2013: The Year on Twitter

2013 was the year a new #RoyalBaby entered the world, the year the nation rocked out to the Glastonbury festival, @Andy_Murray won Wimbledon, and Richard III’s remains were found in a car park in Leicester. It was also the year in which One Direction took Twitter by storm.

To mark the end of the year, we delved into the data to create our annual ‘Year on Twitter’ roundup.

We discovered what got the UK tweeting in 2013 — what trended, who joined, and which British Twitter stars left their mark on the world stage.

What’s happening?

We looked at the ten UK events that created the biggest spikes in UK Twitter traffic in 2013. The results reveal us to be a nation of sporting fans.

People come together on Twitter to experience big moments and share in the roar of the crowd. And in the 2013 top ten, England’s World Cup qualification and Murray’s Wimbledon victory took pride of place alongside Premier and Champions League matches. Tweets to welcome in the New Year also made an appearance in the list, as well as Mumford and Sons closing Glastonbury:

  1. March 5th: Manchester United are beaten 2-1 by Real Madrid, knocking them out of the Champions League
  2. January 1st: Revellers celebrate as they see in the New Year
  3. July 13th: Andy Murray wins Wimbledon, making him the first male British singles champion since Fred Perry in 1936
  4. June 2nd: England draw 2-2 with Brazil in a friendly, in a match that marked the official reopening of the Maracanã stadium ahead of the Brazil 2014 World Cup
  5. April 30th: Real Madrid beat Borussia Dortmund (2-0) in the Champions League semi-final second leg, but are knocked out of the championships on aggregate
  6. May 11th: Wigan win the FA Cup Final, the first major trophy in their history
  7. August 14th: England beat Scotland 3-2 in an international friendly at Wembley
  8. April 23rd: Bayern Munich beat FC Barcelona 4-0 in the first leg of the Champions League semi-final, equalling Barcelona’s worst ever European defeat in their history
  9. June 30th: Mumford and Sons close the Glastonbury Festival, with a special appearance on stage from The Vaccines and Vampire Weekend, singing Beatles classic ‘With a Little Help From My Friends’
  10. October 15th: England beat Poland 2-0, qualifying for a place in the Brazil 2014 World Cup

Most retweeted

People also come to Twitter to get closer to their idols, retweeting, favouriting and replying to messages from the accounts they follow. To discover the most popular Tweets of 2013, we looked at those that had the most retweets at their peak.

The world’s most popular message of the year, which peaked at 408,000 retweets, came from Glee star Lea Michele (@msleamichele) with this message thanking fans for their support following the death of her co-star and partner Cory Monteith (@CoryMonteith):

Fans were stunned when they heard Fast and the Furious star Paul Walker (@RealPaulWalker) had passed away in a car crash in December of this year. His team shared this message from his official Twitter account, which peaked at 400,000 retweets:

Meanwhile, boy band One Direction (@OneDirection) also attracted huge numbers of retweets from fans around the globe as they shared their unique perspectives on worldwide fame. Three of the five most retweeted messages of the year came from members of the band as they became a global phenomenon.

This Tweet, posted in September by Niall Horan (@NiallOfficial) to celebrate his 20th birthday, peaked at 375,000 retweets:

Zayn Malik’s (@zaynmalik) picture of bandmate Harry Styles sleeping peaked at 344,000 retweets, and his Tweet thanking their fans for their best wishes when he announced his engagement generated a peak of 336,000 retweets:

Although none of his Tweets made the top five, Harry Styles (@Harry_Styles), pictured in Zayn’s Tweet, remains the most-followed member of One Direction with more than 18 million followers. Each of the five band members have their own account on Twitter, as well as the @OneDirection band account. Between the six accounts the band have more than 29 million unique followers around the globe.

What’s trending?

In 2013, Twitter was the place where people created and shared ideas and information instantly, without barriers.

People in the UK came to the platform to remember those who passed away, bidding farewell to former Poet Laureate Seamus Heaney, author Iain Banks, Glee actor Cory Monteith, former Prime Minister Baroness Thatcher, Sopranos leading man James Gandolfini and, most recently, former South African President Nelson Mandela.

It’s also the place people discussed breaking news, from chemical attacks in Syria to protests in Turkey. From the election of a new Pope to the news of Angelina Jolie’s double mastectomy.

Looking back, we are reminded that 2013 was the year in which the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge welcomed a #RoyalBaby into the world, Richard III’s remains were found in a carpark in Leicester, Britain braced itself for #UKStorm St Jude, and the footballing world said #ThankYouSirAlex.

For fans of TV, Twitter gives people a place to discuss and debate their favourite shows. From political panel shows like #BBCTW and #BBCQT to reality TV events like #BGT, #TheApprentice and Celebrity Big Brother, Twitter provided the second screen for TV fans as they tweeted along in real time, sharing the drama with fellow viewers across the country.

What trended?

We also looked at what trended on Twitter in the UK during 2013. Trending topics help Twitter users discover the hottest emerging topics as they break, making the platform a great place to keep up-to-date with events and discuss the latest news.

These lists show what trended most frequently in the UK in 2013, rather than representing the volume of conversation about a topic or the most talked-about topics. (And remember that trends don’t give any indication of sentiment — when something trends, that simply means it has captured the UK’s attention, not that it was necessarily a hit.)

Who Joined?

As people around the UK join Twitter, so do well-known figures from the UK and beyond. 2013 was the year in which @ManUtd joined the platform, meaning that you can now follow all 20 Premier League clubs on Twitter.

The club joined other new Twitter voices including comedians Monty Python (@MontyPython), former footballer Paul Gascoigne (@gazzaofficial), Hollywood actress Cameron Diaz (@CameronDiaz) and Prince Andrew, the Duke of York (@TheDukeOfYork).

Here’s a selection of new Twitter accounts that have signed up in 2013 from the UK and elsewhere:

  1. BBC Two (@BBCTwo), TV channel (UK)
  2. Drew Barrymore (@DrewBarrymore), actress (US)
  3. Warren Buffett (@WarrenBuffett), businessman (US)
  4. Gerard Butler (@GerardButler), actor (UK)
  5. Hillary Clinton, (@HillaryClinton), politician (US)
  6. Bill Clinton (@billclinton), former president (US)
  7. Tim Cook (@tim_cook), Apple CEO (US)
  8. Cameron Diaz (@CameronDiaz), actress (US)
  9. Roger Federer (@rogerfederer), tennis player (Switzerland)
  10. Luis Figo (@LuisFigo), footballer (Portugal)
  11. Paul Gascoigne (@gazzaofficial), former footballer (UK)
  12. Justine Greening (@JustineGreening), MP (UK)
  13. Katie Holmes (@KatieHolmes212), actress (US)
  14. Stephen King, (@StephenKing) author (US)
  15. Hugh Laurie (@hughlaurie), actor (UK)
  16. Manchester United FC (@ManUtd), football club (UK)
  17. Kate Mosse (@KateMosse) author (UK)
  18. George Osborne (@George_Osborne), Chancellor of the Exchequer (UK)
  19. Sarah Jessica Parker (@SJP), actress (US)
  20. Philip Pullman (@PhilipPullman), author (UK)
  21. Monty Python (@MontyPython), comedians (UK)
  22. Emma Rigby (@DameRigby), actress (UK)
  23. Maria Sharapova (@MariaSharapova), tennis player (Russia)
  24. Zoe Wanamaker (@ZoeWanamaker) actress (UK)
  25. Dominic West (@DominicWest), actor (UK)
  26. Robin Williams (@robinwilliams), actor (US)
  27. Samantha Womack (@Sam_Womack), actress (UK)
  28. Ronnie Wood (@ronniewood), Rolling Stones (UK)
  29. Jaime Winstone (@JWinstone), actress (UK)
  30. Prince Andrew, Duke of York (@TheDukeOfYork), royal family (UK)

Only on Twitter
Twitter connects people around the world, kindling conversations and interactions that transcend ages, continents and time zones, giving users unique, behind-the-scenes perspectives. Here’s a selection of some 2013’s most memorable only-on-Twitter moments:

January
Sometimes truth can be stranger than fiction — take, for example, when Star Trek actor @WilliamShatner tweeted astronaut Commander Chris Hadfield (@Cmdr_Hadfield), who was on board the international space station:

When Serbia’s Novak Djokovic (@DjokerNole) won the Australian open, Belarusian women’s champion Victoria Azarenka (@vika7) tweeted him with her congratulations:

February

London 2012 star Rebecca Adlington (@BeckAdlington) announced her retirement from professional swimming this year — and fellow Olympian Jessica Ennis-Hill (@J_Ennis) shared her best wishes on Twitter:

March

Adele (@OfficialAdele) is the UK’s most followed musician with more than 18 million followers. So when she passed her driving test, it was her Twitter followers she decided to share her excitement with, generating a few responses from some well-known names:

April

Fans of Roy Lichtenstein took a stroll around the Tate Modern’s retrospective exhibition this Thursday — without even leaving the house. The inaugural #TateTour brought pop art enthusiasts across the globe closer than ever to the show in the gallery’s first curator-led tour to take place on Twitter:

May

When @LondonMidland trains updated their Twitter followers about a delay, they weren’t expecting a reply from this chap:

June

As Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood (@RonnieWood) travelled to the Glastonbury festival to perform on the Pyramid Stage, he shared this candid behind-the-scenes snap with this followers:

August

David Cameron (@David_Cameron) recalled parliament to discuss the emerging situation in Syria, using Twitter to announce the news:

September

When Rugby Union star Manu Tuilagi (@Manutuilagi) played a prank on Prime Minister David Cameron, here’s how the conversation played out on Twitter:

October

Musician Lou Reed passed away this year, and author Salman Rushdie (@SalmanRushdie) took to Twitter to reminisce about the time they had been to see the Peewee Herman show together — @peeweeherman replied, sharing his condolences:

November

When Colin James’ (@TMCJ) elderly mother went missing, his Tweet was retweeted more than 2,500 times. Hours later, she was safely found:

December

In 2013, we launched Twitter Alerts in the UK, a product that allows emergency services, charities and governments to send information to subscribers in times of crisis. The @EnvAgency and @EssexPoliceUK both used it this December to warn residents of flooding risks:

If you’re not on Twitter, there couldn’t be a better time to sign up. Download the app or sign up at twitter.com and start following the accounts that interest you.

And to relive more of the biggest moments from around the globe this year, head over to 2013.twitter.com.