I was reading this post this morning from Cool News and wanted to share these insights. It is quite interesting how #hashtags have taken off. Do you use them? What are your favorite #hashtags?
A group of Cornell computer scientists have released a study of Twitter #hashtags, and why some topics catch on quickly while others languish, reports Natasha Singer in the New York Times (2/7/11). The study “analyzed the 500 most popular hashtags among more than three billion messages posted on Twitter from August 2009 and January 2010.” It found that “the latest conversational idioms,” such as #cantlivewithout or #dontyouhate, tend to picked up more quickly than “contentious themes like politics,” where people need to see a topic “four, five or six times on Twitter before posting it themselves.”
This might explain why the hashtag #icantdateyou scored 274,000 mentions on Twitter in a single hour last Tuesday, while #Mubarak garnered just 11,000 during the same timeframe (granted, the Egyptian government had cut off the internet at the time). However, regardless of the topic, “people often wait until a number of friends or trusted sources have promoted an idea before promulgating it themselves.” The “structure of a social network” also matters “more than the size of the group,” with a smaller, more connected group wielding relatively more influence than a larger, less connected one: a tweet by a leading blogger with a few thousand followers could be more influential than Ashton Kutcher’s six million devotees.
Similarly, Stanford University researchers found that, in some cases, “bloggers, over time, had more influence than mainstream publications.” The study actually provides “a quantitative way to predict which stories will hold attention and which will fade rapidly, based on who covers the material first.” The study’s authors predict that, within a few years “we will be at a stage where marketers will be more mathematical and less intuition driven.” Meanwhile, a 2009 study of Cyworld, a South Korean social-networking site, ironically found that the least connected network members tended to be more influenced by friends’ purchases than the most connected members, who “often resist peer influences.” ~ Tim Manners, editor.