Social media breeds its own elites – thestar.com
Elites are alive and well in social media, and the experts are taking their measure.
A tiny proportion of Twitter users generates the bulk of new content, and users tend to focus on messages in their field of interest, a new study has found.
In fact, “20,000 elite users, comprising less than 0.05 per cent of the user population, attract almost 50 per cent of all attention within Twitter,” reads a study released last week by a team of researchers from Cornell University and Yahoo! Research.
The study supports current intelligence on how social media sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn propagate information and opinions.
The Yahoo! analysis of 260 million tweets containing URLs sent between July of 2009 and March of 2010 suggests that Twitter works more like a grapevine, reaching an ever wider audience with each re-tweet.
Using sophisticated data mining tools that track the behaviour of social media users, rating sites such as Klout and another recent arrival, Kred, spotlight people with some influence in specific fields, from Hollywood gossip to consumer products.
Marketers benefit from getting into this zone.
“I will go so far as to say that this one simple concept is the most important piece of the Facebook marketing puzzle: Getting into your fan’s circle of influence,” writes Samara Hart, president and co-founder of Pixsym Internet Marketing.
The Twitter study divided the site’s users into four categories — celebrities, media organizations and bloggers, and found that the majority of re-tweets remained within the same category.
“Celebrities overwhelmingly pay attention to other celebrities.
“Media actors pay attention to other media actors, and so on,” the report states.
“Social media, for us, is an incredible portal into the behaviour of potential consumers, our consumers and customers,” said Bernardo Huberman, director of the Social Research Group at HP Labs, in an interview.
There is so much clustering of opinion in social media that Huberman’s lab can predict what a movie’s box office receipts will be two weeks before it goes into wide release.
But sheer numbers don’t tell the whole tale.
“It’s not correlated with the number of followers you have, most of the time,” Huberman added.
Klout measures a person’s score three ways: “True reach,” meaning how many people are influenced; “amplification,” showing how much a user influences others; and “network impact,” the larger influence of a user’s circle.
The Twitter study went beyond users themselves to assess the longevity of a tweet’s content.
Researchers discovered that news-related tweets spend the least amount of time being passed around, because there are updates over the course of a typical news cycle.
On the other hand, the study found that messages containing links to pictures and videos are much more likely to be passed around and discovered by other users weeks and months later