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Mapping a National Twittersphere: 
A ‘Big Data’ Analys is of 
Australian Twitter User Networks 
Axel Bruns, Darryl Woodford, Troy Sadkowsky, and Tim Highfield 
Social Media Research Group 
Queensland University of Technology 
Brisbane, Australia 
a.bruns / dp.woodford / t.sadkowsky / t.highfield @ qut.edu.au 
@snurb_dot_info / @dpwoodford / @tsadkowsky / @timhighfield
THE AUSTRALIAN TWITTERSPHERE 
• Twitter in Australia: 
– Strong take-up since 2009 
– Centred around 25-55 age range, urban, educated, affluent users (but gradually broadening) 
– Significant role in crisis communication, political communication, audience engagement, … 
• Mapping the Twittersphere: 
– Long-term project to identify all Australian Twitter accounts 
– First iteration: snowball crawl of follower/followee networks 
• Starting with key hashtag populations (#auspol, #spill, …) 
• Map of ~1m accounts in early 2012 
– Second iteration: full crawl of global Twitter ID numberspace through to Sep. 2013 
(~870m accounts) 
• Filtering by description, location, timezone fields 
• Focus on identifiably Australian cities, states, timezones and other markers 
• 2.8 million Australian accounts identified (by Sep. 2013) 
• Retrieval of their follower/followee lists 
• Best guess of account location based on timezone, location and description settings
MAPPING THE AUSTRALIAN USERBASE 
• Mapping the Twittersphere: 
– Filtered to include only accounts with (followers + followees) >= 1000 
• 140k accounts, 22.8m follower/followee connections within this group 
– Mapped using Gephi Force Atlas 2 algorithm (LinLog mode, scaling 0.0001, gravity 0.5) 
– Qualitative interpretation of network clusters based on high-degree nodes in each cluster 
– Exploration of key profile statistics (join date, number of tweets, tweeting rate) 
• Activity Patterns: 
– Data gathered on selected tweeting activities (hashtag participation, link sharing, …) 
– Data filtered for participating accounts included in the 140k most connected users 
– Data superimposed on underlying network map 
• Applications: 
– Combined analysis of network structures and tweeting activities 
– Evaluation of user engagement across topics 
– Comparative benchmarking across activities
GROWTH OVER TIME
Education 
Agriculture 
Literature 
Adelaide / SA 
Food 
Wine 
Beer 
Leftists Hard Right 
Netizens 
Politics 
Journalists 
Marketing 
Mums PR 
Parenting 
Real Estate 
Investing 
Home Business 
Sole Traders 
Self-Help 
HR / Support 
NRL 
Followback 
Urban Media 
Utilities 
Advertising 
Business 
TV 
Fashion 
Beauty 
Arts 
Cinema 
News 
TalkbackCycling 
Music 
V8s 
UFC 
AFL 
Football 
Horse Racing 
Cricket 
NRU 
Celebrities 
Hillsong 
Perth 
Pop 
Media 
Teen Idols 
Cody Simpson 
THE AUSTRALIAN TWITTERSPHERE
PROTECTED (~3.5%)
VERIFIED (~1.8%)
NUMBER OF TWEETS
ACCOUNT AGE
ACCOUNTS CREATED IN 2006
ACCOUNTS CREATED IN 2007
ACCOUNTS CREATED IN 2008
ACCOUNTS CREATED IN 2009
ACCOUNTS CREATED IN 2010
ACCOUNTS CREATED IN 2011
ACCOUNTS CREATED IN 2012
ACCOUNTS CREATED IN 2013
LOCATION
USER ENGAGEMENT PATTERNS 
• Datasets included: 
– Q&A: political talkshow, Australian Broadcasting Corporation – #qanda, qanda (3 Sep. to 7 Oct. 2014) 
– Big Brother: reality TV, Nine Network – #BBAU, #BBAU9, @BBAU9, #bigbrotherau (3 Sep. to 7 Oct. 2014) 
– AFL Grand Final: Seven Network – #AFLGF, AFL, HAWvSYD … (27 Sep. 2014, tracked since 26 Sep.) 
– ABC News: main public broadcaster – abc.net.au (since June 2012) 
– news.com.au: mainstream news site – news.com.au (since June 2012) 
– Daily Telegraph: tabloid newspaper – dailytelegraph.com.au (since June 2012) 
– The Conversation: university-supported opinion site – theconversation.edu.au/.com (since June 2012)
AFL GRAND FINAL
Q&A
BIG BROTHER
ABC NEWS
NEWS.COM.AU
DAILY TELEGRAPH
THE CONVERSATION
FUTURE DIRECTIONS 
• Mapping the Australian Twittersphere: 
– Further analysis of network structures 
– Identification of key accounts / roles (influencers, opinion leaders, bridging nodes, …) 
– Exploration of activity patterns across different clusters 
– Examination of structural changes over time 
– Exploration of network patterns beyond top users 
• The Twittersphere map as background information: 
– Footprints of specific social media practices / mainstream media entities 
– Reactions to specific events across different clusters 
– Viral dissemination of information across the network 
• Beyond Australia: 
– Maps of Norway and Germany currently in progress…
http://mappingonlinepublics.net/ 
@snurb_dot_info 
@dpwoodford 
@katieprowd 
@tsadkowsky 
@timhighfield 
@jeanburgess 
@socialmediaQUT – http://socialmedia.qut.edu.au/ 
This research is funded by the Australian Research Council through Future Fellowship and LIEF 
grants FT130100703 and LE140100148.

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Mapping a National Twittersphere: A 'Big Data' Analysis of Australian Twitter User Networks

  • 1. Mapping a National Twittersphere: A ‘Big Data’ Analys is of Australian Twitter User Networks Axel Bruns, Darryl Woodford, Troy Sadkowsky, and Tim Highfield Social Media Research Group Queensland University of Technology Brisbane, Australia a.bruns / dp.woodford / t.sadkowsky / t.highfield @ qut.edu.au @snurb_dot_info / @dpwoodford / @tsadkowsky / @timhighfield
  • 2. THE AUSTRALIAN TWITTERSPHERE • Twitter in Australia: – Strong take-up since 2009 – Centred around 25-55 age range, urban, educated, affluent users (but gradually broadening) – Significant role in crisis communication, political communication, audience engagement, … • Mapping the Twittersphere: – Long-term project to identify all Australian Twitter accounts – First iteration: snowball crawl of follower/followee networks • Starting with key hashtag populations (#auspol, #spill, …) • Map of ~1m accounts in early 2012 – Second iteration: full crawl of global Twitter ID numberspace through to Sep. 2013 (~870m accounts) • Filtering by description, location, timezone fields • Focus on identifiably Australian cities, states, timezones and other markers • 2.8 million Australian accounts identified (by Sep. 2013) • Retrieval of their follower/followee lists • Best guess of account location based on timezone, location and description settings
  • 3. MAPPING THE AUSTRALIAN USERBASE • Mapping the Twittersphere: – Filtered to include only accounts with (followers + followees) >= 1000 • 140k accounts, 22.8m follower/followee connections within this group – Mapped using Gephi Force Atlas 2 algorithm (LinLog mode, scaling 0.0001, gravity 0.5) – Qualitative interpretation of network clusters based on high-degree nodes in each cluster – Exploration of key profile statistics (join date, number of tweets, tweeting rate) • Activity Patterns: – Data gathered on selected tweeting activities (hashtag participation, link sharing, …) – Data filtered for participating accounts included in the 140k most connected users – Data superimposed on underlying network map • Applications: – Combined analysis of network structures and tweeting activities – Evaluation of user engagement across topics – Comparative benchmarking across activities
  • 5. Education Agriculture Literature Adelaide / SA Food Wine Beer Leftists Hard Right Netizens Politics Journalists Marketing Mums PR Parenting Real Estate Investing Home Business Sole Traders Self-Help HR / Support NRL Followback Urban Media Utilities Advertising Business TV Fashion Beauty Arts Cinema News TalkbackCycling Music V8s UFC AFL Football Horse Racing Cricket NRU Celebrities Hillsong Perth Pop Media Teen Idols Cody Simpson THE AUSTRALIAN TWITTERSPHERE
  • 10.
  • 20. USER ENGAGEMENT PATTERNS • Datasets included: – Q&A: political talkshow, Australian Broadcasting Corporation – #qanda, qanda (3 Sep. to 7 Oct. 2014) – Big Brother: reality TV, Nine Network – #BBAU, #BBAU9, @BBAU9, #bigbrotherau (3 Sep. to 7 Oct. 2014) – AFL Grand Final: Seven Network – #AFLGF, AFL, HAWvSYD … (27 Sep. 2014, tracked since 26 Sep.) – ABC News: main public broadcaster – abc.net.au (since June 2012) – news.com.au: mainstream news site – news.com.au (since June 2012) – Daily Telegraph: tabloid newspaper – dailytelegraph.com.au (since June 2012) – The Conversation: university-supported opinion site – theconversation.edu.au/.com (since June 2012)
  • 21.
  • 23. Q&A
  • 29. FUTURE DIRECTIONS • Mapping the Australian Twittersphere: – Further analysis of network structures – Identification of key accounts / roles (influencers, opinion leaders, bridging nodes, …) – Exploration of activity patterns across different clusters – Examination of structural changes over time – Exploration of network patterns beyond top users • The Twittersphere map as background information: – Footprints of specific social media practices / mainstream media entities – Reactions to specific events across different clusters – Viral dissemination of information across the network • Beyond Australia: – Maps of Norway and Germany currently in progress…
  • 30. http://mappingonlinepublics.net/ @snurb_dot_info @dpwoodford @katieprowd @tsadkowsky @timhighfield @jeanburgess @socialmediaQUT – http://socialmedia.qut.edu.au/ This research is funded by the Australian Research Council through Future Fellowship and LIEF grants FT130100703 and LE140100148.