The social media site Twitter, in only a few short years, has managed to forever change the way generations of people communicate. Whether sharing breaking news, announcing political victories, or mourning the deaths of our heroes, Twitter has become an integral part of the social landscape.
We’ve made a list of the top tweets of all time – not just the most retweeted tweets (those titles are held almost exclusively by celebrities), but also the history-changing tweets, the momentous twitter events, and the minute messages that reflect just how much can be said in only 140 characters
Most Retweeted Tweet of All Time – Obama Is Reelected
On the night of November 6, 2012, President Obama announced his successful re-election as President of the United States with a short and sweet tweet, which has since become the most retweeted item in history:
Obama’s 2012 victory tweet has been retweeted over 660,000 times (still rising), blowing away the previous record for most retweeted tweet by Justin Bieber, with around 220,000 tweets. Obama’s identical message posted on Facebook broke records there for Likes, with 3.1 million Likes and counting.
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These incredible record-setting numbers are no surprise considering the 2012 election itself was a record breaker, becoming the most tweeted about event in US history with 20 million tweets:
In 2008, when Obama first won his first term as US President, he set another Twitter first by tweeting his thanks to supporters, making him the first president to tweet from the White House. These unbelievable, record-breaking numbers prove just how powerful Twitter is becoming as a medium for news and tool for political movements.
Top News-Related Tweets
Twitter has enabled world news to travel faster than ever, with major events spreading across the internet with a few clicks of a keyboard. Here are some of the biggest news stories (and scandals) that swept across Twitter.
Phoenix Finds Ice on Mars
When the robotic spacecraft Phoenix lander found evidence of water on Mars, NASA sent out a tweet to share the exciting discovery with the world on June 19, 2008.
Kenton Cool Tweets From Everest
Kenton Cool, an experienced British alpine climber, gained worldwide attention after climbing Mt. Everest and tweeting out his success (with the help of his handy Samsung Galaxy S2 – I guess we could have put this tweet under marketing too!).
Tweeting from Everest is pretty cool (especially by a man called Kenton Cool), but as it turns out, he wasn’t the first to achieve this, although he earned most of the recognition; Eric Larsen tweeted from Everest 6 months prior, although that seemed to pass most people’s attention.
The #Occupy Hashtag is Born
Adbusters sent out this legendary tweet that first began the #OccupyWallStreet hashtag.
While @Adbusters didn’t remain the lead tweeter of the occupy movement, the hashtag became a major symbol for the movement, which relied heavily on Twitter in order to broadcast meeting instructions and updates for protestors.
Crime Fighting on Twitter
Twitter saves lives – it’s true! In April 2012, a man from Johanesbury was carjacked and forced into the trunk of his car. As his assailants sped off, the victim realized he had his cellphone and quickly texted his girlfriend, who then tweeted the situation, asking a specific twitter user, @pigspotter, who had 10,000 followers for help.
@pigspotter helped the women get in contact with local private security forces. Together they tracked the cell phone signal and then notified police, who were able to find and release the captured man from his trunk. While it seems odd that the man in the car trunk didn’t directly call the police, this story is an example of the numerous situations in recent years in which Twitter has assisted in brining criminals to justice. Fight on Twitter vigilantes!
Anthony Weiner’s Twitter Disaster
Anthony Weiner was part of what many might call one of the biggest Twitter catastrophes to date. The then U.S. Congressman intended to send a private pic message to a favorite follower, but ended up sending the incrementing picture of his junk to the entire Twitterverse (the tweet shown above was the following cover-up tweet – the original scandalous tweet pic was deleted by Weiner as soon as he realized his mistake).
The nature of Anthony Weiner’s misdemeanor coincided all too well with his name, making this story of misplaced wieners hilarious and extremely popular, forcing him to resign from Congress. I wrote a full story about it back when it happened in 2011, “Sometimes Even the Weiners are Losers”. And you thought we forgot Weiner! Nope, not yet.
BP Oil Spill Spawns a Parody Account
The BP Global oil spill was a tremendous tragedy in 2010, infuriating eco-activists all over as oceans and animals emerged covered in oil. Sometimes though, laughter is the best medicine. Soon after the incident, a parody account, @bpglobalpr, began sending out humorous tweets that lightened the load of the oil-soaked seagulls on our shoulders.
Top Marketing Tweets
Kenneth Cole’s Ill-Placed Ad
While Twitter can be a great marketing venue for businesses, a single slip-up can cause major PR nightmares. Kenneth Cole hoped to take advantage of the upheaval in Cairo, but his quip backlashed when many found his comment to be disrespectful and irreverent concerning the protests in Egypt. Eager marketers beware!
Old Spice’s Epic Video Response Marketing Campaign
In 2012 after Old Spice’s ”The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” commercial attracted so much buzz, Old Spice decided to take their marketing efforts to the next level through a series of response campaign videos. Old Spice asked users to tweet questions to @OldSpice, and 186 video replies were created in response.
This marketing campaign was successful on an epic level – Old Spice’s Twitter following increased by 2700%. Although the response video campaign took place across a number of social media sites (which is part of why the campaign did so incredibly well), it all started on Twitter, and for that @OldSpice deserves a big gold star.
Top Celebrity Tweets
Oprah Sends a Tweet
As one of the first big celebrities to enter the Twitter-verse, Oprah Winfrey’s entrance to Twitter served as a big-name thumbs-up that sparked the beginning of other celebrity tweeters.
Charlie Sheen Shows Us What it Means to be “Winning”
Charlie Sheen’s train wreck of a life became a national fascination in 2011, and Sheen amused the Tweetaverse with observations about the benefits of tiger blood and how to know if you’re “winning.”
The Charlie Sheen phenomenon peaked with this legendary tweet from Sheen, setting a Guinness World Record for reaching 1 million followers in the quickest amount of time ever.
Bieber Rules the Twitterverse
Any single tweet that Justin Bieber sends out will have more retweets than most of us would garner in a lifetime. Bieber has shown just how powerful Twitter can be – one tweet from him can make or break a career, as Carly Rae Jepsen discovered when Bieber’s tweet about her song boosted her into the ranks of superstars.
Yup, the Biebster knows how to take advantage of Twitter. There are even legends surrounding how many Twitter severs are dedicated exclusively to him.
Bieber’s most popular tweet (and the record holder of most retweeted tweet until being usurped recently by President Obama) to date is his RIP to six-year-old Avalanna, the unofficial “Mrs. Bieber” who died of cancer.
Racking up over 222,000 retweets and 100,000 favorites, even those immune to Bieber fever have to recognize this young superstar dominates Twitter.
The First Papal Tweet
Pope Benedict XVI sent out the first ever papal tweet in June of 2011, showing an effort on the Vatican’s part to integrate into the modern world of technology. The tweet was even sent out from an iPad – His Holiness is plugged in!
Ebert Finds a New Voice on Twitter
The famous movie critic Roger Ebert has been delivering cinema reviews and harsh criticisms for decades, but after his battle with thyroid cancer and resulting operations, he was left unable to speak. A critic without a voice is a sad and acutely dismal anomaly, but Ebert was able to rediscover his voice through Twitter.
While there is no one single mega-popular tweet that emblazons Ebert to the list of “Top Tweets of All Time,” he is important because he represents the value Twitter holds, the possibilities it can provide. Twitter has helped make it possible for Ebert to continue his work as a fiery film critic, delighting us with his shinning and scathing reviews of the latest Hollywood hits and flops.
Tweets About Deaths & RIPs
Death of Osama Bin Laden
The death of Osama Bin Laden was one of the biggest pieces of news in 2011, but equally important is how the news of the notorious terrorist’s death came to light. Twitter user @ReallyVirtual tweeted:
@ReallyVirtual, whose real name is Sohaib Athar , continued to tweet about the actions in Abottabad, unwittingly revealing the top-secret military operation hours before President Obama officially announced the attack.
This incident is emblematic of how news distribution has changed with the rise of the internet. Top news stories don’t belong solely to major newspapers or reporters. Instead the biggest stories can be broken by any tweeter who is at the right place at the right time.
King of Pop’s Passing
When musical sensation Michael Jackson passed away on June 25, 2009, news of his death spread like wildfire across Twitter.
At one point in the day, conversation about the pop star’s death reached epic proportions, with nearly 30% of all tweets discussing Jackson’s death and memory (as a comparison, the swine flu epidemic didn’t top 5%). Nine out of the ten most popular topics on Twitter were associated with the star’s tragic demise, and Twitter struggled to keep up as goodbyes and RIP wishes rushed in. Twitter was flooded with tweets memorializing Jackson, with celebrities and regular Joes alike paying tribute to the king of pop.
Steve Jobs Is Remembered by Gadget Lovers Across the Globe
Steve Jobs is considered by many to be one the most formidable influences shaping how we use and interact with modern technology. Jobs’ work at Apple helped make the brand the giant name it is today as Jobs brought elegance and design to technology in an entirely new and unique way.
Many were struck at news of his death, tweeting well wishes on their iPhones, whose creation they owe at least in part to Jobs. While the significance of Steve Jobs’ death cannot be resigned to any single tweet, a remembrance of Steve Jobs by Bill Gates was one of the major tweets being retweeted and pointed to throughout the day of Jobs’ death.
What Are Your Favorite Tweets of All Time?
And that, ladies and gentleman, concludes our list of the best tweets ever. Are there any tweets you think we missed? Let us know in the comments!