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February on social media

Every day Populus tracks the biggest British hashtags or trends on Twitter, the most watched video on YouTube, and the most searched for term on Google. We keep a regular eye too on major trends on Facebook, Instagram and elsewhere.

The result is insight into what the country is talking about, watching, and searching for.

Awards Season

February’s big social media stories were frequently celebrity focused.

Annual music and film award shows both in the UK and internationally – the BAFTAS, the BRITS, and the Oscars – captured attention on Twitter and Google. From outspoken acceptance speeches, live performances, red carpet outfits and, for the Oscars, mistaken winners, gave social media users plenty to talk about, comment on, and share.

Individual celebrities also trended. Beyonce’s now much imitated pregnancy announcement captured attention at the start of February, acquiring 10.5 million likes (and still counting) on Instagram alone. A celebrity of a very different type, cleaning expert Kim Woodburn, enjoyed a resurgence of interest following her appearance on Celebrity Big Brother. Social media also marked the passing of Tara Palmer-Tomkinson.

Transatlantic Politics

Politics, both in the UK and in the US, was another major theme throughout February.

In British politics, the release of the Government’s Housing White Paper, Andrew Marr’s interviews with Liz Truss MP, Lord Mandelson, and Russian pro-democracy leader Gary Kasparov, and some not-so-serious suggestions of questions to #AskPaulNuttall the UKIP leader (and defeated Stoke-on-Trent by-election candidate) were all the most Tweeted stories of their day. The #1DayWithoutUs campaign went viral on the 20th, highlight the positive role immigrants play in the UK’s public services, academia and elsewhere.

The UK also showed itself to have a continuing interest in American politics and the impact of Donald Trump’s presidency. Saturday Night Live’s take on a Sean Spicer press conference trended at the start of the month on YouTube, with Google being used later in February as Brits followed and tried to make sense of President Trump’s lengthy press conference in which he repeated attacks on the media (including the BBC’s Jon Sopel). Milo Yiannopoulos proved another popular search and topic for discussion at the end of the month as the outspoken commentator and activist faced renewed controversy.

Unlikely Sporting Stars

Pool player Naoyuki Oi became a temporary YouTube sensation after giving an entertaining interview in his limited English and calling for fans to “Congratulations me!” after success in his World Pools Masters match. Wayne Shaw was another sportsman to achieve unexpected fame on social media in February for his now infamous late game #PieGate snack.


Laurence Stellings

Laurence is a corporate reputation expert who is primarily focused on helping clients to develop and implement evidence-based strategies to best communicate their messages, manage their reputations and understand their key audiences.

Many well-established corporate clients such as Asda, Google, Sky, and RBS, as well as public bodies like the BBC and The Charity Commission and several political parties and campaigns have benefited from Laurence’s strategic counsel and expertise in a wide range of research techniques including stakeholder audits, key driver and segmentation analysis, political polling, and deliberative events.


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