Thankful Tuesday: It’s all about the people

Most Frequent Thankful Tuesday Terms
Most frequent terms in a collection of tweets with the hashtag #thankful.

Did you know that Tuesday, Nov. 24, was #ThankfulTuesday? This themed day was just two days before Thanksgiving and joined the ranks of newly invented opportunities such as #WorldPastaDay and #NationalMotherInLawDay to collectively post on social media about a single topic.

Appropriate to the season of giving thanks, many people took to Twitter to express what they are thankful for. We examined about 4,000 tweets with the hashtag #Thankful in search for an answer to the question: What are Twitter users thankful for on Thankful Tuesday?

Is it the material comforts enjoyed over the past year? Or perhaps the impending craziness of Black Friday shopping? Or the holiday of a massive dinner and televised football consumption?

Our analysis showed that the tweets were much more likely to be about intangible and sentimental things. Using SAS Contextual Analysis, we can see that the five most common words in the document collection, after our search term, “thankful”, were Thanksgiving, day, family, blessed and love.

From the next visualization, you can see that the search term “thankful” was most prominently associated with the terms “happy,” “week,” “good” and “God.”

Thankful Tuesday Terms Visualization
Terms most often mentioned in connection with the term "thankful."

The next screenshot from SAS Contextual Analysis illustrates the most prominent topic clusters. In about 10 percent of the tweets, people mentioned Thanksgiving, holiday, week, feast and God alongside the hashtag #thankful. The second most prominent topic cluster, present in about 9 percent of the tweets, was time (week) with family, friends and food.

Thankful Tuesday Topic Clusters
Most frequent topic clusters in a collection of tweets with the hashtag #thankful.

We can conclude that most Twitter users participating in Thankful Tuesday were looking forward to the Thanksgiving holiday traditions of spending time feasting and enjoying the company of family and friends. All of the topic clusters contained predominately positive sentiments, above 90 percent positive. From all of this data, we can generalize that Twitter users generally feel happy about these topics.

Using concept extraction in SAS Contextual Analysis, we can summarize that the top five things that people are thankful for are:

  1. Family.
  2. Friends.
  3. Students.
  4. People.
  5. Support.

The top 10 things people explicitly mentioned being thankful for also included partnerships, leadership and opportunities. Two interesting and related conclusions can be drawn. First, none of these items are material. Second, the results underscore the “social” or people part of “social media.”

About 40 percent of people used links to web pages as part of their tweets, and almost a third of those were links to Instagram. The Instagram photos included greeting-card-like stock images as well as personal photos.

Additionally, people used an average of two hashtags per tweet, and 40 percent of tweets were directed @someone, reinforcing the previous conclusion about the social aspect of social media.

We join the sentiment of these tweets in being thankful for our many wonderful SAS customers, partners and colleagues around the world. We are also thankful for such powerful analytics products as SAS Contextual Analysis, which make it possible for us to efficiently analyze big data and provide answers to questions big and small.

What are you thankful for this holiday season?


About Author

Dr. Biljana Belamaric Wilsey

Senior Program Manager

Biljana is a Senior Program Manager in the Text Analytics group at SAS. She holds two Master’s degrees, in English as a Second Language and Slavic Linguistics, as well as a Ph.D. in Instructional Technology. She enjoys research and writing and has had several articles published in peer-reviewed journals in the fields of computer-assisted language learning, linguistics, and higher education. Biljana considers herself a life-long learner, likes to challenge herself, and finds new experiences exciting. Outside of SAS, she enjoys traveling, playing music, teaching/learning languages, and spending time with family and friends.


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