Every year the top social platforms and search engines publish a list of items that made the needle jump on their respective websites. When you look at these lists, there’s a trove of terrific insight into the recent history of our web habits. At the end of 2012 I compiled a list, which included things like the anti-piracy bills SOPA/PIPA, Kate Middleton, the Samsung Galaxy S3 and Obamacare. Most of the items from 2012 that made waves are still rippling. It’s important that we learn from history and so I present the top posts, tweets and search terms of 2013 that businesses should pay attention to.
/> Events – Added a relationship, got engaged, or got married: This might seem like an obvious event to add on Facebook, but as the editor of a marriage publication, it’s comforting to see that the top event on Facebook was the growth of new relationships—and in my case the growth in potential new readers. It’s considered that the Baby Boom 2.0 began in 1987 when 3.8 million kids were born; and in 2014 they’ll turn 27, the new sweet spot when men and women begin to get married in the United States.
Events – Added a family member, expecting or had a baby: The number six most popular event was about bringing a new person into the world. This is an interesting entry because it shows enthusiasm, even though the birth rate in the U.S. is near a record low, according to the latest report from U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. This is where numbers can be deceiving. It’s traditionally been considered a baby boom when 4 million kids are born in a year—the latest report shows 3.9 million kids were born. So while the rate is down, the numbers are good enough that businesses should still pay attention.
Events – Got a pet: There was another family member added that Facebookers got excited about. The American Pet Products Association estimates that the U.S. pet industries market expenditure in 2013 will pass $55 billion, up from $53 billion the year prior. The pet marketplace has been booming for well over a decade and doesn’t look to be slowing down anytime soon.
Most Talked About Topic (world) – Pope Francis: Even before the pope became Time magazine’s Person of the Year, people were talking about the new pontiff. The Catholic Church has been battling a long string of bad publicity and the pope has injected new life into the religion and has started a fresh conversation around our 21st century issues.
/> Top News Stories – Obamacare (Affordable Care Act): Obamacare made the list last year and I’d expect it to make the list in the future as citizens continue to adjust to the healthcare law changes. As a search term, Obamacare ranked 6th on Yahoo!. The White House has recently stated that more than 1 million people have gone online and enrolled, pushing the total number of people in the program (including those in state-run programs) past 2 million.
Search – Minecraft: If you’re into video games or have kids, you’re probably familiar with Minecraft. With more than 75 million users now playing in the world of simple block graphics, it gives hope to app developers out there who have a good idea, but are hesitant to compete with the industry behemoths who have deep pockets to produce photo-realistic graphics.
Search – iPhone 5: Another repeat entry from last year, Apple continues to hold mind share even though Google’s Android holds more market share. The iPhone 5s was introduced earlier in the year with a fingerprint scanner helping push biometric security more mainstream. Expect to see biometrics to gain even more steam in the upcoming year.
Top Obsessions – Bitstrips: While this is an obsession on Yahoo!, you’re probably more familiar with these Bitstrips filling up your Facebook feed. Bitstrips is an app that has been downloaded by more than 10 million people, which allows users to create their own caricatures and comic strips with just a few clicks. This is just the latest form of self expression and it will be interesting to see if this sticks or if something new comes along in the new year.
Hashtag – #CongratulationsTokyo: The International Olympic Committee selected Tokyo as the host city for the 2020 Summer Olympics. It’s still a ways away, but Americans have a long history of embracing Japanese culture, so don’t be surprised to see a fresh surge of interest as the games creep closer.
Tweets – Government Shutdown: Sorry to bring it up again, but it was a big deal on Twitter. The U.S. Government shutdown for 16 days and many fingers were pointed. We might look back at this event as the time when the fever broke in Washington. Already Congress has passed a budget that was signed by the president, which should help avoid another fiscal showdown in 2014.
Hashtag – #Inaguration: Politics is a hot topic on Twitter and many tweets went out for the start of President Obama’s second term. It’s been a rough year for the president in the opinion polls, in which case this hashtag can serve as a reminder for how quickly things can change—both positive and negative.
Tweets – DOMA and Prop 8 rulings: These tweets refer to the U.S. Supreme Court rulings on the Defense of Marriage Act and Proposition 8, which paved the way for gay marriage. To date, 18 states and Washington DC have now legalized gay marriage. With nearly 40% of the U.S. population living in a state where gay marriage is now legal, I expect gay marriage will continue to be a popular topic in the coming year and beyond.
Annual Event – Black Friday: We’ve just finished the fury of the holiday shopping season and people were clicking before they were swiping. The fact that Black Friday was one of the most searched terms on Google shows just how important this shopping day is for businesses. In fact, online sales on Black Friday reached $1.198 billion, according to web analytics firm ComScore.
Annual Event – Cyber Monday: When it comes to online sales, however, Cyber Monday rules. ComScore reports that online sales topped $1.74 billion this year. The holiday shopping season is a unique time where balance sheets get pushed into the black and the online community is actually searching for ways to spend their money.
Books – Lean In: Sheryl Sandberg is the chief operating officer of Facebook and her book “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead,” drove the conversation this year about women in the workplace. The book has been such a hit that the Lean In foundation has now been created, adding a new chapter to the movement.
Tech Gadgets – Playstation 4: Gamers rejoiced as the next-gen of video game/entertainment consoles arrived. Sony’s Playstation 4 ranked No. 1 in tech gadget searches, outpacing the Samsung Galaxy S4, Apple’s iPhone 5s and the iPad Air. In case you were wondering, Microsoft’s Xbox One didn’t crack the top 10. If you had given up on console-based video games (and all the accessories that go along with them), stay tuned because the newest battle for living room supremacy is just getting started.