Popular Social Media Meme LOL Turns 25

8 Facts You Probably Don’t Know About the Term

“LOL” recently blew out candles for its 25th anniversary. On May 8, 1989, the term appeared for the first time in Fidonews and is still available! First perceived as strange (who laughs alone in front of his computer?), this term evolved year after year, so much so that it appeared in several dictionaries.
LOL social media
In order to participate in this social media celebration, we used our ForSight™ platform to analyze how use of the LOL term evolved since May 23, 2008. Using Twitter, we analyzed more than 7 billion posts using the term since 2008, and we found out some interesting facts.

  • How many posts containing the term exist over time?
  • Where do we find the biggest LOL aficionados?
  • Which are the most re-tweeted LOL posts?
  • What do are authors who use LOL likely to be interested in?

There are so many different facts from which it is possible to analyze the meaning variation of this term… in a very entertaining way.

Global Use of LOL

1. LOL appeared in 7 billion Tweets

It’s hard for new terms to break through social media clutter, but billions of posts suggest that this short abbreviation has succeeded. LOL saw its biggest peak on July 2012, counting more than 244,405,992 mentions, i.e. 3.49% of the total appearance of the word.

2. LOL is used 2X more in 2014 than in 2010

During August 2010, 44,462,533 Tweets contained the word LOL, representing about 1,434,275 mentions per day. Comparing to its 3,506,267 mentions per day on May 2014, results are clear: the word is used 2.44 times more than 4 years ago.

3. The US, Canada, and the UK know how to make it funny

These three countries LOL a lot. They represent the highest rate of LOL posts per capita (USA: 6.837; Canada: 2.689; UK: 2.562), followed by Ireland (2.032) and Australia (1,195).

4. LOL does not exist without love

With ForSight, we created a text visualization representing words that are frequently used alongside LOL and how they connect to each other in networks of words. The results make clear that LOL is a positive word, associated with “love,” “great,” “amazing,” and “awesome.” It’s a word that keeps good company!
social media LOL Word Cluster

5. And the most RT containing the word LOL goes to…

@5SOS, with more than 350,000 cumulated RT, happening on December 16, 2013. After sharing this post:

No doubt that @justinbieber is one of the big winners as well, having 7 of his posts in the top 10 most retweeted posts that use LOL.
RT #2: 234,274

RT #3: 189,459

6. LOL users like Nick Cannon and Soul Music

Part of our ForSight platform, we have been able to apply an audience analysis. Based on the results, authors who use LOL are more likely to be interested in:
Nick Cannon: 28x more than the average population on Twitter

  • VH1: 11x more
  • Soul Music: 11x more
  • Atlanta: 8x more (cf 5.!)
  • Amber Rose: 6x more
  • Basketball: 3x more
  • R&B: 7x more

On the contrary, these users do not seem to have strong affinities with Disney and Soccer (3x less).

LOL In the United States

7. LOL is more of a masculine term

53% of the LOL posts on Twitter come from men.  However, depending on the state where you live, results may change! In Hawaii, more than 66% of the posts come from men (60% in New York). On the contrary, California is one of the most equal States concerning gender parity for LOL (49% of the total posts come from women).

8. Georgia, Nevada, New York laugh out loud as well

Georgia (15.489), Nevada (13.293) and New York (12.899) maintained the LOL lead, followed by California (9.952), New Jersey (7.601) and Rhode Island (7.393). Vermont (0.692), Idaho (0.689) and Wyoming (0.534) end last at the ranking.
Dear LOL, we wish you again a digital happy birthday!
For more insight into how social media to understand audience perceptions, please check out our blog.

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