The Government Office for Science in the United Kingdom published a report which examines the potential of distributed ledger technology which blockchain uses. They also released a video which nicely summaries blockchain technology. It is well worth watching for anyone unfamiliar with blockchain.
Twitter can be argued to serve as a media monitoring tool and provides immediate insight into public views and opinions. Many tools to analyse Twitter data have emerged, and a powerful tool for the analysis of Twitter data is known as Visibrain which has access to the Twitter Firehose API (i.e., almost 100% of tweets). Some have even suggested social media could be used to predict the price of certain crypto-currencies.
Blockchain receives over 6 million tweets a month on Twitter and as our focus is to examine potential uses of the technology we devised keywords to extract insight specifically into the potential applications of blockchain technology.
The keyword string consisted of “Blockchain (applications OR application OR app)”. Figure 1 below displays the volume of tweets which are generated related to the potential of blockchain technologies in the previous 30 days.
Figure 1 – Volume of tweets related to blockchain applications
A large amount of content is generated and a fairly large number of unique users are interested in the applications of blockchain. Visibrain also tells us that at least 8,109 articles have been shared related to this topic on Twitter over the previous 30 days.
Using Visibrain it is also possible to dig into the locations of people tweeting , and figure 2 below shows this.
Figure 2 – Geographic distribution of Twitter users
What is immediately striking about this is that at least 10,877 tweets were from users from the Russian Federation. This is rare because typically Russia accounts for a very low amount of tweets on other topics. Additionally, it was interesting to see that users from at least 196 countries were tweeting about this topic over the previous 30 days. This highlights the global nature of blockchain technologies. The gender ratio suggested more males (64%) than females (36%) were tweeting.
It is also possible to extract information related to the occupation of users tweeting, as highlighted by figure 3 below.
Figure 3 – Occupation of users tweeting
The occupations of entrepreneur, founder, and business may appear due to the potential of crypto-currency as investment, and also because of the wider appeal of blockchain.
It is also possible to examine hashtags which are used and figure 4 below provides insight into some of the hashtags that were used.
Figure 4 – Hashtags used in this set of tweets
It is interesting to see ‘#cnntoken’ appear among the most used hashtags. This relates to the Content Neutrality Network a Blockchain-based Content Ecosystem.
Some of the most popular tweets on this topic (containing the highest impressions) are listed in figure 5 below.
Figure 5 – Top 2 tweets by impressions
The first tweet related to Digitize Coin’s mobile application which is implementing a new feature, and it received over 16 million impressions. Followed by this it was an account by Node Haven related to Blockchain hardware and an upcoming blockchain conference. This tweet received over 12 million impressions. Impressions are a figure which tell us how many times a tweet appeared on a Twitter feed.
I would also recommend examining the NodeXL Graph gallery for a network graph on the applications of blockchain. Figure 6 below displays Twitter activity over the previous day related to the potential applications of blockchain technology.
Figure 6 – NodeXL network graph
There are a couple of interesting takeaways from examining the graph above and also by examining the metrics on the graph gallery:
- One aspect is that certain users and accounts are link-baiting by using the hashtag ‘blockchain’ which is not surprising as it is a popular topic.
- Another interesting finding was that the graph appeared to contain many references to ‘cryptocurrency which highlights its popularity as an application of blockchain.
- A further interesting aspect was how the graph from G6 onwards to G55 contained smaller pockets of discussion between users surrounding events, news, and applications of blockchain. This highlights its broad appeal and vast potential of the technology.
Overall it was possible to gain insight into some of the potential uses of blockchain as shared on Twitter. These included crypto-currencies, smart-contracts, hardware, dating apps, supply chain, ride sharing, voting systems, retail, digital marketing, medicine, travel, and verification among many more. Future work will seek to perform a more in-depth analysis of this data using a mix of quantitative and qualitative methods.