Last Wednesday, Twitter reminded me it was my 15th anniversary. It seemed a bit surreal; 15 years is a lot of time. Considering I’m turning 45 soon, I’ve had a Twitter account for one-third of my life.
It felt momentous. I had to mark the occasion somehow. And being a data analyst, I decided to analyze some data.
Here’s what 15 years of Twitter look like in a few charts.
Getting the data isn’t hard. It just takes a little bit of patience. You can head over to your profile and request an archive of all your data from Twitter. After a waiting period (I had to wait about 24 hours), you’ll receive a big zip file with everything you ever tweeted. The archive includes a nice HTML renderer that allows you to browse your Twitter history locally.
The archive shows you the big numbers at a glance:
- 13.9K Tweets
- 5,634 Likes
Almost 14K Tweets in 15 years mean less than 1K Tweets per year and less than 3 Tweets per day on average. That sounds about right. But let’s take a look at calendar years.
In the chart, each bar represents the total amount of Tweets sent during each calendar year. I know we’re talking about 15 years, and there are 16 bars, but that’s because I didn’t have the foresight to start my Twitter account on January 1st.
I can see three “waves” of Twitter activity:
- In 2009, I tweeted a lot. That’s the year I moved to the US. I played a lot of Xbox 360 and had some services connected to my account that would tweet achievements and game sessions.
- In 2014 my old website, Hijos del Átomo, was in full swing. I was tweeting articles and engaging with our community a lot.
- In 2017 I joined Ubisoft as a Community Manager. Since it was my job to be on Twitter, I didn’t use my personal account much. But the Twitter volume still got a bump.
You can also note that I stopped tweeting during the pandemic years.
I included in the chart the number of Retweets I sent. I was surprised that I didn’t send a Retweet until 2009. And even then, I’ve never been much of a Retweeter.
I decided to aggregate the data into smaller bins and see if any exciting patterns would reveal themselves. This is what data analysis is all about, right?
Here’s a heatmap of Tweet volume by year and month.
Not many exciting patterns to see here, except perhaps that I tend to tweet more in the second half of a year. Except for March. Also, though it’s fair to say that I didn’t tweet much during the pandemic, it’s even more evident here that by 2019 I wasn’t tweeting much either.
Now, let’s look at volume by day of the week.
Now here’s something I suspected: I’m a work-day tweeter. Even in the busiest years, I send most Tweets between Monday and Thursday. Even Fridays are less active.
Finally, let’s look at volume by the hour of the day.
I am a morning person. And most of my Tweets are sent before noon! Though 3 PM was also a busy hour in 2014, that wasn’t the norm for the rest of the years.
Who needs 140 characters?
Twitter’s most salient characteristic was its limited format: you only had 140 characters to express yourself. How did I use that real estate?
Turns out, I’m a very succinct tweeter. In the chart above, each dot represents the length of a Tweet I sent. This doesn’t include Retweets.
The boxplots show the median length of my Tweets going up until 2016 when it reached about 100 characters.
In 2017, Twitter relaxed the 140 characters restriction, and I took advantage of the extra room for some longer Tweets. However, the median length went down!
By the way, do you remember why Twitter had that restriction in the beginning? If you do, let me know in the comments below! Don’t Google it until after you wrote your comment!
But what was I talking about?
This is all good and fine. I know when I tweeted and how long those Tweets were. But what were those Tweets about?
To answer this question, I looked at the word frequency of the text in all my Tweets, excluding Retweets. I selected the top 10 most common words from the entire period and added the most common word for each year. Here’s what that looks like.
Here are some observations.
- I used to share my blog posts a lot early on, and they always had “Borghal” in the description. That’s why the name and the word “blogged” appeared in those years.
- Between 2009 and 2011, I played a lot of Rock Band and other Xbox games. The “unlocked” came from me connecting my achievements to Twitter.
- My mom taught me well. The word gracias has appeared through the years.
- Both words “ver” and “see” appear through the years. This is because I usually prompt people to go “see” something I found online. It’s interesting to me because I wasn’t aware of this.
- I don’t talk about parenthood. The word “hijos” appears because of my old website, Hijos del Átomo. The hashtag #LoViEnHdA was what we used there to share our content.
- I used to tweet a lot about comics. The hashtag #comics and the word “comic” has featured prominently through the years. So do the terms “marvel” and “x-men.” Even the numbers 1 and 2 come from me tweeting about new comic issues.
- It’s always been about me. The term “I’m” appears every year.
- During the quiet years of the pandemic, the few things I tweeted were TV shows I was watching, sent automatically via Trakt.
- Apparently, I wink a lot? ;-)
Looking forward to the next 15 years
Will I still have a Twitter account 15 years from now? I’m running this website now, and I have added my own notes section as a personal Twitter replacement. But I will continue to syndicate my posts to Twitter, too.
There is a chance that, when I’m about to turn 60, if I’m still around, I may take a look at the previous 30 years of my Twitter activity! What will I find then?
Until then, why don’t you Retweet this?