The Year in Social Media: 2016

A year that will not be easy to forget for the good as well as the... not so good, 2016 was a remarkable year. The world of social media very much reflects this, its usage and influence have grown and shows no signs of slowing down. Celebrities, politicians and businesses all embraced its power and made 2016 the year that social media deeply permeated every corner of modern life.

We thought it would be fun to take a light-hearted look back on the big winners on social media this past year and perhaps take a glimpse ahead to what 2017 has in store for us.


2016 was a big year for Instagram with a few distinguished new users, including Pope Francis making history as the first pontiff to take to the image sharing platform. His first post got a huge response of over 328,000 likes and it is no surprise that he has quickly amassed over 3 million followers, we're sure this will continue to grow. Other notable new users for instagram included the football legend Pele and Kanye West.

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A photo posted by Selena Gomez (@selenagomez) on

When it comes to well-established Instagram users in 2016 there is one clear stand-out, the singer and actress Selena Gomez. She may have recently taken a break from social media but that hasn't affected her position as the undoubted Queen of Instagram. She has over 103 million followers and made 8 out of the top 10 most liked posts of the year, with the number 1 post gaining over 6 million likes.

If Selena is the Queen then who is the King? Well, the remaining 2 posts in Instagrams top 10 of the year were made by footballer and recent Ballon D'or winner Cristiano Ronaldo, both images of him came in the aftermath of him captaining Portugal to winning the Euro 2016 Championship.


Another record year for Facebook as it continues to dominate the social media landscape. Around the world there are over 1.18 billion users active on Facebook every day, a 17% increase that underlines its enduring popularity. Facebook is the only social media platform that comes close to the likes of google in terms of advertising revenue, making almost $6bn in profit over the first three quarters of this year, a big improvement on the $3.69bn in 2015.

As the numbers we have already seen tell us, Facebook is somewhere that people touch base with on a regular basis and they talk about the things that matter to them. Just a few of the hot topics from the top 10 of 2016 include the phenomenon of Pokemon Go, the 2016 Olympic Games, the Super Bowl.

Facebook also reflects the outpouring of grief from many at the sad passing of iconic legends such as Muhammed Ali and David Bowie who both feature on the list. Of course we cannot ignore the role Facebook played in politics as the US Presidential Election takes top spot on the list, while Brexit also features, both topics that drew sustained and intense discussion.


Like Facebook and Instagram, Twitter's number of users continues to grow, by the end of 2016's 3rd quarter it had 317 million active users every month. Twitter is used by a wide range of people and organisations for varied reasons and it continues to be very much on the pulse of world events.

You might expect that the top tweet of 2016 would be from a prominent celebrity or perhaps a politician given the incredible events of this year, but you'd be wrong. The undeniable top dog on twitter in 2016 was a Spanish YouTube gamer going by the name 'elrubius' who gained well over 1.3 retweets and over a million likes for the simple message 'LIMONADA'. How did he do this? He offered prizes to everyone that retweeted.

The runners-up were a little more familiar with Harry Styles of One Direction tweeting Taylor Swift lyrics on his birthday: 'I don't know about you, but I'm feeling 22.' and Hillary Clinton, who in the wake of her election defeat tweeted the inspirational 'To all the little girls watching... never doubt that you are valuable and powerful & deserving of every chance & opportunity in the world.'

The top global hashtags of the year feature much that will be familiar, from sports events #Rio2016 & #Euro2016 to cultural phenomenons #GameOfThrones & #PokemonGo and of course politics #BlackLivesMatter & #Brexit.

Looking Ahead to 2017

Predicting what will be big in social media is incredibly difficult as it is often closely linked to world events, and who could have predicted what 2016 would throw at us?! One thing we're fairly certain of is social media will continue to play a key role in everyday life for people around the world, providing reporting and reaction from events around the world as they happen.

Oh, and one more thing from one of the masters of twitter...


Website Editor