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Top Twitter Trends of 2009

Now that Twitter employs a Chief Scientist, we will benefit from the ongoing interpretation and publishing of Twitter behavior and activity to better understand how Twitter is constantly evolving.

In a discussion with Robert Scoble recently, I suggested that Twitter also consider hiring a digital anthropologist or sociologist, to not only analyze and comprehend data, but also effectively observe cultures and shifts within this burgeoning online society in order to participate in and ultimately shape its transformation.

As shared in Twitter’s post announcing this year’s top trends:

Twitter’s Trending Topics helped us understand what was happening around the world showing us that people everywhere can be united in concern around important events; excited about a new movie; or geek-out about a major new technology.

Twitter is indeed a human seismograph, a reflection of current events as well as a real-time indicator of our focus and attention. Whether we agree or align with Twitter’s trending topics, they do in fact represent popular interest at any given time. In 2009, Twitter’s data concentrated on one particular topic that also demonstrated how diversified cultures, societies, beliefs, and politics can converge into one global community.

Among all the keywords, hashtags, and phrases that proliferated throughout the year, one topic surfaced repeatedly. Twitter users found the Iranian elections the most engaging topic of the year. The terms #iranelection, Iran and Tehran were all in the top-21 of Trending Topics, and #iranelection finished in a close second behind the regular weekly favorite #musicmonday.

If for but a moment, through services such as Twitter, we become one…

As a seismograph detects and records the intensity, direction, and duration of a movement, Twitter captures the activity and reaction of people around events as they happen. In practically every instance, a spark triggered a social tsunami of tweets and retweets that echoed into history books of socialized media.

Twitter Trends of 2009

News Events

1. #iranelection
2. Swine Flu
3. Gaza
4. Iran
5. Tehran
6. #swineflu
7. AIG
8. #uksnow
9. Earth Hour
10. #inaug09


1. Michael Jackson
2. Susan Boyle
3. Adam Lambert
4. Kobe (Bryant)
5. Chris Brown
6. Chuck Norris
7. Joe Wilson
8. Tiger Woods
9. Christian Bale
10. A-Rod (Alex Rodriguez)


1. Harry Potter
2. New Moon
3. District 9
4. Paranormal Activity
5. Star Trek
6. True Blood
7. Transformers 2
8. Watchmen
9. Slumdog Millionaire
10. G.I. Joe

TV Shows

1. American Idol
2. Glee
3. Teen Choice Awards
4. SNL (Saturday Night Live)
5. Dollhouse
6. Grey’s Anatomy
7. VMAS (Video Music Awards)
8. #bsg (Battlestar Galatica)
9. BET Awards
10. Lost

Sports (Teams, Events, Leagues)

1. Super Bowl
2. Lakers
3. Wimbledon
4. Cavs (Cleveland Cavaliers)
5. Superbowl
6. Chelsea
7. NFL
8. UFC 100
9. Yankees
10. Liverpool


1. Google Wave
2. Snow Leopard
3. Tweetdeck
4. Windows 7
5. CES
6. Palm Pre
7. Google Latitude
8. #E3
9. #amazonfail
10. Macworld

Hash Tags

1. #musicmonday
2. #iranelection
3. #sxsw
4. #swineflu
5. #nevertrust
6. #mm
7. #rememberwhen
8. #3drunkwords
9. #unacceptable
10. #iwish

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110 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “Top Twitter Trends of 2009”

  1. Tosk59 says:

    “… ultimately shape its transformation …” How exactly, in what direction, and for whose benefit? Seismographs measure but do not “shape” as an end user why would I want a Twitter employee to shape anyuthing?

    • briansolis says:

      there's a difference between measurement of activity and the interpretation of behavior. I suggest that analyzing and potentially enhancing experiences could shape things in ore meaningful ways.

    • Tosk59 says:

      OK, guess I “over-interpreted” your comment. I took the “its” in the sentence “… ultimately shape its transformation…” as referring to the “culture' and “burgeoning online society” as opposed to the tool itself (i.e. Twitter) and how it presents them. As such was wondering why that was a good idea….

      Mea culpa

  2. Great observations Brian. The more mainstream Twitter becomes and the more people use it, the better we can hone in on societal shifts as they occur. Seeing these trends in context – geographic, time, etc. – can aid in interpretation as well. Combining these trending topics with links to relevant sources of additional information, or showing the most RT'd links that are trending for those topics would also be awesome.

  3. Shari Weiss says:

    I tweeted about Adam Lambert, Susan Boyle, American idol, and Glee on the list . . . and a lot about Avatar, which apparently came out too late to make the list.

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