Twitter: it's our source for everything from breaking news updates to amazing pictures of other people's sandwiches (never stop doing this, America!). Now researchers say they've found six distinct shapes that Twitter conversations take.
These six rings to rule all Twitter are the work of Pew Research's Internet Project, which generated the maps by poring over thousands of Twitter conversations to see how people interacted, mentioned each other, and retweeted. Here are all six maps — and what they mean:
Especially common in political topics, these conversations feature two or more groups all taking about the same topic — but only with the people that agree with them. Though they share the same topics, the links, hashtags, and the tweeters themselves are all largely separate.
Usually made up of a groups of hobbyists clustered around a single topic. You'll see these tight-knit circles organized both by interest and occasionally also by event, when a large conference or meeting takes place.
Instead of being organized as a group with multiple key players, this conversation is centered around a single entity — be that a product or a person — with a wide-following among tweeters who tend to interact just with it, not each other.
Like brand clusters, except organized around events or interests and with lots of different mini-clusters taking the place of one big cluster.
Made up mostly of people for whom Twitter is secondary to another outlet — whether TV, movies, or just an old-school newpaper — that they've already built up a following in. This group tends to see much heavier retweeting action then any other group, but much less conversation.
Basically a customer service line, in 140 characters or less. These are usually corporate Twitter accounts that respond to either customer complaints or even just product mentions.
Have a suggestion for a kind of conversation that the researchers missed? Tell us about it now — in 140 characters, or not.