Yahoo and Cornell University did a big research project on Twitter, trying to figure out “Who Says What to Whom on Twitter.”Here’s what they figured out:
Twitter is a media platform, not a social network. “First, we find that although audience attention has indeed fragmented among a wider pool of content producers than classical models of mass media, attention remains highly concentrated, where roughly 0.05% of the population accounts for almost half of all attention.”
Twitter is clique-y. “Within the population of elite users, moreover, attention is highly homophilous, with celebrities following celebrities, media following media, and bloggers following bloggers.”
Twittter is the Evening News broadcast: full of stories reported elsewhere, brought to your attention by a personality you trust. “Second, we find considerable support for the two-step flow of information—almost half the information that originates from the media passes to the masses indirectly via a diffuse intermediate layer of opinion leaders, who although classified as ordinary users, are more connected and more exposed to the media than their followers.”
News stories don’t last long on Twitter. Laga Gaga sticks around forever. “We also find that different types of content exhibit very different lifespans. In particular, media-originated URLs are disproportionately represented among short-lived URLs while those originated by bloggers tend to be overrepresented among long-lived URLs. Finally, we find that the longest-lived URLs are dominated by content such as videos and music, which are continually being rediscovered by Twitter users and appear to persist indefinitely.”
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