Which cities are most talked about in social media?

Lance Concannon Lance Concannon, Marketing Director, Europe

Most agencies use social listening tools primarily to provide services for their clients, but they can also be used to create new conversations in the industry. ING is a London based PR and communications agency that works for organisations across the built environment, with a client portfolio that includes architects, property developers, and the cities of Leipzig and Helsinki.

To help raise its profile among this audience, the agency carried out a research programme to understand how Europe’s leading cities get talked about on social channels, and how that digital visibility shapes the identities of those places.

Existing city indices focus on factors such as technology, sustainability, economic power, or quality of life, whereas the purpose of this research was to discover which cities enjoy the largest social share of voice.

This new focus enabled ING to show how the social conversations of cities don’t necessarily match the way they are represented and other potential ‘brand gaps’. It also showed that some cities punch above their weight in social media discussions compared to their position in more conventional city ranking indices. For example, digital conversations around culture and livability were a big reason behind Rome appearing much higher in ING’s digital visibility ranking than its average position in a combination of other city rankings.

To understand where European cities ranked for digital visibility, ING used Meltwater Social Search to identify conversations about the top 40 European cities to create an initial ranking, and then grouped those mentions into five categories: culture, technology, business, livability, and talent. To ensure the research provided an accurate representation of a city’s brand, search queries were fine-tuned to hone in on relevant mentions while filtering out noise. As well as working with a lot of different languages, and the varying popularity of social channels in different countries, discussions of local football teams presented a particular challenge and were therefore limited as a metric.

The data was then exported into Excel for more detailed analysis, before being passed to a designer to create a set of data visualizations for use in both print and digital assets.

As well as producing a piece of unique primary research to help the agency raise its profile among its target audiences, the project also helped ING demonstrate its ability to deliver more sophisticated analysis of social data beyond basic campaign measurement and brand audits. The findings were covered in largest newspaper in London, which came top in the rankings, as well as in the property industry press.

Having successfully completed this first wave of research, the agency is now hoping to extend it to global cities beyond Europe, including a more in-depth comparison of US and UK cities.