Massive Twitter research project yields insights on influence

My latest CNN post is actually not about mobile, for a change. It’s about the findings from a huge Twitter analysis done by an international research team.

See: How to gain influence on Twitter? Focus

Get this: They got Twitter to release to them a dataset of tweets from nearly 55 million accounts that were in use as of August 2009. That’s nearly 1.7 billion tweets, interconnected by almost 1.9 billion “social links” — which I think means @replies or retweets.

From this, they figured out some things about how influence works on Twitter. Basically, if you’re not already a celebrity or a major news organization or aggregator, then the key to gaining influence through Twitter is to focus on one or a couple of topics.

Also, the report has a good discussion of why popularity does not necessarily equal influence, especially on Twitter.

The research team is releasing its anonymized dataset. I bet other people will have a lot of fun running other analyses of this dataset.

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