Year in Twitter: Celebs deepen their fan connection
Published: December 11, 2012 02:30PM
Updated: December 11, 2012 09:20AM
In this March 8, 2012 file photo, members of the band One Direction, from left, Liam Payne, Zayn Malik, Niall Horan, Louis Tomlinson and Harry Styles attend the premiere of the Nickelodeon TV movie "Big Time Movie" in New York. (AP Photo/Charles Sykes, file)

Justin Bieber is still the king of the Twitterverse, but in 2012, Harry Styles, Louis Tomlinson, Liam Payne and Niall Horan’s number of Twitter followers went One Direction: Up.

Each of the boy band members had the biggest percentage increase in Twitter followers among celebrities for the year, with Horan leading at 712%, according to exclusive data released by Twitter.

The most tweeted about celebrities of the year? Justin Bieber, Zayn Malik, Styles and Tomlinson.

For Twitter-loving celebrities, 2012 was all about bringing their followers deeper inside for a more direct connection to the fan experience, says Twitter senior manager Rachael Horwitz.

“It was really exciting to see a legend like Neil Young join Twitter and spend time answering questions from fans,” says Horwitz. “People have been fans of his for decades, so to just be able to reach out directly to him is one of those moments (where) Twitter is bringing you closer to a legend.”

Those kinds of star/fan moments are even more regular among celeb super-users such as Lady Gaga and Bieber, whose Twitter tribute to a young fan who passed away in September was the most re-tweeted pre-election message of the year. (Here’s the 5 most retweeted tweets.)

“That tweet was something beyond his music. It was him and his fans saying goodbye to one of their own, and it clearly resonated with folks,” says Horwitz.

In 2012, fans also experienced more celeb-to-celeb interactions, as they were able to “eavesdrop” on conversations between stars.

“I would never be in a situation where I could sit in on a conversation with Albert Brooks and Steve Martin, but they talk to each other all day on Twitter,” Horwitz says. “There was a really fun moment in May where Drake tweeted, ‘The first million is the hardest,’ and T. Boone Pickens responded, ‘The first billion is a hell of a lot harder.’ ... We’re bringing celebrities together (who) you would never imagine talking to each other or having any kind of connection.”

Twitter adds photo tools to mobile app in challenge to Instagram

Twitter Inc. unveiled the ability to adjust the color, size and style of photos uploaded via applications for Apple Inc. iPhones and Android phones, as the social media site adds features to compete with Facebook Inc.’s Instagram.

The photo filters, developed in partnership with software maker Aviary Inc. are part of an update to the mobile apps made available today, San Francisco-based Twitter said in a blog post.

Twitter is letting users add photos, video, and audio to their postings as it steps up competition with Facebook, which bought photo-sharing service Instagram earlier this year. Last week, Instagram disabled a feature called Twitter cards for showcasing photos and other media. The move was seen as a step that better prepares Instagram for generating revenue from its own services by driving traffic to its website.

Twitter’s updated photo-enhancing apps will probably bring more exposure to Aviary, a New York-based startup with backing from Inc. founder Jeff Bezos and LinkedIn Corp. co- founder Reid Hoffman.

— Bloomberg News