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Social Media in Australia: The Case of Twitter
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Social Media in Australia: The Case of Twitter


Presented at the Australian Teachers of Media 2013 conference masterclass on Social Media, 4 July 2013.

Presented at the Australian Teachers of Media 2013 conference masterclass on Social Media, 4 July 2013.

Published in Education , Technology , Business
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  • 1. Social Media in Australia: The Case of Twitter Assoc. Prof. Axel Bruns ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation Queensland University of Technology @snurb_dot_info
  • 2. WHY TWITTER? • Researching Twitter: – Significant world-wide social network – ~600+ million accounts (but how many active?) • 2-2.5m accounts in Australia, predominant age range 25-55 years – Varied range of uses: from phatic communication to emergency coordination – Especially important as a real-time communication medium – Healthy third-party ecosystem (for now) – Strong history of user innovation: @replies, #hashtags – Flat and open network structure: non-reciprocal following, public profiles by default – Good API for gathering (big) data for research
  • 3. #SPILL Gillard announces ballot Shorten supports Rudd Rudd wins ballot Gillard press conference Rudd press conference
  • 4. #SPILL (
  • 8. SOCIAL MEDIA, POLITICS, AND TEACHING • Teaching social media: – Social media are now well-established in the media ecology – Debates of mainstream vs. social media are passé – For some media professions, tools such as Twitter are now essential – Few students going into media professions will find jobs without having strong social media knowledge • Social media and the wider media ecology: – Key roles especially around breaking news and unfolding crises – Also important backchannel to television and mainstream news – Mainstream journalism vs. citizen journalism debate is over – But: significant digital divides remain – demographics, skills, devices
  • 9. THE AUSTRALIAN TWITTERSPHERE? Follower/followee network: ~120,000 Australian Twitter users (of ~950,000 known accounts by early 2012) colour = outdegree, size = indegree
  • 10. THEMATIC CLUSTERS Perth Marketing / PR Design Web Creative Farming Agriculture Hardline Conservatives Conservatives Journalists ALP Progressives Greens News Opinion News NGOs Social Policy IT Tech Social Media Tech PR Advertising Real Estate Property Jobs HR Business Business Property Parenting Mums Craft Arts Food Wine Beer Adelaide Social ICTs Creative Design Fashion Beauty Utilities Services Net Culture Books Literature Publishing Film Theatre Arts Radio TV Music Dance Hip Hop Triple J Talkback Breakfast TV CelebritiesCycling Union NRL Football Cricket AFL Swimming V8s Evangelicals Teaching e-Learning Schools Christians Hillsong Teens Jonas Bros. Beliebers @KRuddMP @JuliaGillard (
  • 11. TWITTER AND/IN THE MEDIA ECOLOGY (total volume: 2.2m tweets)
  • 13. SOCIAL MEDIA AND SOCIETY • The public sphere on / of / and social media: – Social media are now a key space for publics to form: – How do these publics relate to the wider public sphere? • Do they represent it (or parts of it)? • Do they influence it? Are they influenced by it? • ad hoc publics, often rapidly forming and dissolving macro: #hashtags • personal publics, accumulating slowly and relatively stable meso: follower networks • interpersonal communication, ephemeral micro: @replies (Bruns & Moe, 2013)
  • 14. BIG BIG DATA: THE FIRST MILLION TWITTER IDS Twitter IDs 1-1,000,000 (48,000 accounts still in existence) (see
  • 15. TWITTER AS A SOURCE OF DATA Geographical distribution of 1 million new account IDs (~ 422.000 existing accounts), newly registered on 18/19 Mar. 2013, 16:00-01:00 UTC ( 1-1.5m new users/day)
  • 16. SOCIAL MEDIA AND / AS BIG DATA • ‘Big Data’: – Increasingly important field of research and development – Significant applications from science to public services – Social media are a key source of big data on society – Many important questions about ethics and privacy yet to be addressed • ‘Big Data’ jobs in the media industries: – Data journalists to support complex investigative reporting – Data analysts for market research, policy development, … – Data scientists to build ‘big data’ tools and applications
  • 17. ‘BIG DATA’ AND RESEARCH SKILLS • Researchers need interdisciplinary skill sets: – Media & communication to understand the media environment – Maths and statistics to deal with ‘big data’ – Computer science to develop tools to process social media data – Communication design to develop effective visualisations – Writing and communication skills to communicate the results – … – Where do we find them? (few people have such a diverse range of skills) – How do we support their work? (we’re only just developing our methods and tools) – What is our strategy for dealing with precarity? (sudden API changes, changing fortunes of platforms, …)
  • 18. @snurb_dot_info @jeanburgess @dpwoodford @tsadkowsky @lena_sauter @timhighfield @cdtavijit @socialmediaQUT