A number of years back, I read Malcolm Gladwell’s book The Tipping Point which presents his thesis on why things “go viral”. Its a very powerful book, even if it has received some interesting criticism. Bells started ringing for me as soon as I started reading a recent publication from a group of students at Oxford University titled The Dynamics of Protest Recruitment through an Online Network. The paper is a bold attempt to monitor the spread of information about a protest on Twitter, and it draws some interesting conclusions based on the results.
Perhaps most importantly, these sorts of studies will help the marketing army to re-evaluate how they carry out their campaigns, but I also hope that it convinces some people that they should just give up tweeting because nobody is really that interested.
The researchers behind the paper focussed on the surge of protest mobilization that took place in Spain in May 2011 and resulted in a fairly large camped protest in the centers of many of the major cities in Spain, including the Plaza del Sol in Madrid. During the period of a month, starting on the 25th April 2011 (20 days before the mass mobilisations started) and finishing on 25 May 2011 (3 days after the national elections), over 87 000 Twitter users were tracked for nearly 600,000 protest messages. Through the Twitter API, it was possible for the researchers to determine who each user follows and who in turn follows that user. By following how messages spread through this network of relationships, they determined which nodes were most effective at user ‘activation’. Leer más “How much online influence do you have?”