The year is coming to a close so it’s time for the traditional end-of-the-year roundup. All year long I’ve collected striking facts, information and tidbits from all over the world in relation to social media. Obviously a lot more has been going on than what you’ll find in this overview but these are the stories that stayed with me somehow. I hope you’ll enjoy this little trip down memory lane.

As usual you are free to complete this overview with high or low points that made an impression on you.

As befitting any self-respecting annual overview there is also a video summary on ‘social media in 2013′.


The key event in January is undoubtedly the inauguration of president Obama. Some 1.1 million tweets are sent in the course of the event.

Users worldwide tweet one remarkable quote after another. The most striking aspect of the speech is that it’s clearly written for Twitter. Quite a few quotes are less than 120 characters long, making them eminently tweetable. The difference is in the details. By the way, the day after the inauguration the focus shifts to Beyonce’s lip synced version of the Star Spangled Banner.

January also gives us the perfectly orchestrated confession of Lance Armstrong on Oprah Winfrey’s couch. Before long, #Doprah becomes a trending topic on Twitter. Still, the interview also teaches us the difference between Twitter and Facebook. Twitter reactions are furious while some supportive remarks are posted on Facebook. There’s obviously a difference between Fans and Followers.

Also in January, Facebook presents its Social Graph. The graph proves yet again that the company’s stock market launch forced Facebook to take a more commercial approach. And then there are a few juicy anecdotes such as a picture of Justin Bieber flashing his rear, a snapshot that chalks up over 100,000 likes on Instagram.


The start of February is dominated by the sports and marketing event of the year: the Superbowl. Do you remember who won the Superbowl? Twitter! Twitter is the undisputed winner of this year’s Superbowl. Advertisers post noticeably more #tags and links to their brand site than links to Facebook pages. 75% of brands integrate social media in their TV ad. During the game, Twitter racks up 24 million tweets, or three times more than the preceding year. The conversations on Facebook are fewer in number and less entertaining. In the days that follow, the media focus primarily on the influence of and the conversations on Twitter. Taco Bell’s ad scores the highest number of tweets and also generates a high sentiment score.

Facebook also publishes some impressive figures: by February, the number of users has exceeded 1.06 billion people, or a 25% increase compared to twelve months earlier. More than 600 million people use Facebook on a daily basis. The turnover is 1.33 billion. Stockholders are a bit disappointed and the share depreciates slightly.

Other research draws optimistic conclusions on the intention of marketers to increase their investments in Facebook. 64% indicated their intention to increase their social advertising budget for 2013 and 80% claim they will invest more in Facebook. Satisfaction ratings on Facebook advertising are satisfactory but not excellent.

LinkedIn’s excellent results surprise the investment world. Early February, the company’s share is bumped 20%. Expectations are surpassed for the seventh quarter in a row, making LinkedIn the most successful share in the world of social media. LinkedIn’s small-scale but intelligent activation campaign is also worth mentioning. Active members receive an email telling them their profile is among the 1-5% most viewed profiles. Many people share the news on Twitter and Facebook, creating a welcome source of free advertising on the other networks.

February also reveals how vulnerable a Twitter account really is. It all starts with the hacking of Burger King’s Twitter account. The Burger King logo is replaced with a McDonald’s logo and this leads to some unusual tweets.

Other popular subjects on Twitter are the pope’s abdication and the Academy Awards. Late February @Pontifex sends a final tweet before the account is deleted altogether.

These are his last digital words: “Thank you for your love and support. May you always experience the joy that comes from putting Christ at the centre of your lives.” — Benedict XVI (@Pontifex) February 28, 2013

The Academy Awards also see a few digital novelties. For the first time, the entire show is streamed live on the internet. It is also the first time that a film (‘Inocente’) financed with Kickstarter funds wins an Oscar, viz. for best documentary. Through Kickstarter, $ 52,000 was collected to finance the documentary. All of a sudden, crowd funding is becoming very tangible. Incidentally, this time Facebook wipes the floor with Twitter: 65 million Facebook interactions during the award show eclipse 9 million tweets.


In March a new pope is elected. The inauguration of the new church leader is obviously the hottest topic of conversation on Twitter and Facebook. During the ceremony it becomes obvious how fast the world has changed. The difference between the picture of St Peter’s Square in 2005 and the one from 2013 is nothing short of spectacular.

Francis I was already active on social media before he became pope. Prior to his inauguration, his Facebook page already has 40,000 fans.

The new pope is the topic of conversation on Twitter. At its peak, the news about the new church father generates 132,000 tweets per minute. That’s a respectable score but the record set by Obama’s re-election (over 250,000 tweets per minute) is never in danger.

Another hot topic in March is the end of Google Reader. The hard core of Google Reader users find it hard to conceal their disappointment and they go in search of an alternative. I imagine the demise of Google Reader certainly didn’t hurt Feedly.


In April Margaret Thatcher dies. While this is big news in the UK, the level of activity on Twitter is relatively low compared to the previous major events. In the first three hours following the announcement of her death, ‘just’ 900 tweets per minute are sent and it’s all downhill from there. It’s worth mentioning that 43% of those tweets have a negative content; conversely, only 19% of the Thatcher-related tweets share a positive sentiment.

The other big news item in April are the terrible Boston marathon bombings. Immediately after the attack, Twitter users try to assist the police in hunting down the perpetrators by sharing pictures of potential suspects. Many feel the person on the roof in the picture below is a viable suspect and while this person is soon eliminated as a suspect, it is still the first time that so much footage of a major attack is available to help find those responsible.

The Boston PD even goes so far as to actively request that people forward their pictures and videos.


When Dove launches its ‘real beauty sketches’ campaign, it becomes the most viewed campaign in history. In an age when consumers are said to be fed up with advertising, we apparently flock to YouTube in our thousands to watch good commercials.

YouTube is clearly fulfilling a more and more prominent role in the world of social media. In May, the company announces that 100 hours of video material is being uploaded every single minute as opposed to 24 hours per minute in 2009. One hundred hours per minute: it’s hard to grasp, really.

In May we also witness yet another mind-boggling takeover when Yahoo purchases Tumblr for $1.1 billion.

In May there is also bad news from the States when Oklahoma is hit by one of the worst tornadoes in recorded history, killing over fifty. Lots of horrible pictures and videos are posted online. The world almost gets to witness the victims’ terror live while the storm is raging in all its fury. The video below collects millions of views during that period and illustrates the awesome power of a tornado of this magnitude.

And then there’s also the global hype around the release of Daft Punk’s new album, ‘Random Access Memories’. It’s one thing to announce that an album will conquer the world but going out and effectively doing it is a remarkable feat. The album pulverizes the Spotify record in no time and with over 8 million listeners, the new CD becomes the most streamed album in history.


The month kicks off with big news when Justin Bieber becomes the first person on the planet to attract 40 million followers on Twitter. From a social media point of view I couldn’t help but mention this.

There is also breaking news from Turkey when Istanbul becomes the scene of a popular uprising against the Erdogan government. Once again social media play a pivotal role. During the initial protests, CNN’s Turkish affiliate airs a documentary about penguins instead of covering the uprising. They simply pretend nothing is wrong as the actual news is being broadcast via Twitter. Eventually, massive pressure forces CNN Turk to do its job and cover the events as they unfold.

The controversy surrounding NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden is also world news in June. It makes the debate on data, privacy and the internet more topical than ever. One of the most surprising conclusions is the fact that most Americans don’t really object to having their communications monitored by the NSA.

Also in June, Instagram launches Video in an attempt to counter the increasing popularity of Vine. On Vine you make 6-second videos that are inserted in a loop whereas Instagram makes it possible to record 15-second videos. Both concepts are similar yet still slightly different.

Several brands immediately jump on the bandwagon. Burberry is one of the first brands to make an Instagram video.


July is the month that Facebook decides to introduce TV commercials. The site now also makes it possible to embed messages on other sites. Facebook continues to grow in the first half of 2013. By July 2013, the site boasts 1.1 billion users, of which more than one in two use the mobile version. Revenue from mobile advertising is up 8% and now accounts for 31% of the total turnover.

Twitter is the fastest growing social network in the first half of the year. Twenty-one percent of the online population uses the popular tool. Twitter now totals 288 million active users.

LinkedIn also continues to grow with 20 million new users in the first six months of the year and good bottom-line numbers.


The use of media in the US reaches a historic milestone: for the first time in history, US adults spend more time using mobile devices than they do watching TV.

Other research shows that people are slowly but surely adjusting their internet behavior following the NSA revelations in June. Carefree surfers drop their carefree attitude and many feel they are unable to adequately protect their privacy.

The increasing number of smartphones and internet connections is turning internet access into a basic right for everyone on the planet. That is what the likes of Facebook, Samsung, Nokia, Qualcomm and Ericsson are saying. These companies forge a partnership in a bid to make the use of mobile internet affordable, especially in less prosperous regions. They need more internet users to sustain their own growth so they’re sparing no effort. The initiative is called

2013 is not only the year that Google retires the Google Reader. In August, they also abandon their famous 20% rule through which every Google employee could spend 20% of his or her time on innovation. The rule had always been one of the symbols that exemplified Google’s culture of innovation. In order to bring more focus to the innovations, the company now decides to implement a more targeted innovation policy.

And finally, August also illustrates the power of a tweet. One single tweet adds $17 billion to Apple’s value. When billionaire Carl Icahn sends a tweet about his investment in Apple, the company’s market cap jumps by $17 billion.


In September, the main social media news comes from Twitter when the company tweets (obviously) its intention to go public. The Twitter IPO is a fact and with the announcement the hype starts as well.

Twitter goes public but nearly explodes during the MTV awards. Miley Cyrus’ infamous performance generates more than 300,000 tweets per minute, putting her ‘show’ in the same category as the presidential elections or the final phase of the Superbowl.

Needless to say, Miley was very proud of her achievement!

September also sees the launch of ‘Grand Theft Auto 5’. The launch shows yet again how big the gaming industry has become. GTA5 breaks several world records. First-day sales for GTA5 exceed $800 million and it is the fastest game to gross $1 billion. More records: the largest turnover ever on the first day for any entertainment product, most viewed game trailer and best-selling video game in the first 24 hours of its release.

Also worth mentioning is Apple’s late September launch of iOS 7 to a mixed reception: many are disappointed, others are satisfied.


Following the announcement of the IPO, more details are published on Twitter’s financial situation. Last Thursday, the figures Twitter submitted to the American Securities and Exchange Commission in the run-up to the IPO were made public. While the microblog service realizes a sharp increase in turnover, the documents reveal that Twitter is still losing money. The company’s turnover nearly tripled last year to $316.9 million (€233.6 million). This is offset by a loss of $79.4 million (€58.5 million). The turnover in the first six months of 2013 amounts to $253.6 million (€186.9 million) as opposed to a negative result of $69.3 million (€51.1 million).

October is also the month of the ‘US government shutdown’. The government shuts down completely for several weeks. President Obama announces the shutdown on Twitter.

Meanwhile a symbiosis is clearly developing between Twitter and television. People like to tweet in front of the TV. The entire country watches live TV together nowadays. Comcast (US) capitalizes on this with the ‘see it’ app on Twitter. If someone posts a tweet on a fun show then you can watch that show live on the mobile device.

And finally, the digital age is also starting to affect traffic. In October 2013, the first driver is fined for wearing Google Glass behind the wheel.


Twitter’s IPO is probably the hottest social media topic in November. Contrary to Facebook, Twitter’s launch on Wall Street is a success. The share price soars 73% on the opening day. The initial share price is $26 but by the end of the day, one share is already worth $44.9, pushing the company’s value to some $25 billion. The course remains pretty stable over the next few days.

The euphoric reactions to Twitter’s IPO are abruptly silenced by typhoon Haiyan. The strongest typhoon ever to reach land wreaks havoc on the Philippines. The world rushes to the islands’ aid and Twitter is alight with declarations of support. The digital world wastes no time in launching support initiatives. Google launches a people finder, a tool to help friends and relatives locate potential victims and (hopefully) end the uncertainty.

Just a few more crazy figures for November: Facebook tries to buy Snapchat for $3 billion in an attempt to win back their youngest target group. Snapchat declines.

And gaming company King announces they’re going public. Their biggest hit is Candy Crush. By November 2013, the popular game has been downloaded a staggering 500 million times.


In December, we said goodbye to one of the greatest leaders the world has ever known. Nelson Mandela died on Thursday 5 December at 8.50pm. Like so many of you I heard the news on Twitter first. The news sites followed 15 minutes later. Practically every public figure on earth reacted on Twitter.

2013 is the year the world is introduced to a virtual currency: Bitcoin. Bitcoin becomes extremely popular due to the public’s growing distrust of the financial markets.

The value shoots up from next to nothing at the start of the year to more than $1,200 but the currency remains very volatile. On 7th December, for instance, the currency lost over 40% of its value in a single day. It’ll be exciting to see how Bitcoin will fare in 2014.

This was 2013

And that concludes my 2013 overview from a social media perspective. Please feel free to add your own highlights and experiences. Thank you for the inspiration and the many conversations throughout the year and I wish everyone a great holiday season and a fantastic start to the New Year! Thank you for visiting my blog in 2013 and really hope to see you back in 2014!

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