A recently released report by Yahoo! Research entitled ‘Who Says What to Whom on Twitter’ (which we found via Hypebot, thanks) includes some impressive revelations, especially in terms of community management.
Not least, the stat that says 0.05% of tweeters generate around 50% of all Twitter action shows that the micro-blogging site is less of a social forum than perhaps some would like to think – there clearly is a heirarchy in place. A heiracrchy not so far away from traditional top-down broadcast models.
In terms of community management, the guys (and girls) at Yahoo! Research have pointed to Lasswell’s two step flow theory (‘What what?’ I hear you say. The only reason I know this stuff is because I’m a disgruntled media studies graduate. Bare with me) to explain the way information is transmitted via Twitter.
Basically, there are a series of ‘opinion leaders’ (in Twitter’s case, influential celebrities/ bloggers/ journalists) that keep the information flowing from its source (using retweets and linking).
In this sense, there are a lot of unwitting community managers out there on Twitter, translating messages from the top, down to the little people below. It’s not rocket science really – if you have a lot of followers, what you tweet will be retweeted by your followers, whose followers will then retweet and so on. This means there is still information coming from the top and working its way down to the ‘ordinary people’.
It’s not surprising then, that certain celebrities, with large followings have been approached by companies to endorse their products on Twitter (and that Twitter have picked up on this and started cracking down). You can see the danger here as the line between community management and marketing becomes blurred.