#ThisHappened: What trended on Twitter India in 2016

twitter trends India 2016

The year 2016 was a special one for social media enthusiasts in India to join the global conversations on Twitter, the world’s largest live communications platform. From celebrations, protests, revolutionary reforms, and crisis, all inspired the Indian user to share their opinions and experiences on Twitter.

The country’s trending moments turned into worldwide conversations on Twitter, be it PM Modi’s revolutionary demonetisation reform (Most Influential Moment of the Year), Delhi’s rising pollution problem, the debut of Global Citizen Festival in India, and the Bollywood glam at the Filmfare Awards.

Meanwhile, proud Indian voices joined the global Twitter community when India’s women athletes broke new ground at the Rio 2016 Olympics, cricketers Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni achieved milestone successes at the international World T20 tournament, and global cultural celebrations took place for Diwali, Ganesh Chaturthi and the International Day of Yoga.

PV Sindhu, Sakshi Malik, and Dipa Karmakar, India’s women athletes that won a million hearts on Twitter during the Olympics made #Rio2016 the Top Hashtag Trend of the Year on Twitter. Their medal victories and near-misses inspired women everywhere, and showcased a spirit of unwavering determination and grit.

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.

It’s an emphatic example of an Indian youth icon using Twitter’s public platform to change the conversation by standing up for the woman in his life and advocating a more positive online behaviour. It was well-appreciated by his Twitter followers and other like-minded individuals, which helped make it go viral on Twitter.

The most influential moments on Twitter in 2016

Twitter is the platform where users login to receive real time updates from around the world. 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. The Demonetisation Scheme

When Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the demonetization move on 8th November to curb black money and corruption, the move which impacted the population of the entire country opened the floodgates for conversation on Twitter. Supporters and detractors took to Twitter to voice their opinions which resulted in 650,000 tweets in 24 hours after the announcement, followed by millions more, putting India into the global limelight.

2. Women athletes at Rio 2016

The entire nation rallied behind its top female athletes during #Rio2016 as Twitter users from publicly voiced their support and gratitude for India’s beloved daughters who made the country proud. Twitter recorded millions of Tweets in these moments of national pride, between 5th and 21st August mentioning P.V. Sindhu, Dipa Karmakar and Sakshi Malik, the three exceptional performers at #Rio2016.

3. India vs Pakistan at World T20

On March 19th, #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. The Delhi Government attempted to curb the pollution by introducing a number of measures but 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 Oct 30-Nov 2. 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. India vs Australia at World T20

One of the most exciting games of #WT20 was the do-or-die, winner-takes-all clash between India and Australia on March 27th. 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.
See more about this Twitter conversation here: #IndvsAus reverb chart

7. International Day of Yoga

The 2nd International Day of Yoga on June 21st 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 November 19th, 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.

9. India celebrates Ganesh Chaturthi

For the first time, Twitter announced a special Lord Ganesha emoji for the festival of Ganesh Chaturthi this year. It quickly turned out to be a hit with devotees on Twitter from around the world, making #GaneshChaturthi one of the top global trends this year, recording half a million tweets.

10. Filmfare Awards

For the 61st Filmfare Awards on January 15th, 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.


Top Hashtags on Twitter in 2016

Hashtags are the anchor of social media conversation as they enable users to discover and join relevant conversations online about topics they care for. Sporting events turned out to be the most trending topics this year with seven out of ten top hashtags being related to sports.

1. #Rio2016

#Rio2016 was the most popular and dominant hashtag this year as the Twitter users from around the world cheered for their countries on Twitter, with India being one of the most vociferous on the microblogging platform.

2. #IndvsPak

India vs Pakistan Cricket matches have always brought the eyes of the entire world on them, which happened once again this year when the two neighbours met on the pitch in the group stage of the ICC World T20 tournament. Cricket mania took over Twitter as #IndvsPak was the second most popular hashtag in 2016.

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 March 15 – April 3.

4. #IndvsAus

There may not be a better love story than Indian fans and the gentleman’s game as Cricket not only rules the hearts of the Indian fans but also on social media. The #IndvsAus battle on the cricket pitch at the World T20 Championship, when India beat Australia was the fourth most popular hashtag.

5. #MakeInIndia

The #MakeInIndia programme that encourages companies to manufacture their products in India has been consistently visible on Twitter as the Central Government utilizes the capabilities of Twitter to share updates regarding new deals, ventures and transfers with #MakeInIndia.

6. #IndvsWI

India vs West Indies was the penultimate knockout semi-final game in the WT20 tournament. #IndvsWI trended all day on March 31st 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 March 23rd. India clinched the thrilling WT20 match by defeating Bangladesh by 1 run and Twitter reflected the sentiments of this joyous moment.

8. #PVSindhu

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 September 29th, 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 charged with sedition charges and arrested on February 13th 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 followed accounts on Twitter

Narendra Modi leads the pack of Indian Twitter users in terms of number of followers, amassing more than 8.8 million followers in 2016, followed by a host of Bollywood celebrities who complete the list of Top Ten most followed accounts on Twitter.

Narendra Modi @narendramodi


Prime Minister Narendra Modi has more than 25.3 Million followers on his official Twitter account.

Amitabh Bachchan @SrBachchan


Big B comes finished second on the list of most popular Indian Twitter users with 23.8 Million followers.

Shah Rukh Khan @iamsrk


King Khan comes in third  with 22.4 Million followers on Twitter.

Salman Khan @BeingSalmanKhan


With 20.6 million followers, Salman Khan finishes this year in fourth place.

Aamir Khan @aamir_khan


Perfectionist Aamir Khan rounds of the top five with 19.2 million followers.

Deepika Padukone @deepikapadukone

Bollywood’s Mastani finishes sixth with 16.7 million followers.

Priyanka Chopra @priyankachopra

Now a global phenomenon, Priyanka Chopra’s ever growing fan base has reached 15.7 million on Twitter.

Hrithik Roshan @iHrithik

On the eighth position is Hrithik Roshan with 15.5 followers.

Akshay Kumar @akshaykumar

The Khiladi star has more than 15.3 million followers on his official Twitter account.

A. R. Rahman @arrahman

Rounding off the Top Ten is musician A. R. Rahman with 12.7 million followers.

New Influential Accounts on Twitter in 2016

Some of the notable personalities who joined Twitter this year.

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.

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.

Dipa Karmakar @DipaKarmakar

The first Indian female gymnast ever to compete in the Olympics joined Twitter during the Rio games. Dipa Karmakar took to Twitter to connect with her supporters and wished them a Happy Independence Day in her most retweeted tweet.

The microblogging platform is offering a special emoji for the end of the year for people to share their memories and moments from 2016. Using the hashtag #ThisHappened from today to 5th January 2017, the special Twitter emoji will appear in your tweet.