The Canadian national motto – “A mari usque ad mare”, translates as “From sea to sea” is vividly being brought to life during this year Canada Winter Games here in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The games are expected to bring together approximately 2,700 young athletes from every province and territory in Canada to compete for medals, allowing them to develop skills and showcase their talents on a national stage.
On Friday February 11th, the 2011 Canada Games began with an exhilarating opening ceremony. But excitement for the Games had been building for weeks prior their launch, with fans expressing support for their provincial or territorial teams on Twitter using the hashtag #2011CanadaGames. The Social Media Lab has been monitoring the #2011CanadaGames Twitter hashtag since Jan 20th. As of Friday, February 11th, the eve before the opening ceremony, we have already seen over 800 tweets about the Games. Of the over 800 tweets containing this hashtag, more than half contained a reference to a specific province, territory or geographical location in Canada. Tweets about all provinces and territories except for the Northwest Territories were made prior to the start of the games. Below is a visualization that graphically shows how often each province is mentioned on Twitter using the hashtag #2011CanadaGames. It was created using ICTA (Internet Community Text Analyzer), a web-based text analyzer designed to automatically discover social networks and important topics within electronic communication such as emails, online forum, blogs and tweets.
As expected, the province of Nova Scotia was mentioned in more tweets than any other provinces. In fact 2/3rds of all tweets contained some reference to Nova Scotia, 62% of which directly referenced Halifax. Overall tweets with reference to Nova Scotia were from people, athletes, businesses and organizations, both from within Nova Scotia and across the country that expressed excitement over the games. The arrival of athletes from other provinces to Halifax on February 10th generated a large amount of tweets and retweets. Interestingly, few tweets leading up to the opening ceremony made reference to individual athletes. However, we suspect that this will change once the games begin, and athletes begin winning medals.
The top five provinces or territories that were mentioned on Twitter using the hashtag #2011CanadaGames are as follows:
1) Nova Scotia 66%
2) Prince Edward Island 8%
3) New Brunswick 6%
4) Alberta 5%
5) Newfoundland and Labrador 4%
The low frequency of tweets mentioning larger more populated provinces such as Ontario and BC is a bit surprising. The high frequency of tweets referring to some of our smaller provinces is equally surprising. We suspect that due to their geographical proximity to Nova Scotia, the other maritime provinces had caught the Games fever earlier than the larger provinces resulting in their higher ranking in our Top Five list. It will be interesting to see whether close geographic proximity to Halifax will continue to influence how often a province is mentioned in a tweet once competition starts in earnest this week.
On another interesting note, tweets that mentioned Alberta, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Ontario were focused on providing information about the Games and the athletes and artists taking part in the events. But few posts expressed general excitement over the Games themselves. On the other hand, tweets that mentioned Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick were more varied, containing both information about the Games, and expressions of excitement from fans and participants alike. The differences in the style and content of tweets is interesting to note but is not easily explainable at this time without more information about the tweeps and their motivation.
Stay tuned for our continuing analysis of the #2011CanadaGames live Twitter stream.
* Philip Mai contributed to the analysis and writing of this report.
Canada Games Council (2004). Jeux Du Canada Games: Athletes. Retrieved from http://www.canadagames.ca/Content/AthletesHome.asp?mnu=1
Canada Games (2011). National Artist Program and Gala. Retrieved from http://www.canadagames2011.ca/en/home/celebrate/nationalartistprogramandgala.aspx