Twitter Year in Review: Top People, Trends & Events of 2012

Twitter has released their annual “Year on Twitter” collection of the hottest trends, topics, and people across five different categories.


President Obama’s tweet, “Four more years,” was Twitter’s Golden Tweet of 2012, earning more retweets than any other. Obama’s November 6 celebratory tweet after winning the election had over 810,000 retweets and was marked a favorite by more than 300,000 Twitter users.

The second most popular tweet in terms of sharing was Justin Bieber’s tribute to a young fan who had passed away. Six-year old Avalanna Routh lost her battle with a rare form of brain cancer in September. Bieber’s tweet, “RIP Avalanna. i love you” was retweeted over 220,000 times and favorited by 100,000 people.

Pulse of the Planet - Biggest Conversations on Twitter


Twitter’s Pulse of the Planet category tracks the biggest conversations on their social web, based on the number of tweets or retweets about a single event. London’s Summer Olympics took the gold with over 150 million tweets broadcast over the 16-day event. Usain Bolt’s 200m sprint win spurred the greatest volume of chatter on competitions, with 80,000 tweets per minute making him the most-discussed athlete of the year.

Other events on this list included:

  • Election Day, more than 31 million tweets
  • MTV Video Music Awards,14.7 million tweets
  • Super Bowl, 13.7 million tweets
  • Euro 2012, which generated 267,200 tweets per minute.

#tcot, #NFL, Family Guy All Hot Topics In 2012

Twitter describes their Trends category as, “the topics for which we see noteworthy spikes in Twitter conversations. The 2012 Trends reveal what captured our attention, rather than what terms were consistently popular.”

In politics, #tcot (Top Conservatives on Twitter) and #teaparty showcased the public’s interest in discussing candidates and their activities. Real-time events like the debates caused record conversation levels on Twitter.

NFL and Nascar dominated in the sports category, while Family Guy and Big Brother generated the most conversation about TV shows.

AT&T was the most talked about topic in technology, followed by the iPhone, Instagram, Skype and Kindle. Other trends categories tracked by Twitter included countries, food, music, movies and conversation starters.

Big Names Flock to Twitter

Twitter’s New Voices category lists people influential in a number of different ways who joined Twitter in 2012. It spans politics, religion, sports, news, and entertainment; here are a few highlights:

  • TV star Steve Carell
  • Do-gooder Chelsea Clinton
  • Music legends Neil Young and Ringo Starr
  • Sports icon Pele
  • Pope Benedict XVI

Twitter has broken this category into subsections, with expandable lists that link to each new Twitter profile on the list. See their full coverage here.


This year, Twitter has also partnered with Vizify to offer an interactive infographic service for Twitter users, who can have their own account analyzed for Golden Tweets and trends. Users can then share their top tweets and topics, or the entire infographic, with their own network, as SEW author Bryan Eisenberg did above. Make your own Twitter Year in Review here.

For more information on the people and events that most inspired social conversation on Twitter this year, check out their 2012 Year on Twitter site and have a look at the video highlights below.

You can also revisit Twitter’s hottest topics and trends from 2011 and 2010.

About the author

A member of the Professional Writer's Association of Canada, Miranda has authored more than 60 e-books, 300 client projects, and thousands of articles and blog posts for clients ranging from SMBs to government agencies and Fortune 100 companies.

Miranda studied e-commerce at Athabasca University and specializes in marketing, business and educational material. She currently assists the Province of Ontario Ministries of Research & Innovation and Economic Development, Trade & Employment with their copywriting and SEO goals. She is one of a handful of Canadian consultants experienced with Ontario's new adult literacy curriculum framework and as such, is contracted by literacy agencies and publishing houses to develop new learning material.