Celebrating the New Year with Twitter

Excitement’s building - like the pressure behind a champagne cork in the seconds before midnight - and as people prepare to celebrate the arrival of a new year, many are also considering their previous 12 months, planning for their next 12 and considering what sort of resolutions they’d like to institute to maximize their time in 2016.

Need some help with your own resolution? For reference, here’s a listing of the main topics of focus from last year, based on Twitter data:

Celebrating the New Year with Twitter | Social Media TodayNew Year’s celebrations are a big deal for Twitter. Tweet volumes see major spikes, so much so that Twitter's even crashed in years past because of the massive influx. The platform's worked to address this – these days Twitter’s well prepared for such a jump and has systems in place to cope – but with 320 million members worldwide, tweeting, on average, around 6,000 tweets per second on a normal day, the sheer amount of data flowing through Twitter as the clock hits midnight around the world is staggering. To give you some idea, here’s a data visualization of the fluctuations in tweet volume taken from New Year’s 2014.

Celebrating the New Year with Twitter | Social Media TodayYou can see those numbers hitting close to two million tweets – given its place as the ‘global town square’, it makes sense that people would turn to the micro-blog network to add their voice to the trending conversation and play a part in the worldwide party to welcome the new year.

To help with this, this yea Twitter'sr introducing a New Year’s themed firework emoji that'll automatically link to any tweets which use the hashtag ‘#HappyNewYear’. What’s more, the emoji will be available in 37 different language variations, enabling Twitter users around the world to join in the fun.

From Twitter’s announcement:

“This special celebration emoji will be unlocked when people include the hashtag#HappyNewYear in English – or one of over 35 other languages – at the end of their Tweet. Whether is it #felizanonovo#新年快樂#BonneAnnée or #frohesneuesJahr, we can unite using this icon to enjoy festivities as they unfold across the globe, and on Twitter.”

This is a great initiative from Twitter, providing a more inclusive message that a wider breadth of users can get behind. What’s more, it’ll also give Twitter volume data around how people in different nations are actually using the platform to celebrate the event, which could provide some interesting stats.

(Also worth noting - the emoji adds one more character to your tweet, so you’ll have one less to work with if you add the hashtag - it’ll appear as a space after the hashtag as you compose your message).

In addition to the New Year’s emoji, Twitter’s also partnering with the organizers of the iconic Times Square New Year’s Eve celebrations in New York to have real-time tweets displayed on the large screens directly underneath the Times Square Ball, as well as on other screens around the city for the million or so revelers taking part in the festivities.

“Further, the celebration will extend beyond those crowded blocks: Times Square New Year’s Eve shares content with broadcasters all over the world, and more than one billion people are expected to watch the historic ball drop on TV. Through this international display, we’ll be ringing in 2016 from Sydney to Honolulu and everywhere in between.”

This is a great opportunity for Twitter to generate engagement and involvement via their platform – just by using Twitter on the night and joining the New Year’s conversation, there’s a chance you could have your tweet broadcast across NYC. It’ll be interesting to how they leverage this element to try and boost awareness of Twitter in order to get more people tweeting as a result – as we know, user growth is a critical concern for the platform at this stage.

While Twitter has had a tough year - with the departure of the CEO, the long search for a replacement, and ongoing concerns about growth and expansion opportunities - there’s no debate that the platform hass become a key element in the wider communications landscape. Sure, it’s not for everyone, it hasn’t achieved the level of ubiquity that Facebook has been able to in that regard, but Twitter’s an extremely valuable network, and one which is still being used more and more every day.

Regardless of the doom and gloom, Twitter’s underlying performance has been relatively solid. User growth has slowed, but it’s still moving in the right direction. Revenue figures have continued their upward trend, even beating analyst estimates in the last quarter. While much of the coverage has focused on the slowdown in attracting new users – particularly in their biggest market, the US – there’s still a lot to like about the platform, and a lot of potential in tweets and tweet data.

Expect Twitter to keep pushing out new products and trying new things in 2016 – really, it’s the only way for the platform to move forward, they need to introduce new measures and try to move with trends in order to generate more interest and get new people to try out Twitter in the hopes they’ll become regular users. Additions like ‘Moments’ are interesting, if not ground-breaking, and ideas like an emoji response option will get traction because they appeal to a new audience – these are the types of things we’ll see more of. Twitter’s not ruling anything out at this stage – though I suspect any significant, fundamental changes, like a lifting of the 140 character limit, will take some real discussion before coming into effect.

Will Twitter evolve into something completely different in the new year? I doubt it, but hopefully we’ll see some new, significant changes that will enhance the user experience and help Twitter build upon its solid foundations in order to achieve future success. Barring that, expect to see suitors like Google and IBM watching on around mid-year if Twitter's performance hasn't picked up.

Here’s to 2016 in the world of tweets.

Time Square image via Todd Kreykes/Shutterstock

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