Identifying Serial's global audience with Twitter


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Identifying Serial's global audience with Twitter

Late last year  the second season of the podcast Serial began. The very popular first season in 2014 had re-investigated an old case of murder in Baltimore. It gripped audiences with its reporting and was a thrilling listen every week.

When the new season began in December  they took a global turn  looking closely at the case of Bowe Bergdahl  the soldier held captive for five years and the circumstances which led up to his capture and later release. It was a geographic story shift from the US to the whole world. Curious about where people were listening and commenting  we decided to do a little investigation.

We fired up CartoDB’s twitter firehose  entering @serial as the search term to see where on earth the tweets were coming from in the first week.

The launch week’s tweets (12/10-12/17) were put into a map. The results were definitely global  with tweets coming from some remote corners of the planet  which was interesting and chances are the previous show may not have had
that reach.

Animating them over time with torque showed us the passage of tweets over the week. We aggregated the tweets at any single location:


That gave us a bubble that grew as tweets were generated about Serial. Now we could see where people were saying the most – places like New York  London and Chicago. But across the world there were smaller  unexpected places  too  in South America and Africa.

We handed this to our friends at Serial as a friendly data gesture  and they loved it. We woke up to the podcast announcement that they were switching to a bi-weekly format  and as we were listening  Sarah Koenig  the host of Serial mentioned the map we had given them (and posted it on their site).

During the in-between weeks we will have more posts and graphics on our website. In fact  we just put up this beautiful thing  this map of the world with all these twinkling dots that show where tweets have come from  responding to the show. So  you know  obvious places like the East Cost of the US – but then  Mongolia  Afghanistan   Chile  Nigeria  Papua New Guinea  Canada. It’s made me so happy to see it  like we’re all holding up lighters all over the globe.

So a little bit of twitter data made the show feel a sense of community  which is why we love the twitter access CartoDB offers  as well. It makes it easy to get a heartbeat from the planet on any topic you’d like.

Happy Twitter mapping!