[Guide] The Social Media Management Maturity Model

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Published August 27th 2020

How to Analyze Social Data Using Geofence Queries

What does social conversation at famous locations look like before, during, and after lockdown?

Brandwatch Consumer Research now lets you search for or filter social posts that were posted in a specific area.

Using the latitude: and longitude: operators you can create geofence queries that collect all posts or search for specific conversations that occur within a rectangular area that you define.

This opens up a whole host of new possibilities such as:

  • Comparing consumer conversations at different store locations, transport hubs, or shopping centers
  • Tracking live reactions to events
  • Or even discovering where your brand logo appears at famous landmarks

We took a look at two famous places – the Eiffel Tower and Milan’s Malpensa International Airport – to see how geolocation searches can help us understand changes in activity before and after France and Italy imposed lockdowns due to Covid-19.

The results provide a fascinating insight into the changing social footprint of two usually busy destinations.

Eiffel Tower, Paris

Our query for the area around Paris’ most famous landmark looks like this:

latitude:[48.855 TO 48.862] AND longitude:[2.29 TO 2.3]

Tip: You can tweak your query to make sure you’re collecting data in just the right location by starting with a broader area in your initial query, looking at your data in a geotagged map component, then pasting the query into the search bar and changing your coordinate boundaries bit by bit. Once you find just the right sets of coordinates, you can update your query.

Here’s what our data looks like on a geotagged map.

And here’s how the volume of posts looks over time. Immediately, the impact of the coronavirus is visible – you can see when France first imposed strict lockdown around March 17 and when the Eiffel Tower was reopened to visitors on June 25, after which mentions slowly climb.

Notice the spikes in the period before the pandemic hit. Those are New Year’s Eve and Valentine’s Day, two occasions when people flock to the iconic (and romantic) landmark. Bastille Day (July 14) also came with a spike, but a much less dramatic one in the days after lockdown easing. Paris, and tourism in Paris in particular, still feels a long way from ‘back to normal’.

Who’s posting from the Eiffel tower?

If you break the data down by language you notice an interesting, if expected, trend.

A higher proportion of posts were in French after lockdown began while posts in other languages dropped a lot more markedly. This indicates that there might be fewer tourists from abroad making up the people visiting the area, while current visitors may be staycationers. The disappearance of posts in Japanese is particularly notable, suggesting that Japanese tourists are staying at home this summer as they compare the situation in Europe to Japan.

Looking at topics of conversation before, during, and after the tower was closed tells another fascinating story.

On the left you see the usual topics and emojis of people sharing selfies from the top of the tower, and it is starting to look similar on the right after the reopening.

During lockdown, though, the posts look quite different. Some familiar hashtags stand out. There are locals posting about #coronavirus and sharing pictures of the empty streets. And then there are posts such as this one from politician Danièle Obono where demonstrators gathered to show support for the #BlackLivesMatter movement.

Milan Malpensa International Airport

How does this analysis compare for a different kind of location? We took a look at Milan’s largest airport, in the first area of Europe to be severely impacted by the coronavirus.

We found a very similar looking timeline. Italy imposed strict lockdowns and stopped all but critical flights from Milan between March and June.

Once again, the local language becomes more dominant in the conversation as there seem to be fewer international travellers even after flights have restarted.

Looking into the topics and individual posts during lockdown, you can discover some interesting stories from on the ground. One air traffic controller posted a series during the strangely quiet period at work, while a whole bunch of opportunistic taxi drivers promoted their businesses to the few passengers arriving who wouldn’t be taking public transport.

These two topic clouds showing emojis and locations feel like the most evocative sign of how different the (social) life of the airport is before and after the impact of the coronavirus.

On the left you can see the colorful array of flags from around the world shared by Italians jetting off on vacations, leaving behind the arriving tourists excited about their first glass of Lombardian wine and a slice of pizza. On the right, it’s a subdued collection, with few locals getting away to other parts of Italy and a few as far as Greece. Life has certainly not returned to ‘normal’ at Milan Malpensa.

Geofence searches let you pinpoint social data in specific places and times to uncover insights about changing consumer behaviors. Book a meeting with our experts today to see them in action.

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