Facebook’s second annual “memology” study is upon us, and while world news held a strong presence (along with an unintentionally divisive pop star), ultimately the most repeated word across status updates was…. an acronym.
#10-#6: 2011, Airplanes, Miners/Mineros, Games on Facebook, Justin Bieber
We open this Top Ten with the least most-popular term of the year: “2011.” Obviously this should be a term that keeps growing in popularity as the New Year approaches and people send good wishes to their friends and family. “Airplanes” came in at #9, gaining an unusually large number of mentions thanks to B.o.B.’s international hit by the same name (for those who are bad at remembering song titles, check out the song here. I can guarantee you’ve heard it before.)
The incredible rescue of the 33 Chilean miners trapped underground for 69 days captured the world’s attention (and imagination) earlier this year, becoming the eighth most talked-about topic of 2010. The day they were all successfully rescued, the world stopped to follow the live transmission, and the usage rate of the word “mineros,” or miners, peaked as well. For the next term, Facebook lumped together different variations of “Games on Facebook,” which saw a soaring growth this year. The most popular sub-term in this category was “barn raising,” courtesy of FarmVille’s 27 million daily active users.
Rounding up the bottom-half of this Top Ten is Canadian teen pop-star Justin Beiber. His hit song “Baby” is one of the most watched YouTube videos of all time, and his debut at the 2010 MTV Music Awards attracted a spike of Facebook status updates with his name on it.
#5-2: Haiti, iPad/iPhone 4, Movies, World Cup
The impact of the earthquake in Haiti was felt almost instantaneously on Facebook, with people beginning to post about it within the first minute after it happened. About a day later, people were mentioning the words “earthquake” and its Spanish equivalent “terremoto” at a rate of 1,800 posts per minute.
On the other end of the news spectrum, the release of the iPhone 4 and the iPad became the fourth most popular discussion topic of the year, with “Movies” coming in at #3. While the fact that Haiti trended as hard as it did is a testament to the social utility of social media (with most traditional communication lines broken, locals rushed to Twitter and Facebook to upload videos and comments, while the world turned to these sites to get almost-instantaneous news updates), the “iPad” and “Movies” peaked high probably because something else motivates people to use Facebook: the need to express their opinion about something. Whether it was to hail the iPad as the best thing since…the iPhone, or to let the world know how amazing “Toy Story 3″ or the new Twilight movie was, everyone wanted to let their friends know how they felt about these things.
This is also what probably made the “World Cup” the almost-most-popular Facebook topic of 2010. Widely known to be the biggest sport event in the world, the World Cup in South Africa was one of the most dramatic and surprising editions ever (the United States’ great performance, big contenders like Brasil, France, and Italy being eliminated early on, the referees’ incompetent performances, and the list goes on). The final game between Spain and the Netherlands gathered around 1.3 million Facebook mentions, but at key points of certain matches almost 50% of all status updates mentioned the World Cup one way or another. Facebook’s massive worldwide presence and relevance becomes clear under this light.
#1: HMU (Hit Me Up)
Last year, FML (F–k My Life) took over everyone’s Facebook status, and for good reason: it was a great way to at once express frustration and remain humorous in the face of bad luck. 2010 saw the surge of HMU, or Hit Me Up, as a way to let your friends know when you are ready to meet up, talk to them on the phone, or hang out. According to Facebook, the acronym -which was seldom used in 2009- began growing aggressively last May, increasing in mentions by 75% every month. By the end of the summer, it was being used almost 80,000 times a day. Looking at the graph you can see that, after an initial surge, HMU usage rates become much more irregular. The reason? The people who mostly use HMU are high-schoolers and college kids, and so when the school year began, HMU became more of a weekend word.
I, for one, had never heard of HMU until right now. Had you? Are we getting old? How many of the Top Ten Global Status Trends will we not have the faintest idea about in 2011? Stay tuned, world.