A Year on Twitter – A look back at the Tweets that made 2012

President Barack Obama celebrates as he Tweets For the first time Twitter has created a dedicated website looking back at some of the most talked about moments of the last year in the UK and around the world in a year that saw London host an Olympic Games that beat all expectations, and create some inspiring memories for all. It was also a year that saw a Tweet from Mars, Barack Obama win four more years and David Cameron, Nadine Dorries, Gary Lineker and Girls Aloud among many others finally join the 140 character conversation.

While Barack Obama’s ‘Four more years’ message became the world’s most retweeted Tweet ever it was Boris Johnson dancing at the Olympics closing ceremony that became the UK’s most Tweeted moment of 2012 as his populist character won plaudits.

His turn during the London Olympics led a UK Twitter Top Ten list that was dominated by sport and the X Factor with no room for anything else.

Twitter has pulled together the key moments and popular Tweets from around the world and collated them on www.2012.twitter.com.

Twitter A UK Perspective

As well as revealing some of the world’s biggest Tweets and trends, it has released exclusive UK data and information that gives a glimpse into what Brits have been talking about during a pretty glorious 2012 that took us through a series of highs, lows and more highs again from the Diamond Jubilee, Euro 2012, the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Highest spikes in UK Twitter conversation

It really has been a year when sport made so many of the headlines that appealed to us all. Seven out of the top 10 highest spikes in Twitter conversation this year are related to sport.

At the height of the games Team GB was mentioned more than 4.4 million times on Twitter as the British Gold medals flowed.

If it is not sport then it is the X Factor underscoring the “phenomenal relationship” Twitter and TV enjoy. As Twitter’s UK sales director, Bruce Daisley, put it recently: “Twitter and TV have become extraordinary partners over the past twelve months – Twitter loves TV and TV loves Twitter.”

The top 10 list UK Twitter moments based on 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 Meters 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’s Ronaldo’s goal put Real 3-2 ahead, ultimately resulting in a victory (Tuesday September 18)

How Twitter grew in 2012

As well as talked about moments in 2012 Twitter has brought together a list of 10 UK examples of moments that only happened on Twitter and show how it has continued to grow and develop as a social media platform breaking new ground and witnessing social firsts.


In July of this year, Blur made something of a comeback and 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.


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 although this wasn’t immediately welcomed by all. 

A new Archbishop of Canterbury

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).

It created another genuine Twitter moment as the Church of England flexed its social media muscle and the event was live tweeted, blogged and reported.

Political Tweets

Politics is always hot on Twitter from Prime Minister’s Questions #PMQ, to by-elections and reshuffles. We have had it all in 2012.

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’ :

The world of 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.

Twitter in Sport

In May, footballer Eden Hazard (@HazardEden10) revealed that he was joining Chelsea exclusively via Twitter.

His move was one of the most hotly anticipated transfers of the season and fans following him on the platform were the first to know.

It wasn’t only player changes where news broke first on Twitter. 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:

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:

Usain Bolt and Rio Ferdinand

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

During the games Bolt had set a new Twitter record, but that fell to another man making great strides of his own. He racked up over 80,000 tweets per minute for his 200m victory. Bolt, who had already won gold and retained his 100m title, tweeted that the win made him a “living legend”.

The Top Twitter Trends of 2012

Surprisingly maybe, but on Twitter the Paralympics that topped the table for the most trending UK sports event with the Olympics not far behind. Football took up seven of the top 10 spots for sport with Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal dominating:  1. #Paralympics; 2. #LFC; 3. #MUFC 4. Olympics; 5. Liverpool; 6. Arsenal; 7. #WWE; 8. Leeds; 9. #COYS (Tottenham Hotspur); 10. #AFC.

The Political Trends on Twitter in 2012  

While Cameron (@David_Cameron) finally joined Twitter in October and made a quick march to 100,000 followers it’s perhaps no surprise that he topped the poll of Twitter UK political trends.

There were also two appearances for Mitt Romney (helped by his London Olympic gaffe that gave us RomneyShambles maybe?) as the American presidential race gripped nations both sides of the Atlantic. It was an election race where Twitter was at the fore as every debate became a huge international talking point.

There were also two top 10 spots for London Mayor Boris Johnson, who oversaw London 2012. Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg also made the top ten.

The big Issues on Twitter in 2012

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.

It was, however, the NHS that topped the issues as the two sides fought over changes to the UK’s health service and the debate raged online.

At two was Syria where fighting continued all year. It proved the top international issue for the UK’s 10 million active Twitter users with Afghanistan also featuring in the top ten.

The strange case of Julian Assange, holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy ensured that he featured as did the naked shots of  Prince Harry. Leveson, VAT and Samantha Brick also made the top ten.

The new faces on Twitter in 2012

In this year’s list of new UK voices on Twitter, Cameron joined 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.

It is another sign clearly saying that you really have to be on Twitter as it is a platform that you simply can not ignore.