2016’s most talked about topics on Twitter

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incamerastock / Alamy Stock Photo

No matter what the latest headlines are, if it’s big enough to make the ‘trending’ list on Twitter, you can pretty much guarantee Alamy will have an image of it – and images are important in the world of social media.

There’s plenty of research out there showing that Tweets that include an image achieve higher engagement levels than those without – like this blog post from Twitter that suggests Tweets with photos get 313% more engagement! Images tend to evoke an emotional response from people, whether it makes someone laugh, or causes shock, anger or tears – images catch the eye of the reader and can be easier to relate to than words.

We’ve picked out 5 of the most popular topics on Twitter in 2016 that sum up at least part of this rollercoaster of a year…


One of the highlights of the year in August 2016, the Summer Olympics took to our screens as Rio, Brazil became the host of the Games of the 31st Olympiad. Twitter was flooded with Tweet after Tweet from athletes and sports fans worldwide as people shared their favourite moments from #Rio2016.

Lagoa, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Image Source / Alamy Stock Photo


As the 6th most Tweeted topic of 2016, Britain’s exit from the EU – nicknamed ‘Brexit’ – quickly became a prominent topic across the world. On 23rd June 2016, voters from across the UK took to the polling stations to cast their vote on whether the UK should ‘leave’ or ‘stay’. ‘Leave’ won by 52% to 48%, triggering a mixture of emotional responses from Twitter uses all over the world!

Brexit concept image.
Islandstock / Alamy Stock Photo


For hundreds of thousands of people who grew up in the 90s and 2000s, 2016 was the year that their childhood dreams came true…  With the launch of PokémonGo in July 2016, it was now possible for people to head out onto the streets to hunt for Pokémon! The game was launched with the intention of keeping kids active and healthy, aiming to lure them away from their games consoles and out into the fresh air. Of course, anyone who grew up with the Pokémon games or cartoons wanted in on the action – so the popularity of the game rocketed from the offset!

Montreal, CA - July 28, 2016: Closeup of the loading screen of the videogame Pokemon Go remembering players to be alert. Pokemon
Marc Bruxelle / Alamy Stock Photo


On a more serious note, 2016 managed to build itself a reputation as a year of monumental loss. We said goodbye to a huge number of global icons and celebrities throughout the year, from David Bowie and Alan Rickman in January 2016, to Prince, Muhammad Ali and George Michael to name but a few. #RIP

RELEASE DATE: June 28, 2007. MOVIE TITLE: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. STUDIO: Heyday Films. PLOT: Harry is about to start his fifth year at Hogwarts. He's desperate to get back to school and find out why his friends Ron and Hermoine have be
Entertainment Pictures / Alamy Stock Photo


One of the most memorable US elections of all time – destined for fame no matter the result of the vote with the possibility of the first woman President being elected. When Donald Trump won the vote the reactions from across the world ranged from absolute delight through to overarching anxiety, but sure enough the topic of his election win was enough to secure #Trump a place on the top 10 most-tweeted list of 2016!

Portrait of Donald Trump in front of Trump Tower 8 June 2010
zoran milich / Alamy Stock Photo


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