World Diabetes Day 2014 on Twitter… sifting through the data

At Symplur we track hashtags, keywords, user accounts, and pretty much anything else on Twitter that has to do with healthcare. We collect the data and then build countless ways to slice it up so that we’re able to better understand the people involved and the conversations taking place. So when a day like “World Diabetes Day” rolls around, it’s an opportunity to dive in and explore.

For the purpose of this post, I’ll keep it focused on just a few basic questions.

What was the hashtag for World Diabetes Day?
The answer to that question depends on who you’re asking. The International Diabetes Federation, organizer of World Diabetes Day, uses #WDD as the official campaign hashtag. But hashtags often form organically, and we’ve seen several others in use for this event as well. The most prevalent in terms of use in 2014 were…

Hashtag Number of Tweets Number of Users Total Impressions
#WDD 13,673 7,718 49,325,355
#WorldDiabetesDay 13,424 9,437 67,475,124
#WDD2014 1,996 1,117 9,070,080

So even though #WDD was the “official” hashtag for this event, it wasn’t the most widely adopted in terms of users, nor was it the one that made the most impressions. Something can be learned here.

What’s more, at Symplur we currently track 113 hashtags that are related to the topic of “diabetes”, and when we look at which of these was used most on World Diabetes Day, we find that the more generic hashtag of #Diabetes led all on that day…

Hashtag Number of Tweets Number of Users Total Impressions
#Diabetes 25,949 15,573 172,092,687

Topic of "diabetes": volume of tweets per hour, Nov. 14, 2014

What was said on World Diabetes Day?
This time the answer to the question is, “That depends on where you were.” Word Bubble graphs are great for getting a quick sense of what was talked about because they show the most frequently used words in a given set of tweets. And when we look at such a graph on World Diabetes Day of the top 50 words used across all 113 diabetes hashtags, we see that when the 24 hour period is based on the Eastern Time Zone we have just a handful of Spanish words ranking prominently. However, when we shift that 24 hour period to the Pacific Time Zone, we notice a huge surge in the amount of Spanish language tweets.

Word Times Used (Eastern Time) Position in Top 50 (Eastern Time) Times Used (Pacific Time) Position in Top 50 (Pacific Time)
día  (day) 3,115 6 4,584 5
Mundial  (World) 3,031 7 3,858 7
hoy  (today) 2,133 10 4,015 6
prevenir (prevent) 929 28
boletín (newsletter) 891 30
tipo (type) 858 34

diabetes topic - 111414 - pac time - word bubble

This surge in Spanish language tweets was coming mainly from Spain, Mexico and throughout South America. The Hispanic population in the U.S., though substantial in certain areas, was largely absent. Also, as pointed out earlier, of those tweeting about diabetes on World Diabetes Day, the hashtag #Diabetes was used nearly twice as often as #WDD. However, and this is important, among Spanish language tweets #Diabetes was used almost seven times (!) as often as #WDD.

diabetes topic spanish language - 111414 - pac time - heat map

What’s more, the transcript uncovers a hashtag that we at Symplur hadn’t been tracking… #diamundialdeladiabetes (dia mundial de la diabetes = world diabetes day). This hashtag shows up 1,298 times in tweets whose hashtags we were tracking, and was a parallel campaign specifically targeting Hispanics.

This is a good example of why knowing where your target market’s network is on the social web is important if you wish to disseminate your message to them. And, depending on where your interests lie, why it’s important to recognize that global behavior on the web isn’t consistent for each time zone, and exploration of that fact is essential.

Me, I’m left wishing that someone had submitted #diamundialdeladiabetes to The Healthcare Hashtag Project in advance.

How many different hashtags were used in diabetes related tweets on World Diabetes Day?
This answer is simple, if not surprising. 960!

They included all sorts of things such as locations (#phoenix, #africa), lifestyle (#healthyliving, breakfast), and sub-campaigns/chats (#bluecircle, #WDDchat14). As a matter of fact there were no less than 20 hashtags used that included some variation of “blue”.

Closing thoughts
I’m passionate about this stuff, and would have loved to talk about the most popular links shared such as the best glucose meter, sentiment analysis, influencers… the list goes on.

Campaigns like World Diabetes Day have been evolving, but the social web has been evolving even faster. Understanding these virtual networks, what they talk about, and how they’re connected has become increasingly important. The nice thing is that with platforms like Twitter it’s all public communication, thereby making research and discovery entirely possible.

So, the last question is… “How are you leveraging these insights?”

ThomasLee– By Thomas Lee (@tmlfox), Partner at Symplur

Symplur believes that at this very moment the medical community is in a unique position to help mold the future of the patient/provider relationship. That provider participation in healthcare social media will, at an increasing rate, become the public’s expectation. And that for physicians and other healthcare organizations, just having a website no longer defines one’s online presence.

Symplur has positioned itself to be:

  • An enabler, via The Healthcare Hashtag Project for the many online communities and individuals who are connected through conversations centered around the thousands of health related topics actively being discussed.
  • A guide, at the epicenter of Healthcare Social Media who has no peer in its ability to dissect this enormous and ever-growing dataset, and to uncover the wealth of information it contains through their proprietary, deep data-mining techniques that have been designed specifically around the unique needs of the healthcare industry via their Symplur Signals product.
  • A strategist, to provide consultative support aimed at meeting the healthcare industry’s effective adoption and integration of this new media with highly focused, purpose driven solutions supported by their state of the art data analytics.

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