Twitter’s Geographic Boundaries

The exciting aspect of social media is it opens the door for participants to make connections outside their geographic reach and focus on common interests (being a mom, running, cooking, etc.). However, a recent article “Geography of Twitter” by Barry Wellman, Yuri Tahkteyev and Anatoliy Gruzd published in Social Networks (Jan. 2012) proves there are more geographic boundaries than we initially thought with Twitter. In fact, the article proves through Twitter research that social media connections look more like an airline hub map.

Wellman, Tahkteyev and Gruzd analyzed half a million tweets to determine where people are tweeting from and who is following them. They discovered a lot of people have local Twitter ties mostly because people are interested in their local communities.  Furthermore, Twitter connections are very much the same as the connections we have in the “real” world.

Airline connections already prove there is commonality between two cities, for example: trade connections, professional connections, entertainment connections, etc. And people on Twitter are more likely to follow others who are just a plane ride away from them because of those commonalities.

“Los Angeles is more likely to be connected to Toronto than St. Louis. And my apologies to St. Louis, but Torontonians rarely go to there. Tweets – to use the Twitter term – are more likely to be connected to each other between those localities than not,” said Wellman in a recent interview with NPR Morning Edition.

If we apply Wellman’s, Tahkteyev and Gruzd thought process – that “real” world and “social” world connections are the same – to marketing, it is highly likely the same consumers brands are connecting with through traditional advertising and marketing campaigns, are the same people brands are connecting with on social media.

Jennifer Manocchio


After starting her career with Edelman in Chicago, Jennifer joined Sweeney and quickly established herself as an exceptional industry innovator. In 2004, she opened Sweeney’s first full-service office outside of Cleveland and quickly rose through the ranks to become agency president. Jen leads by example and without fear. She has been critical to agency growth throughout the past decade and continues to lead the agency into the future.