What drives the choice of social media users to attend certain events rather than others? The answer to this question finds vital applications in personalized event recommendations. Yet, it has only been recently that the avalanche of user generated content from location-based social services truly allows the exploration of this aspect at a relevant scale.
In this work we take advantage of the location broadcasts of Foursquare users to study the social and behavioral underpinnings of event participation in three metropolitan cities - London, New York and Chicago. The main challenge we address is: what is the extent to which temporal, spatial, and social factors influence user’s decision to visit one event over another?
Not surprisingly, we confirm that social factors in their various manifestations are the dominant players when it comes to event preferences.
- Event popularity, which can be related to forces of social contagion, dominates the factors in London. We find that there are a few massively popular events in cities such as the Royal Wedding in London where more participants are lured to the crowd by forces reminiscent of gregariousness and preferential attachment.
- An explicit social filtering that checks whether friends are visiting the event tops the results in New York and Chicago. This complementary finding highlights even more the social nature of events and the gravitational aspect of friendship. If your friends are attending an event, with a high likelihood you will be joining them as a part of a social group.
- The friends’ visited place types such as bars, theaters or stadiums and the associated activities with them are also indicative of the users’ event preferences. We model this assumption by computing attraction scores towards events in a socio-spatial graph that connects users, place types and events. The modelling proves especially suitable to recommend niche content, i.e. events which are more appealing to a specific group rather than the general audience.
For more, see our full paper, The Call of the Crowd: Event Participation in Location-based Social Services.
Petko Georgiev, University of Cambridge
Anastasios Noulas, University of Cambridge
Cecilia Mascolo, University of Cambridge