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TN Senate candidates just as close on Twitter as in polls

Source: WDEF – Nashville

Posted by Brandon Boatwright

Early polls in the Senate race in Tennessee show just how close both candidates are leading up to Election Day. As Republican Marsha Blackburn and Democrat Phil Bredesen vie for a highly contested and equally significant congressional seat, the New York Times recently reported on how social media factors in to some of the most important races leading up to the 2018 Midterms.

The report found that Blackburn got 77,000 more interactions on Facebook over a 30-day period than Bredesen. Alternatively, Bredesen has an overwhelming lead on Instagram, where he got more than three times as many likes and comments as Blackburn.

Source: The New York Times

Twitter analysis was not included in the New York Times article, but with data from the Adam Brown Social Media Command Center, we we able to harvest the number of tweets over the same 30-day span.

The pie chart below shows that 54.4% of the Twitter conversation between the two candidates relates to Bredesen, whereas 45.6% of the conversation is about Blackburn.

The divide in Twitter conversation between Tennessee Senate candidates.

Using Social Studio’s sentiment analysis feature, we were also able to determine the emotional temperature surrounding each of the candidates. Conversation about Blackburn yielded 39.2% positive mentions, 33.6% negative, and 27.2% neutral. Chatter about Bredesen was slightly different. Of the more than 420k mentions about the democratic challenger, 38.2% were negative, 32.7% were positive, and 29.1% were neutral. 

As the campaign continues to unfold, we’ll continue to monitor the online chatter around both candidates.

Yassin’s Falafel is the Nicest Place in America

Post written by Brandon Boatwright

In case you missed it, Knoxville’s own Yassin’s Falafel House was named the Nicest Place in America by Reader’s Digest and appeared on ABC’s Good Morning America today.

We couldn’t be happier for Yassin, and by the looks of the conversation on social media we aren’t the only ones. More than 90-percent of the nearly 600 mentions of Yassin’s before 11 a.m. this morning have been positive.

The word cloud shown below highlights some of the positive language being used to describe Yassin’s Falafel House.

Some of the trending words being used in the online conversation about Yassin’s Falafel House being named the Nicest Place in America.


It’s not surprising to folks in the Knoxville community to see this news. Yassin and his entire family and team are beloved here in large part because of the welcoming environment at each of their two restaurants in town – not to mention their outstanding food! So, it came as no surprise to us to see that the outpouring of support for Yassin’s is coming from Knoxville. But it’s interesting to see how wide-reaching this story has become. The graph below shows where some of the Twitter chatter is originating across the United States and the world.

A bar graph showing the frequency of tweets originating from different places across the U.S. and the world.

Add the Adam Brown Social Media Command Center as one of the many voices online offering our congratulations to Yassin and his team on this well-deserved accolade!

#KavanaughHearings eclipses more than 2 million tweets in 24 hours

Last week we examined the SCOTUS confirmation hearings through a lens of the #MeToo movement with the accusations of sexual assault levied against nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Over the weekend, Senate Judicial Committee members came to terms with Dr. Christine Blasey Ford to testify regarding the allegations. For nearly 10 hours, members of the committee questioned both Ford and Kavanaugh separately on the topic.

The hashtag #KavanaughHearings was used consistently across Twitter over the course of the day. We monitored the conversation in the Adam Brown Social Media Command Center. Below is a gallery of word clouds generated every hour of the hearings to show the evolution of the trending conversation on Twitter.

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The trend line below shows spikes in conversation by hour during the testimony. The majority of the posts came between the hours of 3 p.m. and 4 p.m.


A timeline of #KavanaughHearings reveals that the majority of the conversation occurred between 3 and 4 p.m.

Social Volume Analysis of Natural Disasters

Radar imagery shows Hurricane Florence making landfall.

Post written by Cassandra Huang

We heard many natural disasters recently all over the world. In the middle of this month, Hurricane Florence, a long-lived powerful storm, caused huge damage in the Carolinas. Last week, Typhoon Mangkhut, the strongest storm in the past two decades in southeast Asia, claimed more than thirty lives in China and the Philippines and nearly crushed Hong Kong. This week, Super Typhoon Trami in the western Pacific Ocean, one of the possible strongest typhoon of this year, is approaching Taiwan or southwestern Japan’s Ryukyu Islands.

In the past few years, social media analysis has been applied to yield insights from people’s real-time perceptions of a natural disaster. For example, Mandel, Culotta, Boulahanis, Stark, Lewis, & Rodrigue (2012, June) examined over 650,000 Twitter posts in August 2011 when Hurricane Irene affected the US. They had an interesting research result that female were more likely to have tweets that concerned the disaster than males.

How can we do this kind of analysis to examine social volume of a disaster? Social Studio can definitely help. As you can see below, Social Studio can analyze the change of the volume on social media platforms such as Twitter, and tell us when people post. For example, there were 1.1 million posts on Twitter related to Hurricane Florence during September 14 to 15, and the peak of posts was 10 am on September 14, which was around one hour before landfall.

Timeline of Twitter posts during Hurricane Florence.

And you can also examine what people mentioned the most in their posts, just like the example shows below:

It’s #InternationalDayofPeace

September 21 is #InternationalDayofPeace

Post written by Brandy Mmbaga

If there is one thing we could all use a little more of, IT’S PEACE! (you can say that again!) Well, lucky for us, it’s #INTERNATIONALDAYOFPEACE.

Established in 1981, the United Nations created a day to observe National Peace, or, Peace Day, in efforts to promote humanity. Every year, International Peace Day takes place on 21st of September. The theme for this year is “The Right to Peace – The Universal Declaration of Human Rights at 70.” This refers to the declaration adopted by the UN which was written by a widely diverse set of country representatives and is available in 500 languages. Furthermore, the number 70 as seen in this year’s theme refers to this year’s marking of the 70th anniversary of #InternationalPeaceDay. On the UN’s website, they ask you: “What does “The Right to Peace” mean to you? Share your ideas with us through #peaceday and #standup4humanright.”

For me, the right to peace means that all humans have equal rights and that diversity is embraced.

Social Studio is so awesome. By using it, we can see that 25% of the conversation for Peace Day is happening right here in the US, followed by others such as the United Kingdom, India, New Zealand, Italy and Malaysia. The overall sentiment is 92% positive as people are taking to Twitter all over to express their support and offer their piece on peace.

So, join in on the conversation. The #ABSMCC sends peaceful vibes to you on this #InternationalPeaceDay.

SCOTUS hearings bring resurgence of #MeToo posts

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh prepares to testify during the third day of his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, September 6, 2018. REUTERS/Alex Wroblewski

Post written by Brandon Boatwright

In light of recent accusations made against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, the use of #MeToo on Twitter has risen more than 425-percent over a seven day span.

Kavanaugh’s accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, alleges that he sexually assaulted her during a party in 1982. As the Senate Judiciary Committee weighs its options on how the accusation will affect Kavanaugh’s nomination proceedings, #MeToo has resurfaced on social media with renewed vigor.

Tweets using #MeToo spiked on Sept. 16, the same day Kavanaugh was accused of sexual assault.

The #MeToo movement gained significant media attention last fall, and some estimates suggest that more than 6.5 million tweets using the hashtag were sent between October 2017 and January 2018. According to our data, #MeToo was used more than 383,000 times over the course of the last seven days alone.

As more and more stories of sexual assault and harassment continue to surface, many on social media are issuing a call to action. The Kavanaugh nomination notwithstanding, it remains obvious that much more needs to be done in order to address the underlying systemic factors that enable such egregious acts. The sheer volume of tweets mentioning #MeToo is astounding. Perhaps even more significant is the hashtag’s longevity as a social movement.

A word-cloud shows the frequently most used words and phrases associated with #MeToo during the Kavanaugh hearings.

Twitter and other social platforms have become widely popular tools among activist groups looking to upend the status quo. Such was the case during the Arab Spring in 2010 and the emergence of #BlackLivesMatter.

As social media continue to serve as vehicles for social change, it’s important to monitor how these ongoing conversations not only identify a problem, but also contribute to actionable solutions.


Trump’s Tariffs

Posted by James Zhang

According to news reports, in response to the President Trump’s announcement of new import taxes on $200 billion in Chinese goods, the Chinese government will plan to retaliate by imposing new tariffs on $60 billion in U.S. exports. What does the American public say about this escalated trade war between the two largest economies?

Across Twitter, regarding Trump’s Tariffs, the volume of conversation is high. More than 76,000 tweets indicates that the public is knowingly concerned with the escalated trade war between the U.S. and China. The conversation on Twitter reached a peak (25,000 tweets) on Monday, September 18, when President Trump announced new import taxes on $200 billion in Chinese goods.

Regarding the issue of Trump’s tariffs, the chatter on Twitter is centered around the following key words: Trump, China, trade, tariffs, and economy.

Overall, the majority of Twitter users reacted to Trump’s tariffs in a negative way. A sentiment analysis on those tweets illuminates that more than two thirds of Twitter users hold a negative attitude toward the escalated trade war between the U.S. and China.

One of the most trending tweets regarding to the trade war is about China’s reaction to Trump’s tariffs and how the U.S. will react if China retaliated. The World Trade Organization (WTO)’s mediating role in de-escalating the trade war between the U.S. and China is also a part of conversation.

The economy is one of the most hotly debated topics on social media. With the trade war between the U.S. and China being escalated, the public will continue to focus their attention on how tariffs will affect the price of popular products, consumers, the stock market, andthe Trump administration’s foreign policy.

ABSMCC Partners with Other Universities to Form ‘Social Analytics Consortium’

The Adam Brown Social Media Command Center has partnered with social analytics labs from universities across the country to form the Social Analytics Consortium (SAC). The SAC was established to foster and advance interdisciplinary communication research collaboration and enhance pedagogical skills in the field of social analytics.

As part of our continued effort to be leaders in this emerging field, the ABSMCC is excited to partner with researchers from universities across the country to provide resources for scholarly and pedagogical advancements in big data analysis and social media metrics.

The SAC was established as a collaborative effort among existing social analytics labs in higher education settings to explore issues related to social media research, pedagogy, facility management, professional development, and lobbying efforts. Moreover, as businesses and organizations are increasingly trying to use data to inform decision-making processes, the SAC was organized as a means for researchers to address some of the most pressing challenges associated with gathering, assessing, and making sense out of the social media landscape.

The SAC was developed by researchers from the University of Tennessee, Clemson University, Illinois State University, Ohio University, and the University of Akron. More information about the respective labs from each of these universities can be found on the SAC’s website.

Queries about the ABSMCC’s role in the newly established SAC can be directed to Dr. Courtney Childers, Executive Director of the ABSMCC, or Brandon Boatwright, Graduate Associate.

Happy New Year!

We hope everyone enjoyed the holiday season and that your new year is off to a great start! As we look forward to 2018, we want to make sure you’re aware of all the great opportunities in the ABSMCC this spring semester. Here’s a look at what you can expect:


Interested in learning more about the ABSMCC or Social Studio technology? Drop in during assistant-in-residence hours to talk with one of our graduate students that will be able to answer any of your questions. You don’t need to make an appointment – just show up to 460 COMM during any of the days/times listed below:

  • Mondays 10:00am-11:30am
  • Tuesdays 2:00pm-3:30pm
  • Wednesdays 3:00pm-5:00pm


Social media analytics reflect a rapidly growing trend in communication research and practice. We are thrilled to provide software demonstrations to classes, staff, and faculty members interested in learning more about the various applications and opportunities Social Studio has to offer. Reach out to Dr. Courtney Childers or Brandon Boatwright to schedule a demonstration.


As we keep up with the most relevant social media chatter of the day, we like to post some of what we find on our Twitter and Instagram feeds. Have suggestions for conversations we should look into? Send us a message!

We’re looking forward to a busy and exciting year in 2018. We’ll be sure to keep you in the loop!

Vols welcome Jeremy Pruitt to Rocky Top

The wait is over, and Vol fans are excited to welcome the University of Tennessee’s 26th head football coach.

Word broke Thursday morning that former University of Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt had finalized a deal to become the Vols’ new head coach. The story gained traction quickly on social media, as more than 75,000 mentions of coach Pruitt extracted across various platforms (97-percent on Twitter) in a 24-hour span. We have been monitoring the conversation online as Pruitt landed and met with Athletic Director Phillip Fulmer.

It’s an exciting time here in Knoxville, and Vol fans have voiced their support for the hiring decision through social media. In all, 72-percent of the posts mentioning Pruitt have been positive in nature. As you can see in the graph below, there has been a huge spike in positive mentions since the story broke.

As the news continues to develop and the staff begins to take shape, we’ll keep monitoring what social media has to say about the direction of the UT football program. But based on what we’ve seen in the last 24-hours, there’s plenty of reason for Tennessee football fans to be excited!



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