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2013 Was The Year Of The Selfie. Seriously.

2013 Was The Year Of The Selfie. Seriously.

Did you know that the Oxford Dictionary declared “selfie” as the word of 2013?

The official definition for the word “selfie” is as follows:

“a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website”

And if you’ve spent any time on any social network (aside from possibly LinkedIn) you’ve likely come across at least a few dozen of these pictures.

Since the official definition of the word states that these pictures are usually uploaded to a social media websites, we decided to use MAP, our social media monitoring and analytics software, to take a look and see just how that word appeared in the world of social this year.

We looked for mentions of the word “selfie” from January 1 of this year right up to yesterday. In that time, we found an incrdible 29 million mentions of “selfie” across social media channels. The word selfie appeared in 89,328 blogs, 55,816 forum postings and an incredible 28,806,056 tweets. Selfie even appeared in 57,080 news articles this year.

MAP, Powered by Sysomos - Activity Summary

What’s very amazing to see is how the word selfie trended over the entire year. It was being used towards the beginning of the year, but continuously gained steam as the year went on. We can see that as the year went on, selfie started appearing more and more in social media conversations, especially Twitter which out shadows the other channels. You can also notice a huge spike in use on November 19th as that was the day that Oxford Dictionary announced it as the word of the year.

MAP, Powered by Sysomos - Popularity Chart

Even if we remove Twitter from the popularity chart, we can see essentially the same pattern of a rise in use as the year went on. What’s most interesting in this chart below is the giant spikes in online news channels mentioning selfies towards the end. The first one is like the one on Twitter above on the day if officially became the word of 2013. The last big spike happened just a few days ago as the media made a big deal over President Obama snapping a selfie with the British and Danish Prime Ministers at the memorial for Nelson Mandela in South Africa.

MAP, Powered by Sysomos - Popularity Chart Minus Twitter

The selfie is also a world-wide phenomenon. We looked into where mentions of selfies were coming from and found that no where in the world was safe. The pie chart below looks at all social channels combined and shows that the selfie is by far most popular in the United States, which accounted for 59.7% of all selfie mentions.

MAP, Powered by Sysomos - Country Breakdown

But to really see the spread of the use of the word selfie, we pulled up our geo location heat map of where tweets mentioning it were coming from.

MAP, Powered by Sysomos - Geo Location Heat Map of Tweets

We were also curious to know what people had to say when they were sharing (or talking about) their selfies. To do so we looked at a buzzgraph and found a few interesting things. When people posted selfies they tended to be also showing off what they were “wearing” or their “friends.” Also interesting was that people seem to post a lot of selfies of them “twerking” as the word “twerk” appeared quite frequently in conjunction with selfie. However, the most common word that we found associated with the selfie was everyone’s favourite photo sharing app/service, Instagram.

MAP, Powered by Sysomos - Buzzgraph

We would be remiss if we didn’t include Instagram in our exploration of the selfie, so we did. When we searched Instagram for pictures that were tagged with the word selfie we found a mind-blowing 61.9 million photos.

MAP, Powered by Sysomos - Instagram Activity

Lastly, we wanted to know what selfies were shared the most this year. To do so, we pulled up the top 4 retweeted tweets that contained the word selfie. No surprise to most people is that 3 of the top 4 belong to pop stars Justin Bieber and Harry Styles of One Direction. They seem to always get the most retweets whenever we look at anything that’s popular. However, the best one came in at only the third most retweeted of the year, but is probably the most famous selfie of the year. This was the tweet made by a high school student named Malik, who goes by @spideynikka on Twitter, when he posted a selfie of himself while his teacher was going into labour right behind him. The selfie went viral and since acquired over 55,000 retweets and many articles written about it.

MAP, Powered by Sysomos - Most Retweeted Tweets


What do you think about “selfie” being the word of 2013? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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