Hundreds of millions of conversations happen on Twitter every day, conversations driven by influential people who are the first to talk about and share things.
We wanted to dive deep into what people talk about, so we analysed billions of Tweets over four years in the US and UK to uncover the fastest-evolving areas of conversation that represent fundamental shifts in culture.
Conversations rarely happen in vacuums. People naturally congregate into groups or connect with like-minded others. Towards the end of 2019 we conducted a groundbreaking study to uncover the communities that thrive on Twitter and drive conversation. The analysis uncovered 75 communities. These are ‘persistent’ — the ones that exist above and beyond a particular movement, moment, or fad. The communities we uncovered ranged from the large expected communities such as Football Twitter or Gaming Twitter to unexpected communities such as Cheese Twitter, Health Twitter, and a variety of professional communities.
People in communities share an interest, context, or experience. In turn they share their thoughts, humour, and many conversations on Twitter. As they do this, they inadvertently go about building culture.
Conversation can tell us what matters to people, what they care about, and how this is changing over time. Therefore, Twitter is a window into culture. It drives culture and it also reflects culture.
This process started with looking as broadly as possible using the top 3,000 hashtags as a construct to map themes of conversation. We then used human coding and machine learning to detect conversations happening within these themes, looking for significant growth areas or big changes in the context of conversation over time. We purposely removed topics like politics, TV, and sports that are reactionary and already well-known. We were looking to unearth things we didn’t know that we didn’t know … the everyday changes in how people think, feel, and behave.
What we found were six big themes where there was huge growth or change in the context of the conversation. We compiled this into three trends per theme.
Eighteen trends in total.
The focus of conversation around health has shifted from the outside in, as people increasingly use the terms “well being” and “self-care”, a 233% increase. There has been a fundamental shift away from things like physical appearance, dieting, detox, and pills to holistic methods, mental well being, and community.
Knowledge, access, and macro phenomenons like climate change have driven a sense of fascination and intrigue about our planet and beyond, which is in turn creating a new take on spirituality. Conversation around meaning and wonder has increased by 199%.
The conversation around sustainability has been a steady drumbeat for some time, increasing by 151%. But the nature of that conversation is changing significantly to be much more tangible, with mentions of ‘action’ or ‘innovation’ increasing by 501%.
Makers, builders, and entrepreneurs have joined artists, writers, and musicians in the creative arena. They’re actively blurring the lines between work and personal passions, reimagining the day job, and pushing creativity into mainstream culture. People talking about their creative outlets have increased by 293%.
People are excited about the future of technology, with a 194% increase in conversation around this. They’re imagining the possibilities of a more connected and efficient world, talking about tech in relation to their homes, cities, shopping, entertainment, and education, but with this also comes some angst as people concern themselves with the negative sides of tech and AI particular.
The concept of identity is broader than ever, and people have never felt more empowered to be their true selves and make their own rules, with mentions of ‘identity’ increasing by 192%. They’re living out loud, sharing their passions, breaking stereotypes, and demanding more from society on issues of gender and diversity.
People make Twitter. Check out the conversations shaping culture.