Wordclouding the Commission’s tweets

A version of this article was originally published on Waltzing Matilda blog

Writing a 140-character-long bio is challenging. Not only you have to describe who you are in such a short space, but you must also be able to communicate how you want to be perceived. Besides, once you’ve managed to squeeze all this in, you’ve probably not managed to describe what your tweets are actually about. If you are a doctor, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you will tweet only about surgery, the flu or tropical diseases. The same applies to institutions. Mostly, people know who you are and know what you do, but your Twitter activity will hardly be understood merely by reading your bio.

One way to get a quick but comprehensive glimpse of what a profile tweet is about is to produce a word cloud. Word clouds are popular visualizations of words typically associated with Internet keywords and text data. They are most commonly used to highlight popular or trending terms based on frequency of use and prominence.

Word cloud generators are proliferating. Wordle for instance is a great tool to generate word clouds if you already have the list of words you want to play with. Online you can find a few platforms that help you generate word clouds based on a profile’s tweets. I have tested some of them using the European Commission‘s account. Let’s see what came up.

Cloud is created by a Dutch expatriate programmer in Australia. It provides a search string where you can type in keywords, profiles, hashtags etc… with the option of excluding some keywords (equal to the NOT Boolean function). It is pretty basic and the word cloud is quite big which makes it hard to then take a proper screenshot. The words in the word cloud then link you to the corresponding word cloud regenerated by the same platform.

This is what comes up if type in @EU_Commission

Tweet cloud

Tweet cloud is a more thorough tool than Cloud. Firstly, you can select a tweets timeframe which allows you to see your word cloud of the last day, week, month or even years. This brings great added value in performance assessment.

However, there are some pitfalls. For instance, if you type in another profile’s name, to see what this profile tweets about, you can’t see it. As an example I typed in “EU_Commission” from my personal account and according to Tweetcloud “If @EU_Commission is a username they probably never used Tweet Cloud before. If @EU_Commission is just a word it needs to be in someone’s top 5 words to make it on this page.” Ergo, this is not very useful to analyse other profiles’ interests.

It is a free tool but extra features are available if you pay them a Tweet, namely

  • identifies people you mention the most
  • shows related twitter users
  • shows related clouds
  • your account gets displayed when someone mentions or searches you

Nevertheless, it’s not clear how you can access these features and there is no contact form. Thus, nice product but they have a long way to go in terms of user-friendliness. Here is the word cloud generated from the Commission’s account within the timeframe 01 January 2012 until today. You can clearly see mentions of the Nobel Peace Prize and its ceremony, the State of the Union speech and other activities related to the European Year of Citizens.

My Tweet Cloud

My Tweet Cloud allows Twitter users to get a tag cloud generated with hashtags used in their last 200 tweets. They use Twitter API to search hashtags in your tweets and tag clouds can be updated once a day.

The good thing about My Tweet Cloud is that the generated cloud links directly to the hashtags that are highlighted. This is very user-friendly in comparison to the two previous tools. I find the cloud a bit too long (in case you want to provide a screenshot) but it is a minor flaw on a pretty decent free tool. Plus the graphics are quite appealing too.

By looking at the wordcloud generated by inserting @eu_commission you can see highlights from the recent Citizen Dialogue in Coimbra and affiliated hashtags #EUDeb8 #EYC2013 and #EUchat.

Tweet-cloud (Beware this is not Tweet Cloud. notice the extra hyphen in-between the two words)

Tweet-cloud is quite basic and, as it says, it’s currently under construction, but it might be just what you need when wanting to word-cloud a profile’s tweets. In fact, you just need to insert a Twitter profile (or a word, a hashtag whatsoever) and the number of latest tweets you want to look at. After that, Tweet-Cloud links the words that come up in the search directly to Wordle. This way, you have great flexibility playing around with the cloud and customize it as you like. Below you can see a sample made with the Commission’s account

This is the best free tool available to word cloud tweeting activities. Simple, clear, flexible. Nothing to add.

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