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Rio Olympics, T20 WC dominated Twitter in 2016

MUMBAI: Sports dominated Twitter conversations in 2016. Seven out of top 10 hashtag trends came from sporting events.

Incidentally, the seven top hashtag trends are from ICC Twenty20 World Cup and Rio Olympics.

Badminton star PV Siddhu, who had won hearts of sports fans with her spirited fight in Olympics 2016, is the only individual in the top 10 hashtags as the rest of the top 10 hashtags are event related.

Even as cricket dominated the list with most hashtags, it was #Rio2016 that was the top hashtag in 2016. PV Sindhu, Sakshi Malik and Dipa Karmakar, India’s women athletes who won a million hearts on Twitter during the Olympics, made #Rio2016 the Top Hashtag Trend of the Year on Twitter. Sakshi Malik and Dipa Karmakar, along with actor Kamal Haasan, were the new influential accounts on the microblogging platform.

The findings are part of Twitter’s annual trend report on what dominated the Twitter chatter in 2016.

The Narendra Modi government’s demonetisation reform was the most influential moment of the year. The list of influential moments also includes Delhi’s rising pollution problem, the debut of Global Citizen Festival in India and Bollywood glam at the Filmfare Awards.

Virat Kohli’s tweet in support of Anushka Sharma was the Golden Tweet or the most Retweeted Tweet of 2016. He encouraged his fans and critics, who attributed his outstanding performance in the ICC World T20 to their break-up, to focus instead on empathy and community building.

Virat Kohli's Tweet in support of Anushka Sharma

Here’s a closer look at the #YearOnTwitter in 2016 for India:

Top hashtag trends on Twitter in 2016

Hashtags are the anchors of any solid conversation; they enable users to discover and participate in what others are talking about for an issue they care about. With seven of the top 10 hashtags this year related to the #Rio2016 Olympics and #WT20 cricket, sports dominated the trending Twitter conversations for the nation. The government’s flagship programme #MakeInIndia is also one of the most popular Hashtag Trends of the year with its global appeal.


1. #Rio2016

All conversations surrounding this exciting sporting global moment converged on Twitter, as Indians tweeted using the #Rio2016 hashtag. The hashtag united the country in this moment of national prominence and the tweets reflected the pride, thrill and joy of Indians everywhere as Indian athletes won medals at the Olympics and received well-deserved cheers on the platform.

2. #IndvsPak

The two national teams enthralled fans with a cut-throat match in the group stage of the ICC WT20 tournament. The cricket mania took Twitter by storm as aficionados from either side of the border tweeted fervently with #IndvsPak to join the conversation on the platform on 19 March.

3. #WT20

The apex international championship of Twenty20 cricket was religiously tweeted about by the nation’s ardent cricket lovers. Fans rejoiced at every six and coped together with every wicket by using the #WT20 hashtag from 15 March until 3 April.

4. #IndvsAus

India battled it out against the Aussies in the group stage of the WT20 tournament. Enthusiastic Indians tweeted their support for the national team with the #IndvsAus hashtag and celebrated the national win when India beat Australia on 27 March.

5. #MakeInIndia

The Government of India uses Twitter to promote their flagship #MakeInIndia programme that encourages companies to manufacture their products in India. It shared updates on new deals, joint ventures and tech transfers using this hashtag around the world. Large corporations as well as SMBs across various verticals also tweeted regarding developments related to this global #MakeInIndia initiative.

6. #IndvsWI

India vs West Indies was the penultimate knockout semi-final game in the WT20 tournament. #IndvsWI trended all day on 31 March and tweets regarding the much anticipated match took over the Twitter timeline. West Indies won the match and millions of broken-hearted Indians still stood strong with Team India, in a display of true passion.

7. #IndvsBan

Indians around the world were united with #IndvsBan as fans tweeted to fellow cricket lovers and joined the conversation on 23 March. India clinched the thrilling WT20 match by defeating Bangladesh by 1 run and Twitter reflected the sentiments of this joyous moment.

8. #PVSindhu

India’s 1.2 billion people stood behind PV Sindhu (@Pvsindhu1) as she set out to compete against world #1 Carolina Mari in the Olympic Badminton Women’s Final. She became the first Indian woman to win a silver medal at the Olympics and Indians took to Twitter to congratulate her. #PVSindhu became an inspiring story for women empowerment as young women, mothers, and well-known women icons in India came together on Twitter to celebrate her victory.

9. #surgicalstrike

Debates and discussions ensued on Twitter after the Indian Army carried out a surgical strike against Pakistan on 29 September, following the Uri Attack. The nation stood divided in favour of or against this choice of action that led to a significant number of casualties of Indian soldiers.

10. #JNU

Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union (JNUSU) president Kanhaiya Kumar was slapped with sedition charges and arrested on 13 February for a speech he gave at an event held on campus to mark the third anniversary of terror convict Afzal Guru’s hanging. The #JNU hashtag took Twitter by storm as people debated over serious issues such as condemning freedom of speech that this arrest reflected.

Most influential moments on Twitter in 2016

Twitter is where Indians go to see what’s happening everywhere in the world right now. From breaking news and entertainment to sports and politics – across big events to everyday interests with all the live commentary that makes Twitter special. These are the most influential moments on Twitter – where Indians went first to ask questions, get answers or share ideas about the biggest conversations happening in India and the world throughout 2016.


1. Modi’s demonetisation scheme

On 8 November, Prime Minister Narendra Modi (@NarendraModi) announced the demonetisation of Rs 500 and 1000 currency notes to fight against black money and corruption in India. The move impacted the majority of Indians and Twitter continues to resonate with their opinions and debates over the currency ban. The platform recorded 650,000 tweets in 24 hours following the announcement and millions more tweets in the following weeks. The magnitude of these conversations by experts as well as common people put the global spotlight on India.

2. Women athletes at Rio 2016

India united on Twitter to support and praise these top women athletes during #Rio2016. It was girl power all the way for India at the Summer Olympics and fans came together like never before to publicly voice their gratitude to India’s star performers. Twitter recorded millions of tweets for these moments of national pride as part of the global conversation for #Rio2016 from 5 to 21 August. These victories saw Sindhu (@Pvsindhu1), Sakshi (@SakshiMalik) and Dipa (@DipaKarmakar) rise as individuals beating the odds and excelling at sports, consecutively emerging as an inspiration to millions of women around the world.

3. INDvPAK at WT20

On 19 March, #INDvPAK trended all day on Twitter in India and globally, and more than 1.1 million tweets were recorded, making it the most tweeted T20 International match ever, beating the earlier record of the recent Asia Cup match between India and Pakistan where more than 670,000 tweets were sent. With his fantastic innings in a tight run-chase, Virat Kohli (@imVkohli) became the most mentioned player of this #WT20 match on Twitter.

4. Delhi Pollution

The capital city’s escalating pollution levels all year have seen citizens take to Twitter to express their worries, share photos of smog-filled streets, and find solutions. At the start of the year, the government implemented the Odd-Even scheme, impounded diesel vehicles and banned fire crackers during Diwali to improve air quality levels. Like every winter, the pollution levels continued to escalate in Delhi this November leading to worries of severe health hazards amongst citizens.

5. India celebrates Diwali

Indians across the world celebrated the biggest and brightest festival via tweets, photos and videos of sweets, fire crackers, festive clothes and more from 30 October until 2 November. This year, thousands of Indians also participated in a Twitter Poll by @TwitterIndia to choose the colour of the ‘diya’ Twitter emoji, eventually choosing the orange version for the #HappyDiwali hashtag.

6. INDvAUS at WT20

One of the most exciting games of #WT20 was the do-or-die, winner-takes-all clash between India and Australia on 27 March. Virat Kohli (@imVkohli) scored 47 runs in the last five overs, hitting seven boundaries and a six, and the moment he hit the winning runs to secure India’s passage to the semi-finals was the most-tweeted moment of #WT20. With 973K tweets recorded during the match, this was the second most tweeted match during #WT20.

7. International Day of Yoga

The 2nd International Day of Yoga on 21 June was celebrated by yoga enthusiasts in India and across the world on Twitter. The ‘asana’ emoji was a delight for people celebrating the day and the platform lit up with invigorating photos and videos from the yoga community, even as remote as the Siachen glacier!

8. Global Citizen India

On 19 November, British rock band Coldplay and American hip-hop artist Jay Z performed for the first time in India as part of the Global Citizen Festival India 2016 in Mumbai. As Coldplay frontman Chris Martin performed a duet with AR Rahman for ‘Vande Mataram’, the electric moment lit up on Twitter with videos and photos from the 80,000 screaming fans reaching a global audience. The concert’s energy resonated on Twitter as fans gushed over the event that connected global and Indian music cultures.

9. India celebrates Ganesh Chaturthi

Indians across communities, including celebrities, sport stars and politicians celebrated the cultural moment on the platform with colourful tweets, greetings, photos and videos from 5 to 16 August. This year, Twitter announced a special Lord Ganesha Twitter emoji for the first time. The special emoji was a pleasant surprise and an instant hit amongst Indians worldwide, who made #GaneshChaturthi emerge as one of the top Global Trends during the festive period, recording nearly half a million tweets.

10. Filmfare Awards

For the 61st Filmfare Awards on 15 January, Twitter provided a front row seat to fans across the world. Bollywood fans flocked to Twitter to follow the live and exciting #OnlyOnTwitter conversation as the awards unfolded: real-time results of the winners, exclusive behind-the-scenes moments, live news broadcasts from the red carpet, exclusive videos and photos, and more. All of this made the Filmfare Awards the most talked about Indian award show of the year on Twitter.

New influential accounts on Twitter in 2016

As the Twitter flock continues to grow, here are some of the notable people who joined Twitter in 2016:

1. Kamal Haasan (@ikamalhaasan): Tamil superstar Kamal Hassan graced his fans on Twitter with his presence by joining the platform on Republic Day. The actor made a memorable First Tweet with a video of him singing the National Anthem, composed by veteran music director Ilayaraja. Kamal garnered over 30,000 followers in 24 hours which was a reflection of the admiration and support he receives from his fans.

2. Sakshi Malik (@SakshiMalik): India’s pride Sakshi Malik joined Twitter earlier this year. She made waves on the platform with her performance at the Rio Olympic Games by clinching the bronze medal in wrestling. Her video tweet where she is thanking her fans was also her Most Retweeted Tweet.

3. Dipa Karmakar (@DipaKarmakar): Dipa Karmakar, the first Indian female gymnast ever to compete in the Olympics joined Twitter during the Rio games. She took to Twitter to connect with her supporters and wished them a Happy Independence Day in her Most Retweeted Tweet.

Twitter is also offering a year-end special emoji so people can share the biggest moments and memories of 2016. If you tweet with #ThisHappened hashtag from now until 5 January 2017, the special Twitter emoji will come with your tweet.