Bloomington-Normal Twitter Trends: 2020 and COVID19

by Jatzari Abonce, SMACC Analyst

The year of 2020, has brought more changes than we could have imagined. From the beginning of the year with Kobe Bryant’s death, to COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, to mass protests, Twitter has been one of the top platforms where individuals have relied on to speak on such events and create discussions with others.    

As we take on 2021, we reflect and share the top keywords that took over Twitter in 2020.  

We focused on a specific demographic, Bloomington-Normal, Illinois as our basis for analysis. During 2020, we collected tweets publicly posted from within a 20-mile radius around the campus of Illinois State University. 

The COVID-19 outbreak is still affecting countries worldwide, and for these searches, we focused on keywords, most used hashtags, and most active accounts, along with other analytic insights on Twitter, that help us understand the experiences and opinions about this ongoing pandemic from the people of Bloomington Normal.  


Our first insight relates to the spread. Spread relates to the audience in which these keywords were able to reach through original tweets and how the act of retweeting of those original tweets were able to spread to an even larger audience.  

In the past year (2020), Bloomington-Normal tweets have reached a maximum potential audience of around 1.6 million Twitter accounts on the topic of the COVID-19 pandemic. When these pandemic-related tweets are shared or retweeted, residents of Bloomington Normal have reached a maximum potential of an additional 8.3 million Twitter users.  


COVID-19 Reach and Spread
Reach and spread of Bloomington-Normal tweets about COVID-19 topics.


Next, we have the bigrams count. Bigrams are a series of keywords used together frequently.  

When we looked at pandemic-related tweets from Bloomington-Normal in 2020 year, the top 10 keywords that were found to be used concurrently are as follows:  

  • Covid & 19  
  • McClean & County  
  • 19 & pandemic
  • Tested & positive  
  • Coronavirus & pandemic  
  • Global & pandemic  
  • Public & health  
  • Corona & virus  
  • Positivity & rate  

As we take a look at the list, we can understand the relationship between the pairing of these specific words and their frequency in usage in Tweets. The global pandemic, COVID-19, struck the world unexpectedly around March of 2020. So as we analyze the list, we can see that the pairs of (covid 19, 19 pandemic, coronavirus pandemic, global pandemic, and coronavirus) were and still are a trending topic on Twitter as we are currently still experiencing the pandemic. Following, we can see McClean County, which can reflect residents of the area Tweeting about the effects of the pandemic in McClean County, as well as their interest with COVID-19 testing and the results of those positive COVID tests with the keywords of positive rate and public health.  



Within Tweets, people will use #hashtags to identify content on a specific topic.  

These #hashtags consisted of a variety of ways that people searched COVID-19 related Tweets such as the top hashtags of #covid19 and #coronavirus. Two interesting and highly related to our demographic are the hashtags, #Blono and #ilstu that made it to the top 10. #Blono was used by  621 Tweets, which relates again, to residents who were searching for any COVID related content in the area of Bloomington Normal. The #ilstu, lets us get an insight on how students and faculty might have been searching for any Tweets relating to the pandemic, the effects of the statewide restrictions and its correlation to Illinois State University and the University’s actions on how the school year would be during this pandemic.  


Top COVID-19 Hashtags
Top COVID-19-related hashtags from Bloomington Normal.

Most Active Accounts 

We also looked into the most active accounts. These are accounts that have produced top content within the past year. Focusing on the top 10 most active accounts there are two unique patterns that we can analyze. The first top 5 accounts are accounts from local news stations like: wmbdnews, wgltnews, 25newsweek, and wjbc. The second half of the list are accounts that are related to the university, such as @illinoisstateu and @thevidette, as well as faculty & staff members.

With this information we can infer that these news stations were in charge of providing content and information about the pandemic through their Twitter accounts as one of their social media outlets. The second half such as those accounts related to the university could also have the same role, of informing the ISU students, faculty, staff, and alumni about COVID related measures that affect those prospective parties.  

Most Mentioned Accounts 

Finally, we have the most mentioned accounts.  These accounts are found throughout multiple tweets. These insights help us understand who other people are trying to reach with their tweets based on these specific accounts.  

As we analyze the most mentioned accounts, Donald Trump is at the top of the list. As president at the time, Donald Trump has been known for using Twitter as a main medium of communicating with the public. So it is no surprise that Trump’s account was mentioned the most. This probably has to do with how Trump handled the pandemic, the regulations and conversations about vaccines.  

Following Trump’s account, was @illinoisstateu. This is the University’s official Twitter account. These mentions of this account might be due to the fact that people in the area are trying to reach out to ISU through Twitter regarding any COVID-19 news and updates related to the university. 

 This analysis is a snapshot of the coronavirus topic in Bloomington-Normal. However, many other trends also emerged during 2020. If you have any ideas on other trending topics of or keywords, leave a comment on what you would like to see, and stay tuned for our next segment of Bloomington-Normal Twitter Trends of 2020. 

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