Mashable recently declared 2011 the ‘Year of Twitter’, and it’s certainly true that the microblogging site has come on leaps and bounds over the past 12 months. 2011 was the year that truly pushed Twitter into the mainstream, as it became the trend-steer of choice as well as the place to break the latest news.   

As Twitter itself notes in its ‘Stories’ section, many of the major news stories of 2011 hit Twitter first, and rapidly spread there. In early 2011, reflecting upon the role he’d played in the uprisings in Egypt, Wael Ghonim said "If you want to liberate a government, give them the Internet.” His words set the tone for a year of uprisings, global protests, and the growth of Twitter.

Many of the Arab Spring revolutions used Twitter to rally support and spread the word about upcoming protests. William Saletan of Slate Magazine says that Egyptians ‘shared a yearning to oust Hosni Mubarak, but each person was afraid to step forward. Once they saw how many other Egyptians agreed with them [on Twitter], they grew bolder.’   

Other major news stories to appear on Twitter included the death of Apple founder and CEO Steve Jobs, the UK riots and subsequent cleanup efforts, the Japan earthquake and its aftermath, the ‘Occupy’ protests and of course the death of Osama Bin Laden, which was inadvertently live-tweeted.

Many of these stories first appeared on Twitter, and spread, both across Twitter and to mainstream media, from there. Do you recall Bill Gates’ kind words about Steve Jobs, or the announcement of Osama Bin Laden’s death?

    

    

Twitter itself went under the knife for a complete redesign in late 2011 and hit 100 Million users. The site also took on a lot of new celebrity users; James Cameron (@jimcameron), Rafael Nadal (@RafaelNadal), Alec Baldwin (@AlecBaldwin), the notorious Charlie Sheen (@CharlieSheen), and even The Pope (@news_va_en).      

Twitter even ended the year with a bang, with New Years setting a new record of over 16,000 tweets per second and crashing the service temporarily. By comparison, New Years 2011 set a record of over 6,300 tweets per second, meaning the service has grown by 2 and a half times in just one year.    

In its rundown of the year for Twitter, TIME goes so far as to ask ‘If a news event happened in 2011, but nobody tweeted about it, did it actually happen?’ That is certainly the way things are going, and we envisage nothing but further growth for Twitter in 2012.

What do you think? Leave a comment below, or even better, tweet to us @luciditydigital

 

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