Alexandra Pope, staff writer
July 28, 2011 — Social media technologies are providing Canadians with a new way to engage in their favorite pastime: complaining about the weather.
If it seems like all Canadians can talk about lately is the heat ... that's because it is.
As temperatures began warming up across parts of Canada last month, social media monitoring company Meltwater tuned in to the conversations taking place on Twitter, Facebook, blogs and chat forums.
Using a program called Meltwater Buzz, Meltwater tracked the number of times the heat was mentioned in social media conversations over a period of 30 days.
Their findings were unsurprising: more than 120,000 heat-related conversations took place.
Even less surprising was the breakdown of sentiment in those conversations. Meltwater found Canadians were four times more likely to complain about the heat than embrace it.
“The results ... provided some evidence for something we all know to be true -- Canadians love to complain about the weather,” said Niklas de Besche, executive director of Meltwater Buzz.
The weather has always been a hot topic of conversation in Canada, de Besche said, but social media has made it easier for Canadians to share their opinions.
“I don't know if (social media) is changing the way we talk about the weather, but it certainly provides us more opportunity to broadcast our views to others in a way that simply wasn't possible before,” he said.
Meltwater also found that of all the social media platforms they monitored, Twitter was the most popular, accounting for 60 per cent of all heat-related conversations.
De Besche cited the simplicity of Twitter as a possible reason for its popularity as a forum for weather chatter.
“We all like to give our two cents about the weather,” he said. “Perhaps Twitter offers just enough characters for us to get our point across.”
The heat was Meltwater's first foray into Canada's collective weather conversation, but de Besche said the company would be open to exploring more weather-related topics in the future.
Increasingly, governments are turning to social media to disseminate urgent information.
“Clearly, the way Canadians consume information is changing and one of those ways is the increasing use of social media,” de Besche said. “More and more, Meltwater is seeing an increase in this sort of social chatter and we know through our tracking that decision makers are paying attention to these channels.”