I know what you’re thinking, “not another Royal baby article”!  Fear not, there’s no baby-name speculation here, this is a detailed dive into the life of a Twitter hashtag and how trends such as #royalbaby can be measured worldwide.

We’ve used data from Topsy.com, and our own sources to come up with an analysis of the #royalbaby hashtag across the globe, comparing it to other popular events to see how the trend compared, and to discover the make up of the tweet volume.

First up, let’s look at the overall #royalbaby usage on Twitter.  This graph tracks the hashtag from just before it was announced that Kate Middleton had arrived at hospital, through to 12 noon on the 24th (day after they left the hospital).  In total there were 1.7m tweets containing the hashtag in this period.  #royalbaby was the most popular hashtag used, but there were others circulating such as #royalcongrats, #itsaboy, and #princewilliam which took the overall tweet count way over 2m.

As you can see, the hashtag usage largely corresponds with the events, with the first spike being at the time of the announcement that the baby had been born and that it was a boy, and the second coming as the couple left the hospital on Tuesday evening.  This is all fairly standard, but where it gets a little more interesting is when you compare the volume and lifespan of the hashtag compared to other large UK based events.

This graph shows the usage of the hashtag compared to other recently big hashtags (#woolwich, for the recent terrorist attack, and #wimbledon – with a focus on the final of the competition).  As you can see, #woolwich never hits the heights of the other two, perhaps due to the nature of the event and a more disparate use of hashtags.   Wimbledon, on the other hand, sees a nice build up to the final, and then a peak beyond that of the #royalbaby announcement.  The #royalbaby lifespan is naturally longer, due to the twin peak of the event, and should continue to rumble on with the wait and then announcement of a name. 

In terms of sentiment, #royalbaby tweets were positive 78% of the time, whereas #wimbledon for instance was 80% positive.  Sentiment analysis is never 100% accurate, however this shows that this wasn’t the complete outpouring of joy that the traditional media would have you believe. 

A lot has been made in the online world about how Twitter users in the States have been more excited about the birth than their counterparts in the UK.  This is based on sheer volume of tweets as shown above.  This is a little basic though, so we’ve decided to add a little relevance. Unfortunately, Twitter aren’t particularly forthcoming with their users numbers by country, so instead we’ve based the number of Tweets as a percentage of each countries total population.  Naturally, this is slightly inaccurate and doesn’t account for multiple tweets per user, the percentage of the population online, and the percentage on Twitter, but it’s about the best there is to go on without Twitter country data. 

Cutting the data this way shows that proportionately the UK had the highest tweet rate (as a percentage of the population) for #royalbaby.  Ireland, somewhat surprisingly, was second, followed by the US and then the other large English speaking nations.

Using data in this way, we can also see that within the UK, people in England were far more active (proportionately) in using #royalbaby than their counterparts in Scotland, Wales & Northern Ireland.

This event highlights once more the power of Twitter to spread a message (Topsy estimates that #royalbaby had 5.9bn impressions on Twitter!). It’s also an important measure to compare other trends to on the platform.  As we can see, it didn’t have the highest peak in terms of hashtag usage, even compared to recent sporting events, but it has created a buzz and it seems to be lasting longer than normal – partially due to the drawn out nature of the event and subsequent announcements.

The country data analysis is interesting, and when adding relevance this allows us to show which countries are truly interested on average in the Royal birth.  When studying any data, not just from social, it is always important to add context and relevance, and adding this in brings up some interesting results, such as users in the Republic of Ireland being the second highest sharers of the hashtag when looked at as a proportion of the total population.

We’ll keep an eye on how this develops, and the subsequent social media fails as brands clamber to capitalise on real-time marketing opportunities over the next few weeks, but there’s no doubt that this is the world’s most popular birth, and an interesting social case study!


Photo credit: Steve Rhodes via photopin cc