Thank you, Tom Feremski for reporting on Hewlett Packard's scientific measurement of social media behaviors in an attempt to answer the question: what makes a Twitter user influential?Not "popular," influential.
Dr. Bernardo Huberman, director of HP's Social Computing Lab, has been applying scientific principles to measuring Twitter influence. The study measured reTweet traffic to URLs using Bit.ly's click tracking. The results shouldn't be surprising to anyone. From the ZDNet article:
The study found:
- Most Twitter users are passive; they do not re-Tweet.
- There is a difference between popularity and influence. High numbers of followers does not equal influence because those followers do not re-Tweet.
- To become influential, Twitter users must somehow persuade their followers to re-Tweet.
What's interesting is that the study took the idea of influence over popularity one step further, to the world of advertising, PR and media placement. By this logic, a brand would benefit more from ad placement in a print magazine or newspaper with lower circulation but higher influence--that is, fans with a higher level of engagement.
Uh oh. I bet some PR guys are shaking in their boots right now. Circulation stats aren't enough. It's no longer enough for people to see the ad on TV or in the paper; they need to see it on a show or publication that is specifically influential in their lives. As Bruce Henry pointed out at BarCamp, niche is the new in. An ad, Tweet or campaign targeted at a small, devoted fan following can be far more powerful than one that cuts a wide swathe across a moderately interested public.
And now we can measure that.