As an avid Twitter user, I’m often asked by my followers to retweet their messages in order to get them trending in the Tweetosphere. While the general belief is that the greater the number of retweets, higher is the probability of getting that topic to trend. However, a new research from HP shows that mainstream media acts as the primary feeder for news topics, there by helping it find a coveted trending spot on Twitter.
The report also says that Twitter users act more as filter and amplifier of traditional media in most cases. Here’s an in-depth look at the findings of HP Labs’ Social Computing Research Group.
It’s not about individuals
You may be a prolific tweeter or your followers may leave no stone unturned in retweeting your messages, but that doesn’t guarantee that a spot in Twitter Trends.
HP Researchers scanned through a sample of 16.32 million tweets to test the mainstream-media theory against the possibility that retweets by trend-setting Twitter users with mass followings determine which subjects make it to the big board. A large number of messages from mainstream news sources became trends after they were retweeted, or sent along in messages by Twitter members to their followers.
The research reveals that trendsetting Twitter users include @cnnbrk, @breakingnews, @nytimes, @espn and @huffingtonpost, all mainstream media feeders and most related to news. Others such as @skynewsbreak, @elpais, @reuters, @washingtonpost and @cbsnews also have several trending topics to their credit.
It’s interesting to note that most news related Twitter profiles have far lesser followers than celebrities such as Ashton Kutcher, Barack Obama or Lady Gaga.
Subject is crucial
To get mainstream media into the act, the subject has to be interesting as well as informational. Thirty-one percent of trending topics are retweets and most Twitter users retweet messages which they believe are useful information. Intriguing subjects such as breaking news are likely to attract the attention of mainstream media as well as make a good subject for retweets.
vTrends are short-lived
The research confirms that most trending topics don’t survive beyond 40 minutes or so, the most dominant, longer-lasting trends were those that took hold over diverse audience members. I come across several users who are desperate to get their topics trending without knowing if it would add any value or not.
What about business users?
I’ve always emphasized that businesses are better off using a perfect blend of mainstream media and social media rather than adopting one in favor of the other. This research from HP confirms that mainstream media plays a crucial role in determining the outcome of a business’ social media campaigns and vice-versa.
Twitter is fast emerging as a leading online news source and coupled with traditional media, it serves as an innovative channel for announcing new product launches, services and business offerings.