Saturday, March 30, 2013

Tutorial- Topsy

There are plenty of tools out there to analyze social media topics and trends. One that Chris and I have found especially helpful in analyzing these large amounts of data is called “Topsy”. He is probably better at understanding all of the cool things it can do, but I will give a short tutorial on the basic information it can provide.

**To be able to try this tutorial, you will need to create a trial account. It is free and it lasts for two weeks, so you’ll have plenty of time to be able to play around with it.

Once you have created your account and have logged in, you will see this as the main screen:

The first thing you will want to do is type in the terms that you want to search for in the bar at the top. After each keyword or phrase, hit enter. In this example, I will search three phrases: “data analysis”, “big data”, and “big data analytics”. To compare the three terms, I need to be sure that the check box beside each phrase (under the search bar) is checked. You will then be looking at your Dashboard. This feature gives an overview of the information Topsy has collected. The timeline shown is based on the last seven days, but you can choose a specific date range if you would like. In this case, my Dashboard looks like this:

On the Dashboard, you are able to see Tweet activity over time. It is easy to see that the phrase “big data” is a lot more prevalent on Twitter than the other two phrases that were searched.  You are also presented with Top Tweets, Top Links, and Top Media.

If you click on the Geography tab at the top, you are able to see where the Tweets are coming from. Topsy is gathering most of its Tweets (at least about these topics) from Twitter users in the US. There are almost 25,000 tweets from the US, and the next closest is the UK with only about 4,000 tweets. You can see the breakdown of the tweets from around the world below:

You can even click on the United States link, and Topsy breaks down the tweets by state. Pretty amazing! Alabama doesn’t have much to say about these topics. There are only 43 tweets with these phrases from Alabama, whereas California has over 3,000. Big data must be a hot topic in Silicon Valley!

Now I am going to go back to the Dasboard. Right around March 29, I see a huge peak in the frequency of the term “big data”. Let’s find out why!
If you click on this peak, it leads me to the Activity tab, where I am able to see a list of the Top Tweets for March 29,I 23:00 about “big data”.  It looks like this:

I am able to click on any links that may be connected to those tweets to read more about what was so popular about “big data” on this day. One of the main tweets that seems to have gotten the most action at this time was about how Doctors can use big data to improve cancer treatments. Since a link is attached to this tweet, I am able to check it out myself!

Like I said, Topsy is a great tool for analyzing the huge amounts of data found in the social media world. These are just a couple of the things that the program can do. I encourage you to check it out and find out more things that this tool can be used for!

PS. I focused mainly on Twitter data in this example, but it is my understanding that you can search Facebook, Tumblr, and Pinterest as well.

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