Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Neat Twitter visualisation - but is it really relevant?

Today I stumbled across this really interesting visualisation of the 2012 Republican nomination race.


This is the type of data visualisation that I like to see - major props should go to Hotspots.io for taking an already interesting race, and placing it's context within the world of social media.

However, I do have a couple of caveats.
  1. Twitter is a reaction to the world around us. The fact that the debate was a popular topic on Twitter was mostly down to the fact that it had been heavily covered in the press, and featured on television. This is not down to Twitter generating it's own news and blabber. This story would have been popular in the pre-digital, pre-social age. Think Kennedy vs. Nixon. That is a confrontation that still echoes down the ages. Twitter wasn't around back then, but basic human interaction was. We should marvel at how readily accessible the information is - but we shouldn't believe that this story wouldn't have generated the same response if it had been broken pre-Twitter.
  2. Sentiment is valuable. Whilst it's great that we can see how many people are tweeting about these stories, the valuable information is how Twitterers are actually responding to these stories. After all, a crowd may clap as one, but each individual could have a different reason for doing so. I know how many people Tweet about the brands that I work with. What I work hard at is digging into that top-level data and finding out what they think! Opinions are like arseholes - everybody's got one.
Still - it's a nice, smart visualisation of top-level data, and I'd be interested in seeing what else Hotspots has to offer a serious social media manager/community editor.