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Is the flu a frequent topic on social in your state?

While the government shutdown was in full effect, many critical services that Americans may not have been thinking about fell through the cracks. Unfortunately, one of those services was the tracking and monitoring of various health and safety related trends, including this year’s flu virus. Social media data has advanced over the past few years in its application into a variety of use cases, including the ability to track pockets of discussion in geographically-specific areas on outbreaks of various illnesses. This past week, Visible took a sampling of Twitter and Facebook discussions over the past three months, totaling around 145,000 posts, to gather insight into trends that are occurring with regard to this year’s flu outbreak.

Using a new and incredibly powerful enhancement to the Visible Intelligence platform called Categories, we were able to see from a geographical standpoint which areas of the country were discussing the flu in highest frequency. Even more, we then built 50 individual categories, one for each state, to determine which were producing the most content around this year’s flu.

Categories are an intuitive, yet user-friendly segmentation tool provided within the Visible platform that give users ultimate flexibility in looking at their data in new and innovative ways. They work by first building a core search – in this case, on the flu, then building a separate search, which is overlaid against the core search to surface targeted data. Categories can be built in a wide variety of ways, including one set only on specific geographies, where users simply select a city, state or region from within the platform, and save it as a broad search. With regard to the analysis on flu-related discussions, Visible launched the core flu search, then overlaid 50 separate categories against that search, (again, one for each state) and produced some very interesting trends. The analysis began with the grouping of specific states into geographical regions, the East Coast, the Mid-West and the West Coast.

1a

 

Then we went a bit further to understand which states were driving the uptick in conversations happening within the East coast:

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Visible went one step further to rank each of the 50 states in order of flu-related discussions over the past 3 months. Without taking into account the percentage of the overall population that posted within each state, and just based on pure numbers, following is the ranking order of states from most to least number of flu-related posts. For the purposes of brevity, I’ll list just the top ten here:

1. California
2. Texas
3. New York
4. Florida
5.  Illinois
6. Ohio
7. Georgia
8. Pennsylvania
9. New Jersey
10. North Carolina

The above findings are not necessarily surprising, based on the sheer populations of the top states, so Visible recast the top 50 based upon the percentage of posts relative to each state’s population. Here’s the top ten list from highest to lowest:

1. Montana
2. Mississippi
3. Wyoming
4. Hawaii
5. South Dakota
6. Kentucky
7. North Dakota
8. New Hampshire
9. Maine
10. Alabama

So it looks like the flu is ramping up again. Go get those flu shots, wash your hands frequently, take your vitamin C and don’t forget to stock up on some chicken soup. Stay healthy!

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