In January of 2010, Twitter launched “Local Trends,” an application of their algorithm for “Trending Topic” which figures out what topics tweeters are discussing the most in particular locales, or as Twitter put it at the time, “(allowing) you to learn more about the nuances in our world and discover even more relevant topics that might matter to you.”
Yesterday, Twitter brought local trends to another 70 locations including South Africa.
Just as Twitter’s Trending Topics allows users to quickly view what is most popular the world over, with Local Trends, you get to see what is most immediately popular, versus that which has been popular for a long time. This explains why, with 2% of all tweets mentioning Justin Bieber, he does not appear on Trending Topics. In the first hours of South Africa’s Local Trends, they were largely dominated by the University Rugby Cup final between the University of Cape Town and the University of Pretoria along with the unfolding political situation in neighbouring Swaziland.
Twitter has previously explained that “locations are not manually selected, but rather displayed dynamically based on tweet volume.” and therefore at the moment, only Johannesburg, the largest of South Africa’s three main metropolitan centers, is listed. The reason for this may be that, as Twitter has said in the past, if a particular city or country does not have a Local Trends list, it is because they are not receiving enough Tweets from that area to create a list.
Up till now, data on Twitter’s penetration into Africa has varied from scant to questionable. However as Twitter said in their last addition to Local Trends in November 2010, additions featured some of their “fastest growing markets,” it perhaps wouldn’t be amiss to surmise that South Africa may be described in that way.
Furthermore, as reported by the tech and web blogger, White African, it can only be seen as a good thing that Twitter is coming to see Africa as a viable market. This in turn will only increase the presence of Africans on the service.
For Twitter to truly be a global-village, this is an imperative and Local Trends is definitely a step in the right direction.