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Twitter in 2012 – the Record Breaking Year

Twitter had a big year in 2012; the popular micro-blogging site surpassed over 200 million active monthly users, the ranks of which now include Pope Benedict and US First Lady, Michelle Obama. With huge global events occurring throughout the year, Twitter has really come into its own and asserted itself as a social media heavyweight, especially in the eyes of PR agencies.

The United States Presidential election was the most tweeted about political event in history, with President Barack Obama’s ‘Four More Years’ winning tweet being retweeted over half a million times to become the most popular tweet ever. The first presidential debate in Denver achieved over 10 million tweets alone in the 90 minute period it was on, beating President Obama’s 52,757 tweets per minute (tpm) record at the Democratic National Convention a few months earlier.

In sports, the summer Olympic games in London became the first ‘Social Olympics’, generating over 150 million tweets throughout the course of the games, with the opening ceremony inspiring 9.6 million of those, and the first 24 hours of the games seeing more tweets than the entire 2008 Beijing Olympics. This is of course to say nothing about the 2012 UEFA European Football Championship and Chelsea’s Champions League semi-final win over Barcelona, which beat the Super Bowl to become the most tweeted about sporting event ever, with more than 13,000 tpm.

Now that Twitter’s start-up days are over, speculation is growing about it potentially going public, especially as 2012 was also the year when Twitter finally began to cash-in on its success. By 2014, it’s possible that Twitter will generate at least $1 billion in sales as demand for advertising to its hundreds of millions of users increases. However, as Twitter turns eight in 2014, this projected revenue will be slightly behind Facebook and Google, both of which reached the billion-dollar mark after being live for five years and six years respectively.

As well as the positive signs of growth and profitability, 2012 will also be remembered as the year when Twitter suffered significant backlash from third-party developers, who complained that they felt betrayed by decisions they felt the company had made to benefit its own interests, in contrast to what they see as the open nature of the platform. Most notably, Twitter clashed with Instagram, LinkedIn and Tumblr; when you consider that Twitter relied on developers during the early years of its existence to achieve growth, this disappointed many who felt they were at least partly responsible for its present day achievements.

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Overall, 2012 was a success for Twitter, as the micro-blogging site became the world’s de-facto town square. While 2013 is sure to bring its own set of challenges to overcome, the future is definitely a bright one.

Punch Communications is an integrated PR, search and social media agency, which specialises in social search amongst other disciplines.

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