Choice of platform
Initially we decided to use Instagram as our choice of platform for the data scraping and visualization part of our research and use scraper Instagram Hashtag Explorer to analyze this platform. However, a problem had surfaced which was not being able to use Instagram Hashtag Explorer since Instagram has recently changed its platform regulations. This tool had stopped working on the 1st of June, and we only managed to gather only one graph. Therefore we will also be using Twitter as a choice of platform. Instagram and Twitter are in the top 10 of Global Social Media Ranking in 2016 and are the most common platforms to post pictures with hashtags. By utilizing these two platforms, we will be able to determine the most frequently used hashtags, the relevancy to our research question as well as additional themes related to our topic.
We have selected seven Instagram/Twitter hashtags that will help us gain more information about our research question. These seven hashtags have been selected because they are used most often by Instagram users as well as being spoken about on Twitter. There were more hashtags used at first since we are using two platforms. Nonetheless we have decided to narrow them down to the seven most recurrent hashtags on Instagram and Twitter because we believe that enough data can be obtained from these hashtags. The seven hashtags that we will be exploring and examining are: #uber (726,290 posts), #rideshare (51,433 posts), #ubereverywhere (30,860 posts), #ubereats (21,872 posts), #uberdrivers (2,436 posts), #taxistrike (741 posts) and #uberwars (24 posts). The uberwars has very little hits on Instagram but is widely spoken about on Twitter since the controversial situation of uber cannot be shown in a picture but rather in texts. This is why we have chosen to work with two social platforms; Instagram, which revolves around pictures with hashtags while Twitter, is about postings texts including hashtags.
Out of the eight hashtags, #uber is the most vital. This tag was used 726,290 times and has by far dominated the others. This hashtag has been used so regularly because it is the name of the company. Any pictures or texts that are associated with the company involve an uber hashtag. This shows that many individuals around the world are repeatedly using Uber.
The second most significant tag is #rideshare which had 51,433 posts. This is a concept created by Uber and the purpose is to give out “countless dollars of free ride credit to new users in an attempt to acquire more loyal users of the platform” (rideshareapps.com, 2016). Also, Uber has worked with famous actors, artists and youtubers such as Snoop Dogg, Neil Patrick Harris and Joe Sugg by giving them promo codes to post on their Instagram/Twitter accounts. In return they get $10 discount of future rides (TheDailyDot, 2016). This is a strategic way of reaching a large amount of people at once considering the amount of followers famous people have on social media.
We can all agree that Uber has vigorously expanded over the years and this is clear through the hashtag #ubereverywhere. This tag has gotten over 30,860 posts and is generally used to display the amount of Uber drivers available in different regions worldwide. That no matter the location you are at or the time of day, there will always be an Uber to come pick you up and bring you to your desired destination.
The fourth most constant hashtag is #ubereats having 21,872 posts. Ubereats is an application you can download on your smartphone and goes along with the slogan “get the food you want, from the local restaurants you love, delivered at Uber speed” (Uber Technologies Inc., 2016). Uber Technologies is working with the “best spots in your city to put the best local food in one place” and then have it delivered to your home by an Uber driver. The total amount that needs to be paid consists of food costs and delivery price. Once the food has been placed and ordered, the customer can pay using their Uber account as well as track the order via the site. This is another way of Uber wanting to expand their market and attract more users since this can be done by a “Tap of a Button” rather than having to call a restaurant, place an order and having to either pick it up or have it delivered.
The remaining tags #uberdrivers, #taxistrike and #uberwars were barely mentioned on Instagram since it is difficult to link this type of tag with a picture because an explanation is needed. Therefore Twitter will be used to analyze these hashtags as there is more information available on that platform regarding these tags. The label #uberdrivers refers to the way uber drivers act around their customers. Actions they have made which alarmed the customer in a negative way and made him/her feel the need to post this on Twitter or events that were positive.
The tag #taxistrikes refers to taxis not being available to people and this allows for individuals to seek for an alternative which is Uber. Taxi drivers are unhappy about this matter and want “uber services to stop.” In the end people need to get around and about using a sort of transportation and since there are numerous uber drivers available, they will be used. A woman in India tweeted #taxistrike following with #uberstrikesback showing that Uber does not cross paths with problems like this.
Last but not least, #uberwars has had the least posts on Instagram yet; it has had the most controversial attention on Twitter. Regular taxi drivers are attacking Uberdrivers because they want Uber services to stop and this is resulting in people getting injured. Uber cars have been set on fire in Keyna, as well as objects being thrown onto Uber cars. This is an unfair situation because these individuals are just trying to make a living and they are not the ones to blame. This matter should be taken to the company itself. Besides this, many taxi drivers are protesting against Uber to try and get rid of the company. In Kenya taxi drivers have created handouts, which state “Let’s shut down Uber for the entire day. Do not use your app for 24 hours starting Monday. It is time for our voices to be heard.” Taxi companies have now become allies with one another to try and take down Uber together. Also, Uber is paying cuts and expecting their employees to work long hours forcing the uber drivers in Queens, NY to turn to yellow cabs. Uber is getting a lot of hate from taxi drivers around the world and this war needs to be stopped before it gets out of hand.
For our data collection, our initial plan was to use the Instagram Hashtag Explorer for all the above mentioned hashtags, however, since we ran into the issue of not being able to use the scraper anymore due to new Instagram platform regulations, we ended being able to use only one test graph, which can still give us a bit of an insight into what people actually use Uber for and what they associate it with. The hashtag we chose was simply #Uber.
In the Instagram Hashtag Explorer we used the mode “tag” because it would allow us to search only for tags relevant to our research. Next, we set the iterations to 5, so that we will get only 100 items displayed. We chose this option because this amount of data is perfectly enough for us to get a better understanding of how people use the hashtag in correlation to Uber as a company. We submitted our criteria and next, we downloaded the archive available. Following this action was taking the tagnet file from the archive and loading it into Gephy, where a rather chaotic graph appeared. But after setting the attribute range (count) to 2 and choosing the layout ForceAtlas2, we got a way more coherent graph, as seen below.
Even though the only hashtag we could use in a graph was #uber, we still though we could get some information about why people use Uber as a whole and what do they associate it with. What we found out was half expected and half rather unexpected.
What we did not expect was the fact that people associate Uber with food and drinks delivery. We found out earlier that Uber offers food delivery, which is a niche market we thought Uber would not be operating in, yet it does. But what we also found out was that there are many other delivery services that simply bring you the groceries or drinks you order on their app.
But moving on to what we expected, we can say that people start realizing more and more that drinking and driving is an absolutely forbidden thing to do, and therefore they start using Uber’s services, as they are reliable and in most cases, more affordable than taxis. Other than that, we observed the locations the tag was mainly posted in was based in cities all over the USA, which is understandable since Uber was launched in San Francisco. Other very famous uses for Uber are going to sports events. We saw a lot of hashtags related to game sports, mainly basketball and American football.
All in all, what we can derive from this graph is the fact that people prefer paying somebody to do their groceries or pick up drinks for their party, and also they make the right choice of using Uber when they go out drinking, thus not putting themselves or anyone else in danger by drunk driving.