the social media statistics that fueled the biggest topics of 2014Before 2014 ended, we shared with you The Most Popular Social Media Posts of 2014. The majority of the content was funny (see: mutant spider dog) or evoked “awwww’s” from audiences all around (see: Holiday Minions). The adorable side of viral shared content differed greatly from The Topics of The Year, Facebook’s list of 10 moments that dominated our conversations in 2014. For many of us, the World Cup ignited our passions, The Ebola outbreak spread fear nationwide, the conflict in Gaza elicited our sympathies–each and every one of these moments contributed in shaping our entire year. How significant were these moments exactly? Read on for the social media statistics that fueled the biggest topics of 2014.

1. FiFA World Cup 2014

In September, FiFA released dizzying numbers for the World Cup. Attendance for the 64 matches totaled 3,429,873, the highest recorded at any World Cup since USA 1994. The average crowd of 53,592 was also the highest in two decades. 5,154,386 attended FIFA Fan Fests in Brazil, with Rio de Janeiro’s spectacular Copacabana site attracting 937,330–the highest number in any individual city.

On top of record attendance, The 2014 FIFA World Cup is also the biggest social event in web history.

Facebook Statistics of The FiFA World Cup 2014

  • 350 million people joined the conversation
  • 3 billion interactions (posts, comments, and likes)
  • Germany vs. Argentina (on July 13), broke the record for the highest level of Facebook conversation for any single sporting event in history with 88 million people generating more than 280 million interactions (#2 was The Super Bowl XLVII on Feb 3, 2013 with 245 million interactions).

Twitter Statistics of The FiFA World Cup 2014

  • 672 million Tweets sent related to the 2014 #WorldCup
  • Fans sent 618,725 tweets per minute when Germany won the #WorldCupFinal
  • During the semi-final between Brazil (@CBF_Futebol) and Germany (@DFB_Team), fans sent more than 35.6 million Tweets — a new Twitter record for a single event

Instagram Statistics of The FiFA World Cup 2014

  • FIFA’s Instagram account rocketed from 42,000 followers to nearly 1 million in 31 days.
  • Seven of the 10 most-followed World Cup players on Instagram hail from Brazil,
  • Neymar was the most followed player with 8.8 million fans

2. Ebola Virus Outbreak

The most widespread outbreak of Ebola in history occurred in 2014. However, as far as the United States is concerned, Ebola was more of a social media pandemic than it was ever a widespread disease on its own. The major symptom of the Ebola virus outbreak in America is, but certainly not limited to, sharing half truths and whole rumors (often times in 140 characters or less).

The lack of accurate information on a subject new to many Americans spread much faster than the virus ever did–so much so that health professionals and medical experts took to the root of the problem in attempts to quell public panic. For example, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) held Q+A’s on Twitter, and actively sought to address concerns.

In spite of enabling social frenzy, social media also enabled researchers to track the spread of Ebola in real-time, often before new cases were reported by the World Health Organization. One source,, uses current feeds from social media, news aggregators, and Twitter conversations, combined with official public health reports, to create real-time surveillance maps. The surveillance system is meant to bring aid to people in the most need as soon as possible, but also to educate the general public about where the risk truly is.

These two charts show the spikes in tweets about Ebola are not correlated with death toll (quite the opposite). Rather, it aligns much better with the release of news headlines.

Twitter Statistics on Ebola Virus Outbreak 2014

Twitter Statistics on Ebola Virus Outbreak 2014

3. Elections in Brazil

2014’s presidential election in Brazil was one of the most discussed and hotly elections debated in the country’s history. Initially, no candidate secured the required 50% majority, which resulted in a runoff between incumbent Dilma Rousseff and Aécio Neves. Rousseff narrowly beat Neves to glean the presidential seat.

The significance of social media in Brazil’s 2014 Presidential election stemmed from two things:

  1. The sheer number of Brazilian usage statistics of social media.
    Brazil ranks 5th for total internet users (107,822,831*)
    3rd for Facebook users with 65% of internet users on Facebook (89 million)
    5th for Twitter users (10.3 million)

To put this into perspective, here is a chart of five countries with the largest numbers of internet users and their respective facebook and twitter presence (China uses a comparable service called weibo).
Facebook and Twitter Presence of Largest Internet Using Countries

    2. Electoral laws in Brazil limits daily airtime on TV and radio for candidates, but social media is an unlimited platform.
    3.The presidential candidates’ adoption and reliance on social media to conduct their campaigning.

And without ado, here are the big social media statistics for Brazil’s Presidential Election of 2014:

Facebook Statistics of Elections in Brazil

  • 89 million of 109 million internet users in Brazil were on Facebook
  • President Dilma Rousseff more than tripled her Facebook following from half a million to more than 2.3 million
  • Aécio Neves quadrupled his number of Facebook followers, surpassing the president’s following and reaching around 4.6 million
  • 48 million people on Facebook in Brazil had 674 million interactions around the election.
  • There were nearly 700 million election interactions on Facebook during Brazil’s presidential campaign (nearly 3 times more than during India’s election)
  • During the final debate, there were 19.9 million Facebook interactions with 6.6 million comments/minute and 36.6 million interactions/minute
  • On the day of the runoff, more than 49 million Facebook interactions took place

Twitter Statistics of Elections in Brazil

  • Nearly 40 million election-related tweets during the campaign, with 4.2 million tweets occurring on runoff day alone
  • The final presidential debate generated over 2 million tweets
  • The most commonly discussed election issues were health, followed by education, security, and the economy.Twitter Brasil mapped global tweets about the candidates during the campaign (bel0w).

4. Robin Williams

In August 2014, actor and entertainer Robin Williams passed away. The tragic irony of suicide by a man millions grew up laughing with shocked the nation. Fans, public figures, and celebrities across the nation mourned together and found solace in grieving with millions of others who understood their sadness. Social media not only allowed people to pay tribute to Robin Williams, but it was also leeway to openly grieve and mourn, a practice we were taught to do privately.

Facebook Statistics for Robin Williams

  • Within 24 hours of Williams’ death, 100 million interactions happened on Facebook

Twitter Statistics for Robin Williams

  • #riprobinwilliams 2.4 million tweets
  • Most tweeted films: Mrs. Doubtfire (440,000), Good WIll Hunting (133,000), Jumanji (400,000), Aladdin (185,000)
  • In the immediate aftermath of the news of Mr. Williams’s death, the number of tweets about him quickly spiked to about 63,000 tweets/minute

Instagram Statistics for Robin Williams

  • 438000 posts tagged #riprobinwilliams (as of 12/31/2014)

More interesting statistics: Robin Williams’ death sparked an intense editing war on his Wikipedia page, resulting in servers going down. Here are the mobile and regular traffic spikes of the English Wikipedia prior to his death and leading to when the news hit. Eventually the page was closed off to only administrators, and traffic returned to normal.
English Wikipedia after the death of Robin Williams
English Wikipedia after the death of Robin Williams

5. Ice Bucket Challenge

After the Ice Bucket Challenge began in July, the stunts quickly took over the nation. Friends and family alike challenged each other to dump ice water on their heads to spread ALS awareness and to encourage donations for research. No one can deny this campaign reached unprecedented levels in participation.

114 million dollars was raised from July 29-Sept 22, over 40x the same timespan in 2013. The staggering and unanticipated participation led to plenty of speculation as to the key factors of the campaign’s success. The consensus seems to be the campaign’s simplicity, urgency (24 hour deadline), and opportunity for everyone to be the center of attention. With social media channels as mediums, every participant was able to carve for themselves a place in the one thing everyone was talking about.

Facebook Statistics of The Ice Bucket Challenge

  • Between June and September, the world shared more than 17 million Ice Bucket Challenge videos on Facebook
  • 440 million people viewed the videos more than 10 billion times
  • Boston is at the epicenter

Instagram Statistics of The Ice Bucket Challenge

  • 3.7 million videos uploaded with the hashtags #ALSicebucketchallenge and #icebucketchallenge.
  • Justin Bieber’s video has been the most popular (about one million “likes”)

Twitter Statistics of The Ice Bucket Challenge

  • ALS Twitter followers had increased from 8,975 in early July to 21,100
  • July 1 – August 31, 2014 the Ice Bucket Challenge generated 15.5 million mentions
  • #ALSIceBucketChallenge, #IceBucketChallenge and “Ice Bucket Challenge” totaled 21 million mentions between the beginning of August to sept

use of #icebucketchallenge on twitter
Youtube Statistics of The Ice Bucket Challenge

  • 6.2 million videos uploaded on youtube
  • Top youtube views as of 8/21 (in millions):
    Bill Gates 11.91
    Charlie Sheen 11.53
    Robert Downey Jr. 4.93
    Paul Bissonette 3.99
    Jimmy Fallon 2.55
    Chris Pratt 2.51
    Triple H 2.2
    Marcelo 2.17
    conan 1.61
    Dr. Dre 1.41

6. Conflict in Gaza

In July, ongoing tension between Israelis and Palestinians erupted into a conflict that lasted seven weeks. Both sides agreed to an open-ended ceasefire on August 22, 2014.

Access to social media in all corners of the world continues to change the way people understand war. Sites such as Twitter, YouTube and Facebook were inundated with posts from both sides seeking to win the hearts and minds of people in the Middle East and elsewhere in the world.

Twitter Statistics of The Conflict in Gaza

  • In the eight days leading up to Operation Protective Edge, #GazaUnderAttack was used over 375,000 times
  • #GazaUnderAttack used in more than 4 million posts, compared to the nearly 200,000 for #IsraelUnderFire.(7/22)

Facebook Statistics of The Conflict in Gaza

  • Users were asked to “donate their status” to automatically display a real-time tally of rockets hitting southern Israel or a running count of the Palestinian dead and wounded. Friends and acquaintances of a ‘status donor’ would see a gripping reminder of the conflict, such as “9:30pm: 2 Hamas rockets hit Israel. Total today: 34. Total since the year 2000: 8706,” in place of a normal status like, “John is at soccer practice.” The Jerusalem Post reported that 10,000 users signed up to display the “Qassam Count” in the conflict’s first three days.

7. Malaysia Airlines

Malaysia Airlines suffered two tragic incidents in 2014 when Flight 370 and Flight 17 were both lost within months of each other. In March, Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, disappeared along with 239 passengers aboard, resulting in one of the biggest mysteries in aviation history. Four months later, Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 crashed in the Ukraine with 298 people on board.

Facebook Statistics for Malaysia Airlines
Maylaysia airlines facebook fan growth

Malaysia airlines facebook page daily engagement rate

Twitter Statistics for Malaysia Airlines

  • Within 2 weeks, 4 million tweets containing #mh370
  • Twitter jumped by almost 20% between March 8 and 9
    Malaysia Airlines @mas twitter follower growth

8. Super Bowl

In February, the Seattle Seahawks dominated Super Bowl XLVIII, and beat the Denver Broncos 43-8.

The topic of super bowls cannot be mentioned without including the advertising frenzy surrounding it. At times, the ads can be as important as the sporting event itself. Advertisers have quickly caught on that Super Bowl advertising campaigns can’t simply start and end with the game. According to YouTube, 2013 gameday commercials that ran on the site prior to the Super Bowl were viewed 3.4 times more often than those that weren’t over the course of the following year.

This year’s big game was the most-viewed television event in US history, and NBC is seeking $4.5 million per 30-second ad slot for 2015.

Facebook Statistics of The Super Bowl

  • 50 million people joined the Super Bowl conversation on Facebook
  • Over 185 million interactions about the Big Game, including the teams, players, coaches and key plays.
  • 650, 757 posts were about Super Bowl ads

Twitter Statistics of The Super Bowl

  • 583,152 tweets about Super Bowl ads
  • 24.9 million tweets around the Super Bowl during the game, up slightly from 24.1 million last year.
  • Peak point: @Percy_Harvin 87 yard kickoff return for a TD to open 3rd quarter (8:32pm EST) with 381,605 TPM
  • The halftime show (8:09-8:22pm EST) featuring @BrunoMars and the @ChiliPeppers generated over 2.2 million Tweets
  • Of the national ads that aired during the game, approximately 58% featured a hashtag, up from 50% last year.

Instagram Statistics of The Super Bowl
Instagram Statistics of Super Bowl 2014
Instagram Statistics of Super Bowl 2014
Youtube Statistics of The Super Bowl

  • The winners of “Ad Blitz” are the most popular commercials from votes on YouTube’s special site. The voters picked these Top Five ads from the 48 ads that were included in their poll.
    Budweiser’s “Puppy Love”
    Coca-Cola’s “America is Beautiful”
    Chrysler “Detroit – Bob Dylan”
    Duracell “Trust your power” Derrick Coleman
    Jaguar “British Villains ‘Rendezvous’”

9. Michael Brown/Ferguson

The shooting of Michael Brown, an 18-year-old unarmed teenager, by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, led to protests and heated discussions nationwide. Civilians took to social media to not only voice their opinions on the controversial issue, but also to swiftly organize demonstrations in support.

Twitter Statistics for Michael Brown/Ferguson

  • #BlackLivesMatter: More than 18 million Tweets about the#Ferguson protests in August
  • 3.6 million tweets about a week after the killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown.
  • In the hours following the grand jury’s decision in November, there were 3.5 million Tweets across the U.S.

Most talked about stories by audience

Facebook Statistics for Michael Brown/Ferguson

  • A random sample of 100,000 U.S. Facebook users’ public timelines showed 3,250 were talking about Ferguson in their posts and activities from Aug. 9 to Aug. 20, according to an analysis by Portage, a Minneapolis-based social analytics and educational company. That amounted to about 3.3% of Facebook users sampled.
    In contrast, 7,703 were talking about the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, or 7.7% of the sample, for the same period.*

Facebook ferguson ice bucket challenge posts
*caveat: facebook algorithms use post-data on your likes, preferences, and interactions to determine the content on your newsfeed versus the free-for-all ground of twitter

10. Sochi Olympics

In February, the Olympic torch arrived in Sochi, Russia, signifying the start of the 22nd Winter Olympic Games. This year’s Winter Games were estimated to have reached billions of people in more than 200 countries.

Facebook Statistics of The Sochi Olympics

  • From the sporting events to the athletes, 120 million interactions took place on Facebook during the Games.
  • The U.S. Olympic Team of more than 200 athletes was the most active of all nations on social media in Sochi. It totaled 22,598 posts across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, according to the USOC. Canada (15,716) and Great Britain (9,867) were next highest.
    social media top athletes sochi 2014

social media top sports sochi 2014

Twitter Statistics of The Sochi Olympics

  • These were the most-mentioned sports on Twitter during the Games:
    1. Ice Hockey
    2. Curling
    3. Figure Skating
    4. Bobsled
    5. Snowboard
  • These countries sent the most Tweets (per million population) mentioning the Olympics:
    1. South Korea
    2. Russia
    3. Japan
    4. Netherlands
    5. Canada
    6. Norway
    7. Latvia
    8. United States
    9. Mongolia
    10. France
    most mentioned sochi athlete twitter 2014

Sochi tweets per minute

  • Most-shared images on Twitter each day of competition

New Call-to-action