Evidence on Use of Twitter for Live Blogging
Posted by Brian Kelly (UK Web Focus) on 4 August 2009
When we encouraged use of Twitter at the IWMW 2009 event we ensured that tweets containing the event’s #iwmw2009 tag were archived using a variety of services including Backupmytweets, Twapperkeeper service, wthashtag and Tweetdoc.
A page on the IWMW 2009 event’s Web site provides links to the various archives of the tweets, allowing the different approaches taken by the services to be compared. But the most interesting feature was provided by the wthashtag which provides a record of tweets over a user-definable date range in HTML and RSS formats. But even more interestingly, it provides a range of statistics on usage of the selected hashtag.
As well as the histogram of usage of the tag which is illustrated, I also discover that over the past seven days the top contributors have been:
- @iwmwlive – 255
- @spellerlive – 60
- @mecb – 58
- @bensteeples – 54
- @MikeNolanLive – 45
- @catmachine – 41
- @PlanetClaire – 36
- @kammer – 35
- @webpackets – 34
- @m1ke_ellis – 32
Unsurprisingly the official @iwmwlive Twitter account was in top place (this belonged to the event’s live blogger who had a remit to keep a record of the plenary talks). Two of the other top contributors, @spellerlive and @MikeNolanLive also contains the ‘live’ suffix, indicating regular Twitter users who have chosen to create a second account to be used for live blogging at events. The numbers of tweets from @mecb is perhaps surprising as the user has previously been an infrequent blogger, although, as described in a video interview, Miles Banbery has discovered a new found enthusiasm for Twitter
In addition there have been:
- 1,530 tweets
- 170 contributors
- 218.6 tweets per day
- 42.5% come from “The Top 10″
- 4.4% are retweets
- 20.0% are mentions
- 34.5% have multiple hashtags
I am particularly interested in the statistics of usage of multiple hashtags. As described in a post on Use of Twitter at IWMW 2009 published a few days before the event began we suggested that “if you wish to refer to a specific plenary talk or workshop session [in your tweets], we have defined a hashtag for each of the plenary talks (#p1 to #p9) and workshop session (#a1-#a9, #b1-#b4 and #c1 top #c5“.
Mike Ellis responded to this suggestion: “I’ll be interested to see what take-up is for your #complexhashtagsuggestion. Personally (as you know!) I think it’s an error of complexity over usability.“
I feel the evidence indicates that many of the participants were willing to use multiple hashtags when their use was appropriate (hashtags were not suggested for the bar camp sessions or for social events, so we wouldn’t expect 100% of the event tweets to have multiple hashtags.
We can now, after the event, exploit the multiple hashtags to more easily find what people were saying about particular sessions. Use of #iwmw2009 and #p3 in a Twitter search, for example, enables us to quickly discover what was being said about Paul Boag’s talk on Making your killer applications… killer!. Why might we want to do this? Well towards the end of the talks we invited participants to post a single tweet summarising what they felt they had gained from the session. This may be useful information to reflect on after the event.
And it should be noted that some of the comments were made after the talk had been given – without the additional hashtag it would have been difficult to relate a comment to a particular session (in the example illustrated the reference to Paul Boag’s plenary talk #P3 was made in the final summing-up session).
An approach to be recommended for future events?