State of the Edmonton Twittersphere 2011 – Hashtags & Links

This is the third part in my State of the Edmonton Twittersphere for 2011 – you can read the overview post here. As we saw in that entry, local users posted more than 2.5 million tweets containing links. They also posted more than 3 million tweets containing hashtags. Let’s take a closer look at what exactly we tweeted about in 2011.

Here’s a breakdown of the number of tweets posted per month containing links. As expected, it trends up:

More interesting than the number of links is what those links are for! Of course, most links are hidden behind shortened URLs using a service like TinyURL. That makes it difficult to see the final destination of the link. Additionally, Twitter rolled out its own URL shortener in August which automatically wrapped all links with So to get a sense of what the links look like, I examined the data from January through August and excluded any wrapped links. That gives us this:

As you can see, is by far the most popular URL shortening service. Looking at the top ten, we can see that Tumblr, Facebook, Foursquare, and YouTube account for a large number of the links we post on Twitter every day. So, we use Twitter to link to other social networking sites!

Here are the top ten domains (excluding


Other popular domains included,, and

Perhaps more useful than links for determining what we tweeted about are hashtags. After all, the hashtag was created as a way to “categorize” tweets. In 2011, local users posted more than 3 million tweets containing hashtags. The most commonly used hashtag, by a longshot, was #yeg. Here is a word cloud of the most commonly used hashtags:

Local users used nearly 600,000 different hashtags in 2011. The shortest was just one character, excluding the hash, and the longest was 139 characters. The average hashtag was 14 characters long. There were seven hashtags that filled the full 140 characters of a tweet (when you include the #) and all but one of them had to do with using a long hashtag (the outlier was an extended hey!).

This should give you a sense of the diversity of hashtags used, and also of the prevalence of #yeg:

Removing #yeg from the word cloud allows us to get a better sense of the other top tags:

Here are the top ten hashtags excluding #yeg:

  1. #oilers
  2. #ff
  3. #yegfood
  4. #edmonton
  5. #ableg
  6. #yyc
  7. #cdnpoli
  8. #alberta
  9. #customer
  10. #canada

The only one that surprises me there is #customer. I have no idea why that hashtag was so popular! Given that it hasn’t been used recently, I suspect a bot may have helped boost its use at some point throughout the year.

I have always been fascinated by the number of local “subtags” as I call them, or hashtags that start with #yeg. In 2011, local users posted more than 3600 different hashtags that started with #yeg. The average length, excluding the hash, was 11 characters. The longest was 52 characters. Appropriately, it was about the weather – #yegohmygoodnesscantbelievewinterisherehowwillimanage.

Here’s a look at the top #yeg-related hashtags:

Here are the top ten #yeg-related hashtags:

  1. #yegfood
  2. #yegarena
  3. #yegweather
  4. #yegwx
  5. #yegtraffic
  6. #yegcc
  7. #yegarts
  8. #yegmusic
  9. #yegfed
  10. #yegtransit

So what did we talk about on Twitter in 2011? The same stuff we talk about everywhere else – food, politics, music, traffic, etc. The list above is pretty similar to the list from 2010, with #yegfood on top and a number of political tags like #yegcc, #yegarena, and #yegfed.

Here’s another way to visualize how popular those ten hashtags were, when compared with all other #yeg-related tags:

And here’s a look at the next most commonly used tags after excluding the top ten:

I imagine #yegdt, #yegmedia, and #yegbiz will all climb the charts in 2012!

2011 in Review

This year I have broken the report into sections:

  1. Overview
  2. Users & Clients
  3. Hashtags & Links

This entry brings the report to a close. I hope you found it useful. Thanks for reading!

State of the Edmonton Twittersphere 2011 – Users & Clients

This is the second part in my State of the Edmonton Twittersphere for 2011 – you can read the overview post here. As we saw in that entry, more than 46,000 local users posted at least one tweet in 2011, and more than 23,000 were active in December. Let’s take a closer look at users and the tools they used to post tweets.

In my experience the creation date for a user is not always populated, but assuming it is incorrect or missing equally across the year, this chart gives us an indication of when local users signed up for accounts in 2011:

As you can see only March seems to stand out – the number of users created is otherwise fairly evenly distributed across the year.

On to the lists!

Here are the 25 most followed users:

  1. hallsy04
  2. bioware
  3. NHL_Oilers
  4. revtrev
  5. Pat_Lorna
  6. ebs_14
  7. masseffect
  8. dragonage
  9. randyfritz
  10. MilesSTEREOS
  11. askandimagine
  12. darklarke
  13. jayrahime
  14. DavidPapp
  15. AskMartyMisner
  16. DancinginLife
  17. mps_91
  18. TheMaddigans
  19. CityofEdmonton
  20. subunit1
  21. edmontonjournal
  22. redneckmommy
  23. ctvedmonton
  24. GenePrincipe
  25. ThisBirdsDay

The average local user has 138 followers (compared to 120 last year). A total of 918 users have 1000 followers or more (compared to 420 users last year).

Here are the 25 most listed users:

  1. bioware
  2. revtrev
  3. NHL_Oilers
  4. masseffect
  5. dragonage
  6. hallsy04
  7. redneckmommy
  8. rootnl2k
  9. randyfritz
  10. paradepro
  11. Pat_Lorna
  12. gcouros
  13. edmontonjournal
  14. gsiemens
  15. DancinginLife
  16. ebs_14
  17. da_buzz
  18. ctvedmonton
  19. CityofEdmonton
  20. dantencer
  21. CBCEdmonton
  22. mastermaq
  23. britl
  24. askandimagine
  25. GlobalEdmonton

The average local user has been listed 4 times (compared to 5 times last year).

Here are the 25 most active users:

  1. rootnl2k
  2. etownmelly
  3. theleanover
  4. JoThrillzPromo
  5. auryanna
  6. CommonSenseSoc
  7. KikkiPlanet
  8. RyanPMG
  9. Leask
  10. BikiniOrBust
  11. LiarAllDay
  12. ZoomJer
  13. fraygulrock
  14. counterplot
  15. JovanHeer
  16. PoisonLolita (now @Shannanicorn)
  17. SaySandra
  18. Jenn_Etown
  19. sarahbartlett (now @sarahesinfield)
  20. DV1NE
  21. gcouros
  22. AskMartyMisner
  23. andrew_leach
  24. TrevorBoller
  25. habanerogal

Here are the 5 most active bots:

  1. WCIJobs
  2. EdmontonBizcaf
  3. MadMissee
  4. yegtraffic
  5. LocalEdmonton

Combined those were the top 30 most active users, and they accounted for 8.3% of all local tweets. The top 100 most active users accounted for 16.0% of all local tweets (compared to 18.5% last year).

Here are the 25 most active users using #yeg (and #yeg-related hashtags):

  1. iNews880
  2. ctvedmonton
  3. edmontonjournal
  4. CBCEdmonton
  5. TamaraStecyk
  6. MacsTheWord
  7. Edmontonsun
  8. Paulatics
  9. DebraWard
  10. JBH8
  11. k97
  12. mastermaq
  13. Sirthinks
  14. SimonOstler
  15. KikkiPlanet
  16. CommonSenseSoc
  17. metroedmonton
  18. britl
  19. lindork
  20. thepolishviking
  21. Slummer90
  22. Macgyyver
  23. CityofEdmonton
  24. GigcityYEG
  25. craigpilgrim

Here are 5 most active bots using #yeg:

  1. yegsphere
  2. EdmCa
  3. yegwx
  4. yegtraffic
  5. Oilogosphere

The top 100 most active users using #yeg and related tags accounted for 30.3% of all #yeg-tagged tweets, down from 51.8% last year. That suggests that more users are using #yeg! A total of 14,238 users posted at least one tweet tagged with #yeg or a related tag in 2011.

Here are the 25 most replied to users (by other local users):

  1. KikkiPlanet
  2. JasonGregor
  3. confessionality
  4. ZoomJer
  5. JenBanksYEG
  6. Wildsau
  7. britl
  8. Pokerclack
  9. CommonSenseSoc
  10. dantencer
  11. SaySandra
  12. RockstarJodie
  13. TamaraStecyk
  14. Rainyfool
  15. Leask
  16. NoPantsAsh
  17. lindork
  18. Luzzara
  19. NHL_Oilers
  20. FeliciaDewar
  21. habanerogal
  22. TrevorBoller
  23. nielson1260
  24. Sirthinks
  25. MeghanDarker

Those 25 users accounted for 11.2% of all local replies. The top 100 most replied to local users accounted for 24.5% of all local replies (compared to 32.8% last year).

Here are the 25 most retweeted users (by other local users):

  1. edmontonjournal
  2. NHL_Oilers
  3. ctvedmonton
  4. dantencer
  5. CityofEdmonton
  6. mastermaq
  7. metroedmonton
  8. cbcedmonton
  9. Paulatics
  10. GlobalEdmonton
  11. SimonOstler
  12. yegtraffic
  13. JasonGregor
  14. britl
  15. KikkiPlanet
  16. edmontonsun
  17. sunterryjones
  18. EdmontonHumane
  19. GenePrincipe
  20. hallsy04
  21. iNews880
  22. joshclassen
  23. bingofuel
  24. Wildsau
  25. davecournoyer

If you ever needed proof that Edmonton is a hockey town, look no further than that list! A total of 38 users were retweeted by other local users 1000 times or more. Just the top 6 users were retweeted more than 4000 times, and just @edmontonjournal was retweeted more than 10,000 times.

I like to say that the “most retweeted” is the most important of all the lists in this post, because the retweet is the social currency of Twitter. If someone retweets you, that means that whatever you posted was important/clever/funny/inspiring/etc enough to share with others.


More than 3100 different applications and services were used to post tweets in 2011, up from more than 2000 last year. Here are the top ten:

  1. web
  2. Twitter for iPhone
  3. Twitter for BlackBerry®
  4. TweetDeck
  5. HootSuite
  6. Echofon
  7. twitterfeed
  8. Twitter for Android
  9. txt
  10. Tweet Button

The top ten clients accounted for 76.8% of all local tweets in 2011 (compared to 76.2% last year).

Coming Up

This year I have broken the report into sections:

  1. Overview
  2. Users & Clients
  3. Hashtags & Links

If you have suggestions for additional parts to the report, I’d love to hear them. Thanks for reading!

State of the Edmonton Twittersphere 2011 – Overview

Welcome to the State of the Edmonton Twittersphere for 2011, my look at the intersection of Twitter and Edmonton in 2011. You can see my 2010 recap here, and my 2009 recap here.

I’ve done my best to ensure all of the data in this report is accurate, but I make no guarantees – use it at your own risk. The data comes from the Twitter API, and was collected over the course of 2011. If a user has his or her location set to Edmonton, St. Albert, Sherwood Park, Leduc, Nisku, Stony Plain, Fort Saskatchewan, Beaumont, Spruce Grove, or matching lat/long coordinates, they are considered an Edmontonian, and thus a “local user”.

Please treat the numbers in this report as a minimum. There are instances where I wasn’t able to capture all of the data, and there are certainly users here in Edmonton who do not match the above definition of a “local user”. More important than the raw numbers themselves are the trends, and that’s why in many cases I have presented rounded rather than exact figures. You can click on any graph to see a larger version.

Here are the highlights for 2011:

  • More than 46,000 local users posted at least one tweet.
    • A little over 1000 of those accounts no longer exist.
  • More than 11.2 million tweets were posted by local users, which works out to 21.4 tweets per minute.
    • That’s 2.3 times as many tweets as were posted in 2010.
  • Here’s a breakdown of those tweets:
    • More than 715,000 tweets were tagged #yeg or a related hashtag (like #yegfood) (6.4%, down from 7.7% last year)
    • Nearly 700,000 tweets were retweets (6.2%, down from 7.2% last year)
    • More than 4.4 million tweets were replies (39.4%, up from 34.7% last year)
    • More than 1.7 million tweets were replies to other local users (15.2%, up from 13.5% last year)
    • More than 2.5 million tweets contained links (22.9%, down from 26.9% last year)
    • More than 320,000 tweets were twooshes (a twoosh is exactly 140 characters) (2.9%, down from 3.9% last year)

While more than 46,000 local users posted a tweet last year, just under 24,000 were active at the end of the year in December (active means they posted at least one tweet). That’s 1.9 times as many active users as January. That’s slightly better growth than we saw in 2010, when December had 1.8 times as many active users as January.

When the year started, Edmontonians were posting a little over 600,000 tweets per month. By the end of the year, that number had nearly doubled to 1.1 million tweets per month. That’s less than the growth that Twitter as a whole experienced last year (3 times as many tweets were posted as compared to the same point in 2010) but is more or less what we saw in Edmonton in 2010 (as compared to 2009).

Roughly 49.1% of all tweets in 2011 were posted between the hours of 9 AM and 6 PM, down slightly from 50.8% in 2010. Once again the lowest point for tweet volume was around 4 AM. Last year there were clear early morning and late night spikes, but this year only the late night spike is present (8 PM to 11 PM).

There’s a much nicer looking curve for days of the week this year, with the most tweets being posted during the middle of the week. Sunday typically had the lowest volume of tweets posted.

Here’s a look at the number of tweets posted per day for each day of the year. As with last year’s chart, the trend is clearly up, and there are some visible spikes and troughs. The dip on April 9 appears to be an anomaly in the data, perhaps there were issues with the Twitter API that day (unless you have another idea!). The peak on June 15 was not immediately obvious but it turned out after looking at a Wordle of the tweets that the spike was due to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals. With nearly 45,000 tweets posted that day, it remained the record until October 25 when discussion about the downtown arena became the talk of Twitter here in Edmonton. More than 46,000 tweets were posted that day, with almost as many being posted on the next two days as well. The spike on November 17 appears to be related to the snow and cold weather that arrived that week.

Coming Up

In order to make it easier for me to write this report, I have decided to break it into sections. This entry provided an overview, and upcoming entries will focus on different aspects of Twitter usage in Edmonton:

  1. Overview
  2. Users & Clients
  3. Hashtags & Links

If you have suggestions for additional parts to the report, I’d love to hear them. Thanks for reading!

Edmonton’s population is up 12.1% according to the 2011 Federal Census

Statistics Canada today released the first set of information for the 2011 Federal Census, focused on population and dwelling counts. The population of Canada has increased 5.9% since the 2006 census, compared with 5.4% for the previous five-year period.

Canada’s population increased at a faster rate than the population of any other member of the G8 group of industrialized nations between 2006 and 2011. This was also the case between 2001 and 2006.

Canada’s population now sits at 33,476,688. Looking at the provinces, Alberta leads the country in growth with an increase of 10.8%, taking our population up to 3,645,257, which is about 11% of the country.

Increasingly we are an urban country. A total of 69.1% of the population lives in one of Canada’s 33 census metropolitan areas (CMAs), and that number is going up:

The rate of growth between 2006 and 2011 was 7.4% in CMAs as a group, above the national average of 5.9%. The two fastest growing CMAs were both in Alberta: Calgary, where the population rose 12.6%, and Edmonton, where it increased 12.1%.

Here’s a look at the fastest growing CMAs in the country:

Looking at federal electoral districts in the Edmonton region, Edmonton-Leduc was the fastest growing with 28% growth since 2006 census, followed by Edmonton-Mill Woods-Beaumont at 22%.

Looking at Edmonton more generally, the population of the city now sits at 812,201 while the population of the CMA is now 1,159,869. Here’s the population for the City and the CMA over the last fifteen years:

And here’s the percentage increase over that same time period:

Edmonton is now the sixth largest CMA in the country, and we’re growing more quickly than anticipated.

We’ll have to wait until May 29 to learn more about the age and gender breakdown, September 19 to learn more about households, marital status, and structure types, and October 24 to learn more about language.

The City of Edmonton is conducting another municipal census in April this year, and is looking for 1400 people to act as census workers. You can apply in person at City Hall. You can learn more about the municipal census here.

You can learn more about the 2011 Federal Census here, and also check out The Daily for today.

Top 10 Posts for 2011

As I have done for the last couple of years, I thought I’d post a list of the ten most viewed posts of the year on my blog. You can see the 2010 list here, and the 2009 list here.

Here are the top ten individual posts from 2011 by views:

  1. Daily Deals in Edmonton
  2. What the Truck?! Edmonton’s Food Truck Extravaganza
  3. Edmonton’s Homicide Rate: How much has changed in 30 years?
  4. Homicide Rates in Canada: Statistics & Trends
  5. Your Guide to Summer Festivals & Events in Edmonton!
  6. More than just email: Google Apps goes live at the University of Alberta
  7. Avenue Edmonton’s Top 40 Under 40 for 2011
  8. Edmonton Transit (ETS) now offers schedule information via SMS text messaging
  9. Timeraiser Edmonton 3 and WestJet Giveaway!
  10. The City of Edmonton is failing at public involvement

Thanks for reading and commenting over the last year!

Taking the City of Edmonton to another level with City Manager Simon Farbrother

Last week, on the one year anniversary of his first official day as the City of Edmonton’s new City Manager, Simon Farbrother sat down with me to reflect on the past twelve months. In addition to settling into the role and continually learning about the organization, Simon is leading the City through a major cultural shift that is fundamentally changing the way it does business.

Simon Farbrother
Coffee with Simon

Simon came to the City of Edmonton from Waterloo, where he was that city’s Chief Administrative Officer. He’s not new to the capital region however, having worked at the City of Leduc from 1988 until 1997, and at the City of Spruce Grove from 1997 until 2005. I wondered if he had thought about working in “the big city” but he said that was never the game plan, though he did admit the thought crossed his mind once or twice. “I think it’s important to stretch yourself, “ Simon told me, “when opportunities come up you grab them and away you go.” That’s how he ended up in Waterloo, and in January 2010, how he found himself here in Edmonton taking over for retiring City Manager Al Maurer.

Simon said his first year has gone by really quickly, but described it as “challenging, fun, and stimulating.” Noting the number of projects the City has on the go, Simon said “Edmonton is at a very interesting point in time.” He lives in the southwest and uses the LRT quite a bit and depending on his schedule. “The south LRT has changed the way people think about transit in our city.” Though he felt Edmonton had matured politically while he was out east, Simon said that he has “always thought Edmonton’s strength was its people, and I still do.” He thinks it’s because we have a unique sense of connection here. “We’re the big city on the prairie, we’re multicultural; the people who choose to live here are really carving out their lives.”

For the first few weeks of last year, Simon spent his time getting to know people at the City while Al continued on as Manager (though Simon actually knew quite a few people already from his previous positions). On January 18th 2010, he took over and hit the ground running. “You have to get up-to-speed quickly and bring your skills to the table.” Simon told me the ladies in the Manager’s office were “tremendously helpful” and made the transition a smooth one. “When you join, naturally there’s a lot of questions about you,” he said, recalling that it wasn’t just him that had to adjust to the new role. “Fundamentally I am about building – I always have a strong belief in a person’s abilities and general willingness to do the right thing.”

Simon Farbrother
Conversation with Simon & Extended Leadership Team

One of the first things Simon did was have an open conversation with the general managers. “Leadership is about framing,” he said. Simon made it clear that the City would be moving in a new direction, and told them, “your primary role is to lead the City, not your department.” He called it a “fundamental shift” and said there has been a lot of positive engagement from the general managers on the new approach. Discussions since have focused on how the City leads, rather than on each individual project that comes up. “We also opened the door to branch managers and directors around leadership,” Simon confirmed. The City of Edmonton currently has 6 general managers and 35 branch managers, but the number is not important. “It’s about what makes sense at the time to lead.” To reinforce the shift, the Senior Management Team (SMT) was renamed to the Corporate Leadership Team (CLT). Demonstrating leadership is more important than having worked at the organization for most of your career. “We’re trying to engage people to be leaders, everyone can do that.”

Simon’s focus for 2011 is this internal cultural conversation. He shared that the City has formed a group called Transforming Edmonton and Me (TEAM) that has been challenged to explore the question, “what do we want our culture to be?” An early activity involved the creation of a word cloud, and ‘communication’ emerged as the biggest word. There’s a desire to be more transparent, and to have meaningful conversations (no more going to the meeting then having the real conversation in the hallway). “It’s about how we agree to work as an organization,” Simon said. “If you don’t see me acting in the way I say I am going to act, you have every right to tell me.”

Most of Simon’s communication has been focused internally so far (he’s going to look into updating his pagearchived here – on the public website). “Having various ways to communicate is really valuable.” To that end, Simon has published videos every few weeks for employees, focusing not on what the City got approved but on leadership within the organization. “For example, a video might talk about our approach to the budget, rather than giving details on what was approved.” The effort has given him the opportunity to meet people across the organization. “I’ve learned to cut trees, drive a bus, I’ve been in the sewers, it has been great.” He hopes the videos reinforce the notion that all employees at the City are important. He is thinking about an internal blog too, and said the intranet is a really important tool for giving context.

Simon Farbrother
Simon getting some hands-on experience felling trees in Delwood Park

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Simon was a BlackBerry user while in Waterloo. Now he’s got an iPhone and an iPad, but doesn’t consider himself to be an early adopter. “I really like the iPad in a meeting environment,” he said, because there’s less paper to carry and the device is great for graphics. “I do lots of email and text messaging,” he told me, and while he is familiar with Twitter, he has no plans to use the service. “A lot of my emails would look like tweets though!” Simon’s day consists largely of meetings, so it’s important to communicate efficiently. He uses text messaging to stay in touch with his family throughout the day.

Turning to external communication, Simon said the City “should talk about what we’re doing and what we’re trying to achieve.” It’s the philosophy that is important, not the list of projects. “We’re part of a bigger picture, we work for the full community.” Simon thinks it is important for employees to be mindful of that broader perspective too. “You can’t disconnect being a transit driver or an accountant or even a manager from being an ambassador and a representative of the City.” In other words, employees need to be accountable not just to their boss, but to all Edmontonians.

The word accountability was mentioned alongside transparency in his introductory letter last year. When I asked for his assessment of the City’s performance on those issues, Simon replied: “I think we’re getting better.” Being accountable and transparent to the public is a challenge given the size of the organization. “We’re in the A to Z business,” Simon remarked, “and we’re the only the organization that does all of our business in the public eye.” I suggested that the City could do more on the transparency side, especially as it relates to making information available and accessible. “I don’t think we consciously hoard,” he told me. “There are legitimate reasons for some information to be confidential.” He agreed that getting information into people’s hands is important though.

Simon Farbrother
Simon with Councillor Amarjeet Sohi

I asked Simon how he has found working with Mayor Mandel and the rest of City Council over the last year. Due to the nature of the position in large cities, Simon has worked more closely with Mayor Mandel, and described him as “very committed and very driven.” He said they get along well. Though he hasn’t had as many opportunities to work with the Councillors, he said “they’re all trying to build a better City, which is a positive environment to work in.”

Looking ahead to 2011, I asked if Simon had made any personal new years resolutions – he didn’t. “For me it’s about lifelong learning,” he said. “In whatever you do, you need to be relevant and adding value.” He’s excited for the year ahead, and talked about some of the big projects that have made headlines recently. “EXPO wasn’t just a three month event, it was positioning Edmonton as an important city in North America.” Similarly he thinks we need to look at the bigger picture when it comes to topics like the downtown arena or the city centre redevelopment. “We need to be strategic and aligned as a city.”

Simon said the City of Edmonton has always had aspirations, but has never embedded that into the culture. “Being aspirational has to be a fundamental part of what we do.” When it was discovered that some material was being created internally that talked about Edmonton being successful as a “tier 2 city”, Simon and his team put a stop to it. “What would a tier 1 city do? There’s nothing stopping us from being tier 1.” It’s about having vision and not being afraid to go after it. “We shouldn’t be shy about opportunities.” For Simon, it’s about taking Edmonton to another level. “We need to up our game and galvanize around being a city.”

“It’s going to be a good year.”