2015: the year on Twitter


2015 was the year of the #FeesMustFall debate, the continuation of the #OscarPistorius trial and Karabo Mogane winning @IdolsSA. To mark the end of the year, we’ve delved into our data to create our annual ‘Year on Twitter’ roundup. You can relive some of the most influential moments and popular Tweets from around the world on 2015.twitter.com.

In 2015, Twitter acted as a real-time soundtrack to the biggest moments and events as they unfolded in the world. Whether it was the Rugby World Cup 2015 or general elections around the world, what happened in the world was simultaneously happening on Twitter.

Top trends in South Africa

We looked at the top South African events that created the biggest trends in 2015. These top trends were then sorted into categories such as music, TV, sport, news and more. Overall the data revealed South Africa to be a nation of news, sports and TV fans.

In the news category, the two of the top trending hashtags (#FeesMustFall and #NationalShutdown) sparked massive public debate and reached a global audience which saw students from around the world united. The State of the Nation Address, #SONA2015 was highly anticipated by many South Africans while the Democratic Alliance’s attempt at hosting a Twitter Townhall made the top 5 for wrong reasons as it was overtaken by South Africans who asked thousands of questions, the majority which were unrelated to the purpose of the Townhall.

• Fees Must Fall – #FeesMustFall
• SONA2015 – #SONA2015
• NationalShutdown – #NationalShutdown
• AskMmusi – #AskMmusi
• Loadshedding – #Loadshedding

South Africa is a sports-obsessed nation and this year was no different as some of the world’s biggest sporting events trended on Twitter. #RWC2015 took top spot as South Africa made it to the semi-finals and due to South Africa’s performance at this year’s Cricket World Cup #ProteaFire also trended. A country with a strong football following it was no surprise that #MUFC and #AbsaPrem made the top 5 as both of these were used by fans before, during and after matches. The highly competitive #SuperRugby tournament also made the top 5 as fans from South Africa and around the world used Twitter to support their favorite teams.

• RWC2015 (@rugbyworldcup) – #RWC2015
• ProteaFire (@officialCSA) – #ProteaFire
• AbsaPrem – #AbsaPrem
• SuperRugby (@superrugby) – #SuperRugby

Reality TV is top in South Africa, with 4 of the top 5 trending TV hashtags relating to reality series and shows.

• BB Mzansi – (@BBMzansi) – #BBMzansi
• Idols SA (@IdolsSA) – #IdolsSA
• Skeem Saam – (@SkeemSaam3) – #SkeemSaam
• Date My Family – #DateMyFamily
• Uzalo – (@Uzalo_SABC1) – #Uzalo

Year of the emoji
Last year on Twitter we saw 2014 as the year of the Selfie when Ellen DeGeneres Oscar Selfie went viral and became the most Retweeted Tweet ever. This year 2015 is being described as the year of the Emoji with ? face with tears of joy being the most popular emoji used on Twitter.

Other popular emojis used this year include ? smiling face with heart-shaped eyes, ? loudly crying face, ? smiling face with smiling eyes and ❤️red heart. Examples of the best use of Emojis on Twitter have even come from some very famous faces:

• Roger Federer Tweeted a whole Tweet based on emojis to tell his followers how his #DayOff would play out https://twitter.com/rogerfederer/status/617003890685251584
• Ellie Golding says it how it is with an Emoji to her followers https://twitter.com/elliegoulding/status/618175173129277440
• Andy Murray took to Twitter on his wedding day to share his emotions through the use of emojis https://twitter.com/andy_murray/status/586811114744320000
• NBA basketball player even had an emoji battle that took place on Twitter thanks to DeAndre Jordan https://twitter.com/twittermedia/timelines/618914838467600384

Twitter even launched a custom emoji for the #NBAAfricaGame which allowed fans to show their support for the first ever NBA game in Africa.

Most influential
In February the world witnessed one those beautiful moments made possible by the interconnected age we live in: someone posted a picture of a dress, and the Internet lost its collective mind. Was the dress black and blue, or was it white and gold? A photo of the same dress seen in different light suddenly went viral on Twitter and captured the attention of millions of people who marvelled at the optical illusion or delved into the science behind the apparent change of colours.

As people debated #BlueandBlack or #WhiteandGold, the dress sparked a global conversation, with more than 4.4M Tweets on February 26 and 27.

In South Africa, #FeesMustFall campaign is a good example of how Twitter can influence change. It saw students taking to Twitter to protest against an increase in tertiary fees in the 2017 financial year. This campaign created country-wide awareness of the issues and ultimately forced government to enforce a ‘no fee increase’ policy for 2017.

Most retweeted
Each year, we crown the most Retweeted Tweet of the year”. Each year this Tweet tells a different story about what message resonated with millions of Twitter users around the world.

This year, Harry Styles from One Direction took the top spot reaching out to his fans sending them love which became the most Retweeted Tweet of the year.

People also come to Twitter to get closer to their idols, Retweeting, liking and replying to messages from the accounts they follow. To discover the most popular Tweets of 2015, we looked at those that had the most Retweets at their peak from around the globe. Here are the top 10 Retweets of the year

• @Harry_Styles – When news broke that One Direction member Zayn Malik was parting ways with the group, Harry Styles expressed gratitude toward fans.
• @zaynmalik- One Directioner Zayn Malik Tweeted support to his former bandmates’ song “Drag Me Down”.
• @Real_Liam_Payne- As One Direction band members celebrated their five-year anniversary, Liam Payne thanked his bandmates for the journey.
• @POTUS – President Obama used Twitter to affirm his agreement with the Supreme Court’s ruling to legalize gay marriage in the US.
• @Louis_Tomlinson – Louis Tomlinson expressed love and gratitude to One Direction fans.
• @KingSalman – Shortly after King Salman was crowned King of Saudia Arabia, he sent a message of prayer and support to his people.
• @NiallOfficial – Niall Horan sends birthday fun to One Direction pal Liam Payne.
• @kanyewest – Kanye West Tweeted a simple inspirational message.
• @TheRealNimoy – This poignant message was Star Trek legend Leonard Nimoy’s last Tweet before he passed.
• @Caitlyn_Jenner – Caitlyn Jenner took to Twitter to introduce herself to the world.

Who joined
Throughout 2015 numerous VITs joined Twitter taking to Twitter to share their voice on the platform. This year @Caitlyn_Jenner joined Twitter breaking the world record reaching 1 million followers faster than @POTUS, she introduced herself to the world via a Vanity Fair cover reveal, which was Tweeted out with the hashtag #CallMeCaitlyn.

Image credit: Shutterstock

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