes in Twitter Conversation
It’s no surprise that in what’s been dubbed a year of sport in the UK, seven out of the top 10 highest spikes in Twitter conversation this year are related to sport. In addition to the many Olympic and footballing moments, the list shows that Twitter and TV are inextricably linked, with three of the top spots going to the one of the nation’s most-watched TV shows - the X Factor. Here is the top 10 list, based on data about the number of UK Tweets sent per second:

  1. Olympics: David Cameron, Samantha Cameron and Boris Johnson dancing together at the Olympic closing ceremony (Sunday, August 12)
  2. Euro 2012: England vs Italy, England lose on penalties (Sunday, June 24)
  3. X Factor: James Arthur and Ella Henderson in bottom two, Ella voted off (Sunday, November 18)
  4. Olympics: Bolt wins the Men’s 100 Metres Olympic final (Sunday August 5)
  5. Olympics: Mr Bean’s Chariots of Fire sketch in the Opening Ceremony (Friday, July 27)
  6. X Factor: Rylan and Kye deadlock (Sunday, November 4)
  7. Euro 2012: England vs Sweden, Theo Walcott’s goal to bring England level at 2-2
  8. X Factor: Gary Barlow storms off X Factor as Carolynne Poole was voted off in favour of Rylan (Sunday October 7)
  9. Euro 2012: England vs France, Joleon Lescott’s goal put England up 1-0 (Monday June 11)
  10. Champions League: Man City vs Real Madrid, Cristiano Ronaldo’s goal put Real 3-2 ahead, ultimately resulting in a victory (Tuesday September 18)

Only on Twitter
Across a variety of sectors, Twitter is being used by people in innovative and exciting ways to push the boundaries of what can be done in 140 characters and create a global town square for sharing information. These are 10 UK examples of moments that only happened on Twitter and show how the platform truly brings people closer to the things they care about.

In July of this year, British band Blur were filmed performing their new singles ‘Under The Westway’ and ‘The Puritan’ in a secret UK location, with the performance live-streamed on Twitter. In between playing the two new songs, the band hosted a live Twitter Q&A session with fans.

TV: In May of this year, Will.i.am Tweeted during live TV on BBC’s The Voice, giving a new digital dimension to the TV show.

Faith: The hotly anticipated news of who would be the new Archbishop of Canterbury was subject to media speculation for weeks, and was finally announced on Twitter by the Prime Minister’s office (@Number10gov):

Politics: With rumours abounding, the Cabinet broke news of the #reshuffle live on on Twitter in September of this year. The day began as Baroness Warsi (@SayeedaWarsi) confirmed her departure from the role of Conservative party co-chairman in a tweet from the official @ToryChairman account:

The Prime Minister’s office (@Number10gov) continued to break the news of new appointments on Twitter over the course of the day, leading the media to dub the day ‘The Twitter #Reshuffle’:

Literature: On the day of the Skyfall premiere in October, author and comedian Charlie Higson (@Monstroso) translated the original 12 Bond novels into 140 character Tweets.

Literature: British author Lucy Coats (@lucycoats) kicked off the international Twitter Fiction Festival in November with her version of creation - a Greek myth rewritten into 140 characters.

Sport: In May, footballer Eden Hazard (@HazardEden10) revealed that he was joining Chelsea exclusively via Twitter. It was one of the most hotly anticipated transfers of the season and fans following him on the platform were the first to know.

Sport: Twitter saw more than 700,000 #PrayforMuamba messages in support of footballer Fabrice Muamba (@FMuamba) when he suffered a heart attack on the pitch in March of this year:

Sport: After his Olympic success, Usain Bolt (@usainbolt) said he wanted a trial at Manchester United… And Rio Ferdinand (@RioFerdy5) stepped in to help, only on Twitter.

Sport: This year we saw numerous Premier League management changes announced first on Twitter, direct to the fans. In November, Chelsea fired manager Roberto di Matteo and hired Rafael Benitez, breaking the news live on Twitter:

Only two days later, QPR fired manager Mark Hughes, and hired Harry Redknapp, and once again Twitter was the place to go to get the news first:

Top Trends

Which topics captured our attention this year? Trends reflect the hottest emerging topics, rather than what has been consistently popular over time. Here are lists of the most frequently trending topics in the UK across a variety of popular sectors:

Sport: In a year of sport in the UK, it was the Paralympics that topped the table for the most trending UK sports event, with football taking up seven of the top 10 spots:

  1. #Paralympics
  2. #LFC
  3. #MUFC
  4. Olympics
  5. Liverpool
  6. Arsenal
  7. #WWE
  8. Leeds
  9. #COYS
  10. #AFC

Politics: David Cameron (@David_Cameron) joined Twitter in October, so it’s perhaps no surprise that he tops the poll of Twitter UK political trends. There were also two appearances for Romney as the American presidential race gripped nations both sides of the Atlantic. There were also two top 10 spots for London Mayor Boris Johnson, who oversaw London 2012 efforts:

  1. David Cameron
  2. Tory
  3. Tories
  4. Labour
  5. Ed Miliband
  6. Boris Johnson
  7. Mitt Romney
  8. Boris
  9. Romney
  10. Nick Clegg

Issues: The range of topics in this category reflects the diversity of stories that hit the headlines in the UK this year. From the pasty tax VAT scandal to the Leveson Inquiry, Twitter was the place where people followed, and joined the conversation around breaking news:

  1. NHS
  2. Syria
  3. #Assange
  4. Prince Harry
  5. Samantha Brick
  6. #NHS
  7. Afghanistan
  8. VAT
  9. Leveson
  10. Rebekah Brooks

Movies: Two spots in the top 10 UK movie trends this year go to a British institution: Bond. Skyfall was a hit on Twitter as well as at the box office. The boy wizard Harry Potter also made an appearance, sharing the top ten with other hits like the classic Star Wars and cult favourite Dark Shadows:

  1. The Hunger Games
  2. James Bond
  3. #Skyfall
  4. Star Wars
  5. The Avengers
  6. The Dark Knight Rises
  7. Prometheus
  8. Dark Shadows
  9. The Artist
  10. Harry Potter

Music artists: A surprise first place in this year’s music trends went to Rick Ross. The US star may not be as well known on this side of the pond as UK acts like Jessie J and JLS, but he’s certainly found a dedicated follower base on Twitter:

  1. Rick Ross
  2. Nicki Minaj
  3. Taylor Swift
  4. Lana Del Rey
  5. JLS
  6. Chris Brown
  7. Rita Ora
  8. Madonna
  9. Lil Wayne
  10. Jessie J

TV Programmes:  Whilst UK shows like “Downton Abbey” (#DowntonAbbey) and the “Great British Bakeoff” (#GBBO) have become beloved on Twitter, they didn’t break through into this year’s top ten. From Jeremy Kyle and Newsnight to long-running soap operas like #EastEnders and #Hollyoaks, it’s the shows in our living rooms day-in and day-out that dominate the list.

  1. Jeremy Kyle
  2. Game of Thrones
  3. American Dad
  4. #EastEnders
  5. Family Guy
  6. Russell Howard
  7. #JeremyKyle
  8. #Hollyoaks
  9. #Newsnight
  10. #CBB

Culture: From general trends like #photography, #music and #travel to big cultural events like the Edinburgh Fringe Festival (#EdFringe), Twitter was where people came to share what they were passionate about in real life.

  1. #Photography
  2. #Music
  3. #Travel
  4. #EdFringe
  5. #Fashion
  6. #Art
  7. #LFW
  8. 2012 mtv video music awards
  9. V Festival
  10. #design

Londoners: David Cameron fills another number one spot on this year’s list of top trending Londoners. Sport figures and politicians were well represented, with singer Jessie J being the only woman ranked in the top 10.

  1. David Cameron
  2. Jeremy Kyle
  3. Ed Miliband
  4. Boris Johnson
  5. John Terry
  6. Prince Harry
  7. David Beckham
  8. George Osborne
  9. Jessie J
  10. Harry Redknapp

Conversation starters: Twitter brings you closer to the things you care about and hashtags let you share these passions with others. This year, Twitter users came together around topics like music (#Nowplaying), current affairs (#News) and words of wisdom (#Yolo, for ‘You only live once’):

  1. #nowplaying
  2. #news
  3. #quote
  4. #music
  5. #JustSaying
  6. #FollowFriday
  7. #Yolo
  8. #Insomnia
  9. #Fail
  10. #Excited

New Voices:

Prime Minister David Cameron (@David_Cameron) joined Twitter at the Conservative Party conference in October 2012, becoming one of the 48 new MPs on the platform this year, bringing the total to 414 (63%) of UK MPs that use the platform. You can find the full list here. He uses the platform to share both political and personal updates with his followers, such as this shot of him celebrating his birthday with colleagues:

In this year’s list of new UK voices on Twitter, Cameron joins an eclectic list of names from the worlds of sport, music, politics and entertainment - including girl band Girls Aloud (@GirlsAloud), film star and campaigner Hugh Grant (@HackedOffHugh) and TV presenter Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker).

Here are some of the new voices who are now part of Twitter’s 10 million active users in the UK:





The Twitter Year

Twitter brings people closer to the things they care about and gives people all over the world a platform to share their unique perspectives. With more than 400 million Tweets on the platform every day, Twitter is becoming a global town square.

The conversation may be about high profile global events - like the Olympics or a presidential election - or topics that people feel passionately about - like music, literature or faith. From Girls Aloud to the new Archbishop, James Bond to JLS, Tweets from the UK’s 10 million Twitter users paint an exciting picture of this year in Britain.