Hockey Dominates the Twitter Geographic Landscape at #2011CanadaGames

Hockey shoots and scores with twitterers at this year Canada Games. During the first week of the Games,whenever men’s hockey is mentioned in a tweet posted with the #2011canadagames hashtag, a mention of a province is not far behind. How well a hockey team performed at the Games appeared to also have an influence on the number of tweets a province or territory received, as all four of the provinces that made it to the  hockey finals also made an appearance in our current list of the top five provinces mentioned on Twitter.

The Social Media Lab has been monitoring the #2011CanadaGames Twitter hashtag since Jan 20th. As of February 19th, we have collected over 6,000 messages; 75% of which contained a reference to a specific province, territory or geographical location in Canada. At first glance, this 75%  seems high, however it should not be surprising since the games have attracted participants from every province and territory within Canada.  So in a way, provinces were not just competing for medals, they were also “competing” for attention on Twitter.

As shown in the chart above, the Games started with the Atlantic provinces leading the chart.  By midweek, the ranking started to change drastically – the strong performance by teams from Ontario and Quebec brought out the passion of their loyal fans on Twitter.  As a result, our two most populated provinces, Ontario and Quebec were propelled into the top 5 most mentioned provinces in tweets. Interestingly, despite the series of wins by athletes from Alberta, that province did not have as strong a showing on Twitter, as we had expected. This suggests that wining medals is only but one factor that might influence whether a province is mentioned more or less than another on Twitter.   Another factor, which we noted in an earlier post, that might be influencing whether or not a province was mentioned in tweets is the province geographic proximity to Halifax. For example, as of the middle of the last week, New Brunswick and PEI were still in the top 5 list. The only Atlantic province that did not make the list was Newfoundland and Labrador, which had dropped to 10th place with only 3% of the mentions.

By the end of this past week, more and more tweets were about the hockey semi-finals and finals. As a result, the four provinces that made it to the hockey finals (Ontario, British Columbia, Quebec and Alberta) firmly took their place in the top five most mentioned provinces. Most notably, after winning the gold medal game in hockey, British Columbia rocketed into the 3rd place from 6th most mentioned provinces.

Interestingly, we also found that the proportion of times a province was mentioned on Twitter turned out to be a good approximation for the proportion of twitterers from each province who posted a tweet using the #2011CanadaGames hashtag. This conclusion is based on our analysis of over 800 Twitter users with a self-declared location in their public profiles (see the map below). The only province that did not follow this trend was Quebec. We attribute this discrepancy to the fact that we only analyzed tweets in English and as a result, users from Quebec were underrepresented in our sample.

As of today, Nova Scotia still dominates with the most number of mentions and users, but its dominance has drastically dropped by almost 30% since the start of the Games (from 66% to 37% of the total number of  mentions). This drop is actually positive, because it can be attributed to the fact that other provinces and even other countries (mostly Canadian expats and foreign fans of Sidney Crosby) have joined the conversation about the Games and are actively tweeting about the Games; thus, exemplifying the Canada Games logo: “Unity through sport” and now through Twitter too!

*Philip Mai and Amanda Wilk contributed to the analysis and writing of this report.