If you are on Twitter, you have probably tweeted your travels too.
Researcher Tobias Brandt of Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University
has discovered that analysing such messages
can reveal a citys known and unexpected hot spots,
and the reasons for visiting them.
This can help the city with deciding where to best direct their efforts
to develop and support tourism.
we analysed 600.000 tweets for San Francisco that were all geo-tagged.
So, for each of these tweets we can say exactly
when and where it was sent from.
If you are a tourist in a city, you tweet in a different manner
than if you are just a resident there.
If you are a resident there, you say 'Ok, I am at Starbucks, drinking my coffee',
and that's it, just the text message with your update.
But if you are a tourist, you may add much more information to the tweet.
You may add a picture or something like that.
The purpose of the analysis that we did,
was to find out how we can use this information
to really create value for people in the city,
for policy makers, but also for businesses.
In our first analysis, we simply looked at all of these tweets.
And of course, this can already provide
some value to policy makers, to businesses,
simply to get and understanding at which time, in which location
a lot of activity is going on.
We then mapped those locations where people are most likely to attach a picture or a video to their tweet.
This contains a very different piece of information
than if you just look at densities of tweets.
It could be, for instance, locations that are difficult to reach,
but once you are they are very pretty, very scenic.
And of course, for policy makers
this would be interesting to develop as a touristic destination in the city.
On the other hand, for providers of guided tours or something like that,
this can be an interesting destination on their tours.
We then analysed the topics that people discussed in their tweets,
and how these topics relate to particular locations in the city.
So for instance, they might talk about sports events,
or about concerts or conferences.
And this can be very interesting with respect to marketing activities.
Do you place your billboards or advertising campaigns really in those areas
where people actually talk about the event that is going to happen.
Overall, combining these three methods can give public administrations, but also businesses
a better understanding of the tourists that visit their cities.
This helps both businesses and public administrations to target their investments
for specific hotspots.
Of course, this method is not limited to Twitter.
In principle it can be used for any social media service,
as long as you have geo-tagged messages.
You can use this method with Facebook messages,
Instagram pictures, or with Flickr.