Tweeters are coming out in force this winter to tweet about the 2011 Canada Winter Games being held in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The Social Media Lab has been following the #2011canadagames hashtag since Jan 20th to analyze what people are saying about this event in the twitterverse and to gauge the sentiments of all of the tweets. In the lead up to the start of the game we have already captured over 800 tweets, about 43% were retweets (messages forwarded by others). This is significantly higher than the 13% retweeting rate found in a prior study that we conducted last year during the 2010 Winter Olympics. This suggests a very loyal and tightly-knit community of twitter users who readily retweets messages about the Canada Winter Games.
More interestingly, half of all messages with #2011canadagames hashtag were positive (including 14% strongly positive messages) as measured by SentiStrength, a sentiment analysis (opinion mining) program. Some examples of positive messages include messages like “Wow. Nice entertainment lineup for the Halifax 2011 Canada Winter Games” or “Thrilled at how many volunteers came out on such a cold night. Go #2011canadagames go“. Only 7 messages were negative, with the remaining messages being neutral in nature. It is too early to determine whether the distribution in favor of positive messages verses negative messages will continue to hold through out the game, but thus far, the comments being made are overwhelmingly very positive!
Some of the biggest trending topics on the #2011canadagames hashtag are perhaps not surprising, with ‘Nova Scotia’, ‘Halifax’, and ‘Canada Games’ appearing very frequently. What is surprising is the fact that the term ‘Volunteers’ and ‘vols’ (the short form for volunteers) are shaping up to be two of the most common keywords being used in tweets about the games. However, upon further investigation, this is really not that surprising since, according to the organizers, over 5000 people have registered to be Game volunteers; and undoubtedly some of the volunteers are also active Twitter users. This is the most active private group of individuals tweeting about the winter games thus far. Their tweets focus on everything from congratulating groups of volunteers for organizing events, promoting upcoming volunteer activities, and messages of thanks between the volunteers themselves.
Another group that is getting a lot of buzz on #2011canadagames hashtag are corporate sponsors of the games and Canadian mass media outlets. They are actively following the games and tweeting about them. Their tweets are getting a significant amount of re-tweets (RTs) from readers. For example Bell Aliant and the Halifax’s Chronicle Herald are the two biggest , however smaller more specialized news sources such as Synchro Canada are also competing to bring the twitter audience coverage of this event.
The arts are also featuring prominently in the Winter Games’ twitterverse. The Halifax art community has a strong reputation which is perhaps why there is such an interest in this aspect of the Games. Artists selected for the National Artists Program (or ‘NAPsters’ as they have been dubbed in tweets) are being promoted, as are some specific artists by name (such as Samantha MacKay, the Highland Dancer). Special arts events such as the upcoming Joel Plaskett concert are also being tweeted about.
Stay tuned for our continuing analysis of the #2011CanadaGames live Twitter stream.
* Dr. Anatoliy Gruzd and Philip Mai of the Dalhousie Social Media Lab contributed to the analysis and writing of this report.