Beyond the Classroom: New Study by MIS Professor Sudha Ram Examines How News Spreads on Twitter
By Alexis Blue
A study of the Twitter activity of 12 major news agencies shows varying levels of success for the social network as a news-sharing tool, based on factors like article lifespan and number of retweets.
Nearly every major news organization has a Twitter account these days, but just how effective is the microblogging website at spreading news? That’s the question University of Arizona professor Sudha Ram set out to answer in a recent study of a dozen major news organizations that use the social media website as one tool for sharing their content.
The answer, according to Ram’s research, varies widely by news agency, and there may not be one universally applicable strategy for maximizing Twitter effectiveness. However, news agencies can learn a lot by looking at how their news diffuses once it is posted on Twitter, said Ram, McClelland Professor of Management Information Systems.
Ram, who recently presented her findings at the International Workshop on Business Applications of Social Network Analysis in Istanbul, examined, over a six-month period, the Twitter activity of 12 major news organizations focused on U.S. news, global news, technology news or financial news.
All of the agencies selected – The New York Times, Washington Post, BBC, NPR, Reuters, Guardian, Forbes, Financial Times, Mashable, Arstechnica, Wired and Bloomberg – regularly share news articles on Twitter, which allows users to post 140-character messages as well as links to online content.
Ram, working with Devi Bhattacharya, an MIS doctoral student at the UA, tracked what happened to a news article after it was tweeted by a news organization. Together, they looked at how many people retweeted, or reposted, the article on their own Twitter feeds, then how many times it was subsequently retweeted from those accounts and so forth.