Twitter Trends and Tragedies of 2012

Everyone can harness the amazing capabilities of social media sites like Twitter to strengthen a business. Let’s look at the top Twitter trends from last year.  And… Just when you thought you were done reading 2012 re-caps, here we are with another!

Lauren Leto, the creator of the website Texts From Last Night, once said, “Twitter provides us with a wonderful platform to discuss/confront societal problems. We trend Justin Bieber instead.” It’s funny – unavoidably, spirit-crushingly true, but funny nonetheless. The truth is that mass communication tools have always been very powerful. Yet they have probably always been wasted on spreading trivial news and gossip. The telephone changed the world, connecting people across vast distances … so they could exchange recipes or gossip about extramarital affairs. If you look back at human history, you likely can find that letters delivered by horseback, hieroglyphics, and maybe cave paintings have been misused by someone to tell someone else something that was unimportant.

Social media “is what it is,” as my father liked to say (about pretty much anything). It’s up to each one of us – and yes, that includes you – to harness its amazing capabilities into something useful. Socialty can help you make the most out of Twitter, and many other social media services. We help clients leverage social media into something that works for you and works to strengthen your business.

Let’s take a look at the top Twitter trends from last year.

Among the famous people who started their own Twitter accounts in 2012 are soccer legend Pele (@pele), rock icon Neil Young (@neilyoung) and Pope Benedict XVI (@pontifex). According to ABC News, on December 10th the Pope had 608 thousand followers, and that was before his account’s first tweet. One month later, 1.4 million and counting.

Twitter has 140 million active users, and 1 billion tweets are sent about every 60 hours.

The most retweeted message of 2012 was from Barack Obama, who sent “Four more years.” and a picture of his wife hugging him. This low-key celebration of his re-election as President of the United States was retweeted over 800 thousand times and favorited by 300 thousand users. A distant second was pop singer Justin Bieber’s heartfelt message “RIP Avalanna. i love you” when a 6-year-old fan he had befriended died of brain cancer. The message had 224 thousand retweets.

ABC News listed several “Conversations of the Year,” topics that drove messaging through the roof in 2012. These include the aforementioned U.S. national elections, the Summer Olympics in London, and the February 11th death of singer Whitney Houston.

Other important moments for the Twitter service in 2012 involved the boundaries of human life on our planet, and the exploration of another. Felix Baumgartner’s record-breaking skydive from the edge of space was one of Twitter’s “Conversations of the Year,” according to ABC News. Other notable tweets that were viewed by millions included live images of Hurricane Sandy – tweeted to Earth from astronauts aboard the International Space Station, live updates of the NASA mission to Mars as Jet Propulsion Laboratory tweeted from the shuttle’s command center as the Curiosity rover touched down on the Red Planet, and a tweet by film director and part-time adventurer James Cameron – sent from over 35 thousand feet under the ocean during a dive to bottom of the Mariana Trench.

Another cool look back at the top trends on Twitter in 2012 was published by the blog at HootSuite. (HootSuite is a Canadian social media management system that helps users to manage multiple social media accounts.)

HootSuite pointed out that 2012 on Twitter was all about passion, patriotism and battles, with the Summer Olympics and the U.S. elections as its two main examples. I think we all read some heated and grouchy if not downright mean messages. According to HootSuite, election Tweets peaked at over 320 thousand per minute, as the blogger asks us “Should the traditional saying, ‘no politics at the dinner table’ apply to Twitter as well?”

But HootSuite also noted that events like Hurricane Sandy, in which people are afraid or even helpless in the face of disaster or tragedy, show that Twitter and other social media can be a source of support, info and news. “In the aftermath of Sandy’s massive destruction, social became a channel for the world to help and send warm thoughts to those left in the dark,” the blog said.

I think we all should remember Twitter in 2012 for being a way people deal with and make it through life’s difficulties, just like in years past and during important global events. (The Arab Spring Uprisings leap to mind.) In 2012 we saw widespread power outages in and around New York City and other northeastern metropolitan areas – and we also saw simple gestures of kindness and solidarity like store owners stringing together “power strips” and giving free electricity access to passersby. The iPhone, Android smartphones and other “smart” devices proved their value to many, as we saw thousands of people who otherwise had no way to contact far away friends and family, using social media as much as they used simple phone calls as a lifeline. In 2012 we again saw Twitter used as a way for ordinary citizens to communicate with authority figures. Small-town mayors and other civil servants monitored Twitter and responded to questions, complaints, and even the occasional pleas for help, with the touch of a few buttons or a few taps on a touch-screen monitor.

Twitter in 2012 was also a major source of information for consumers. Tech products, like the Apple iPhone and iPad, drove major spikes in tweet traffic as tech experts and clueless “newbies” alike talked back and forth about upcoming items, when they’d be released and whether or not they were worth buying. Likewise, corporations continued to learn that a fan-base on Twitter can turn from a powerful help into a harmful critic if social media managers aren’t careful. Blogger Seth Fiegerman at Mashable compiled “11 Biggest Social Media Disasters of 2012” – among them:

  1. McDonald’s attempt to get #mcdstories trending, only to have the hashtag hijacked with fast food horror stories
  2. Snickers candy bars being eaten by British celebs in Twitter pics, which wouldn’t have been bad if the company knew that it’s illegal in the U.K. if it isn’t revealed as a paid endorsement
  3. Chick-Fil-A’s founder’s anti-same-sex marriage stance, which ignited many flame wars across social media
  4. Chick-Fil-A’s subsequent related controversy over whether or not the company created a fake Facebook account to defend the company after a Jim Hensen’s Creature Shop Puppet toy recall (ironically, a fake online accounts is called a “sock puppet”)
  5. American Apparel’s attempt to turn Hurricane Sandy into a promotional opportunity, offering 20% off for those in states affected by the storm, in case they were “bored.”

So with the old year behind us and 2013 well underway, we at Socialty hope you’ll remember to the highlights and lowlights of 2012 from Twitter and other social media platforms. And if you haven’t already, contact us to provide you with top-of-the-line social media services for your business. We provide high-quality content and account management, so in 12 months when you look back at 2013 you can say “I’m glad I had Socialty in 2013 to help keep our business growing!”

 

Sources for “Twitter Trends and Tragedies of 2012” were:

http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/technology/2012/12/top-twitter-trends-of-2012/

http://blog.hootsuite.com/twitter-trends-2012/

http://mashable.com/2012/11/25/social-media-business-disasters-2012/

 

 

Keywords:  Twitter, social media, 2012, HootSuite, business, ABC News, Socialty Inc., Hurricane Sandy

 

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