During last week, Dave Sharpe (@MyLocalFaces) ran an experiment based around a Twitter hashtag to see if Warwickshire-based twitter users (businesses and individuals) could grasp the idea, share their tweets, be followed and reciprocate, and start to communicate with each other. The hash-tag Dave chose for the exercise was #FollowBigBear, and as I write this post, although activity has reduced a little, it is still seeing a slow trickle of tweets.
I was interested in seeing the outcomes of this experiment, to try to find out if Warwickshire twitter users were actually going to communicate with each other, or just use the # as an opportunity to broadcast to twitter users with their latest deals and/or offerings.
Tweetreach was deployed to give a very basic summary of the most recent 50 tweets, but I wanted to see more, indepth information- an indication of peak user times of day would be good to see, especially to ascertain the different behaviours and comparisons between business users and individuals. So Tweetreach simply didn’t cut it- the information it spat out was far too basic.
Then I thought about what would happen when twitter’s own archive vanished after about 10 days (as is usualy the case), so I hopped over to the SearchHash script that Dave Briggs (@DaveBriggs) and Steph Gray (@LeSteph) wrote a year or so ago. This script is great for generating a .csv or pdf file archive, but, as it says in the footer, it is not designed to deliver a realtime search. I ran an archive scrape on Friday, which is available in MS Excel format.
Going back to my MA Social Media studies (#masocialmedia), I remembered that Martin Hawksey (@mhawksey) had written some excellent code where there was potential for a google doc spreadsheet to be used as an archive for tweets based around a given #. So I revisited Martin’s blog, and was rewarded with the new development that not only had the code been refined, it could also spit out the results in realtime, and (bonus) with careful application of Martin’s “TAGSExplorer” software, could generate the network graphic using a # in realtime! Impressive stuff.
*Technical Jargon Filter: ON*
During the application process (which involved getting a Twitter Developer Account opened so the API hack could be deployed – can I haz a badge;-), a Skype call with Martin, revealed a glitch: for some reason, Firefox on a Mac running Snow Leopard was inserting a tab before the Consumer Secret Key was pasted into the Google spreadsheet, something that Martin had not experienced before. With his expert help and hacking skills (whilst in France) the code was repaired, and the ‘lets make this work’ process continued.
The instructions (available at http://mashe.hawksey.info/2011/11/twitter-how-to-archive-event-hashtags-and-visualize-conversation/ ) were followed to the letter, and the Google Doc generated the information required.
As usual, I’m a big believer that information shared is a very powerful tool for building strong relationships, so if you want to see how the #FollowBigBear tweets and network actually looks in real-time graphic representation, see the TAGSExplorer Feed
The url for the graphic feed via TAGSExplorer is available at http://hawksey.info/tagsexplorer/?key=0AlNjC1eCi5fFdFlwc2lvbnFoZ0lzNUJLclBsV0xLYlE&sheet=oaw
To get access to the Google doc (open) which shows all the information collated, just visit https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AlNjC1eCi5fFdFlwc2lvbnFoZ0lzNUJLclBsV0xLYlE
*technical jargon filter: OFF*
So, back to the original reason for pulling this information together… you see all the dots with no links (curly lines) going to/from their account name… these are the users who have simply jumped onto the #FollowBigBear hash-tag, without following any new twitter users, or having twitter users follow them. The cynic in me would say that these are the users simply pushing messages out (1-to-many) rather than communicating (many-to-many), but I’m not cynical, so I won’t say that in such blatant terms (oops, it appears I just have). The other users appear to understand how the differences between communicating with a community versus broadcasting to an audience works, well, in Warwickshire anyway.
Many thanks to Martin Hawksey for his fantastic code, programming and assistance. Without him, none of the above would have been possible. You can COMMUNICATE with him via @mhawksey , and his blog is available by visiting http://mashe.hawksey.info/
Image Credit: (supplied under a Creative Commons License) “Getting em up” at U.S.Naval Training Camp, Seattle, Washington. Webster & Stevens., ca. 1917 – ca. 1918
Original Caption: “Getting em up” at U.S.Naval Training Camp, Seattle, Washington. Webster & Stevens., ca. 1917 – ca. 1918
U.S. National Archives’ Local Identifier:165-WW-332D(16)
From: American Unofficial Collection of World War I Photographs, compiled 1917 – 1918 (Record Group 165)
Created By: War Department. (1789 – 09/18/1947)
Production Date:ca. 1917 – ca. 1918
Persistent URL: arcweb.archives.gov/arc/action/ExternalIdSearch?id=533698
Repository: NARA’s Still Picture Records Section, National Archives at College Park (College Park, MD)