The geography of Twitter topics in London

Twitter_Social Media

Twitter is one of the largest social media website in the world. It has about 320 million visitors every month.

Twitter is loved by people who spread the word via tweets. Different from other social media sites like Facebook or Google+, Twitter has a text string limit (140 characters).

In addition, about 80% of active Twitter users use a mobile telephone to tweet, and about 1% of users opt to share their locations based on the coordinates of their devices.

Tweet content may provide valuable information about social sensing, which means people can record data on their surroundings, activities, and opinions via social media.

However, so far few studies have tried to use the data to explore people’s typical daily activities in specific places.

In a study newly published in Computers, Environment and Urban Systems, researchers used Tweet content to analyze the weekday patterns of social media activities in London.

They selected Tweets in weekdays during January 1st 2013 – December 31st 2013. These Tweets were geo-referenced to inner London.

The result showed that the highest concentration of Tweets is in Central London, and that the Western Central London has a higher density of Tweets than the City of London.

Researchers suggest that this might be because the City of London offers fewer activities to workers, whereas the Western Central London has more tourist and leisure attractions.

This was confirmed by the dominance of night-time Tweets in Central London’s Soho district (in Westminster).

Researchers then selected 20 Twitter topics using word cloud technique.

The topics included photography and sights, optimism and positivity, leisure and attractions, TV and films, transport and travel, humor, politics, sport, business, music, food, body, pessimism, places, social media, routine activities, wishers, foreign, and so on.

Each topic had its own temporal pattern. For instance, the food group showed a peak during midday and again in the evening, the transport group highlighted the morning rush hour, and the sport group showed a peak during the evenings (19:00–22:00).

Researchers also analyzed other information, such as key places, land-use, user gender and age, and their socio-economic status. These data are valuable to planners, marketers, and researchers.

Future work will develop tools to estimate the content of social media posts across time and space, and between users.

Citation: Lansley G, Longley PA. (2016). The geography of Twitter topics in London. Computers, Environment and Urban Systems, 58: 85-96. doi:10.1016/j.compenvurbsys.2016.04.002
Figure legend: This image is for illustrative purposes only.