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Identifying influential twitter users


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  • 1. Chien-leng Hsu (Post-doctoral research fellow)
    Se Jung Park (PhD student)
    Han Woo Park (Associate Professor)
    Department of Media & Communication, WCU Webometrics Institute, Yeungnam University
    Presented at the 5th Complexity Conference, 27 Nov 2010, Seoul, Korea
    Identifying influential Twitter usersThe case of Sejong City in South Korea
  • 2. About this study
    This research explores influential Twitter users and Tweets by:
    Using Sejong City (세종시) as the case study
    Using different measurement methods
    Studying topics (keywords) mentioned in the Tweets
  • 3. Key Users on Twitter Communities
    The 2-step flow of communication theory (Katz & Lazarsfeld, 1964)
    (Online) opinion leaders:
    determinants of rapid & sustained behaviorchange of members in a community (Valent & Davis, 1999)
    Park, Jeong & Han (2008)
    practices (political) participation deligently
    aggressively expresses opinions
  • 4. Identifying Key Twitter Users
    The “network structure” approach:
    fails to identify influential Twitter users (Leavitt et al, 2009; Haddadi et al, 2010)
    The “actor relation” approach:
    content reachability
    Fisher & Gilbert (2009) ➭ replies, retweets, mentions & attributions
    The majority of users:
    silent & passive
    a user’s influence: information forwarding activity (Romero et al, in submission)
    Trace influential user over time
  • 5. The Sejong City Project
    The original plan (Moo-Hyun Roh in 2005):
    To allocate 2/3 of government offices to Sejong, Chungnam (충남)
    Necessary for regional development
    The excessive centralization of Seoul & its vicinity➭ limited innovation potential (Shapiro, So & Park, 2010)
    The revised plan (Myung-Bak Lee):
    A center for education, scientific research & high-tech industries
    Partitioning the capital would weaken Korea’s competitiveness & innovation capability
  • 6. Research Questions
    Who are the influential users who produce Tweets related to the Sejong City project?
    What are activities of the influential users?
    What is the relationship between the influential users?
    What are the keywords frequently used by the influential users in the Sejong City issue network?
  • 7. Data collection & analytical techniques
    Data collection
    Dates of collection: 15 March ~ 12 April 2010
    Twitter scraper: An automated computer program to retrieve Tweets from Twtkr (
    Twitter API: Twitter user’s public data
    Analytical techniques
    Basic data:
    Number of Tweets
    Lists of followings
    Lists of followers
    Pearson correlation test
    Four posting activities:
    Normal tweets
    Being retweeted by others
    Being replied by others
    Being mentioned by others
    Krkwic (keywords analysis)
  • 8. (I) Identification of influential users
  • 9. (II) Twitter activities of the influential users
  • 10. (III) Relationships between the influential users
  • 11. (IV) Keywords in the issue network of Sejong City
  • 12. Amendment of Sejong City law & politicians
    Critical reviews on Sejong City law
    Controversies & solutions
    Agreement & social welfare
    Other social & political issues
    Conflicts between political parties
    Political ideologies & concerns on national debt
    National policies
  • 13. Discussions (I)
    Influential users include media outlets & ordinary users
    Correlation tests:
    The occurrence of Tweets vs. the number of Tweets ➭ significantly correlated (Pearson correlation=0.663, p<.01)➭ Influential users tended to address public issues
    The number of followers vs. the number of followings➭ significantly correlated (Pearson correlation=0.871, p<.01)➭ Influential users had mutual ties in the network
    Influential users are likely to act as news brokers & deliver their views in a single-issue community
    Having mutual relations with other influential users may allow an influetial user to make his/her own opinions available to a wider audience
  • 14. Discussions (II)
    Referral activities/relationships
    Media outlets ➭ normal tweets ➭ messages were not circulated well among other users
    Ordinary users
    normal tweets, retweets, mentions & replies
    More likely to interact with the indirect presence of media outlets
    Keyword network
    Politicians, government projects & social-political issues mentioned
    Influential user
    some keywords specific to his/her cluster
    similar keywords used ➭ a sense of community
  • 15. Thank you.