The Pew Research Center, working with the Social Media Research Foundation and using a special software tool, analyzed and mapped millions of public tweets, retweets, hashtags and replies that form the backbone of Twitter chatter.
Here are the other five types of conversations:
- People who talk about well-known brands on Twitter tend to be disconnected from one another, focusing only on the topic at hand and not really interacting with each other. The study calls these “brand clusters.” One graph, that looked at mentions of Apple, found that users didn’t follow, reply to or mention any other person who also tweeted about the company.
- People who tweet from a social media conference, or about another highly specialized topic tend to form tight crowds of people who are connected to one another as followers. There are only a few users who are not connected to at least a few others in the group.
- “Community clusters” happen when several, evenly sized Twitter groups are connected to each other. In a sense, these can be compared “to people clustering in different stalls at a bazaar.” The conversations in this group share a common broader topic, whether that’s Michelle Obama or a tech conference, but each cluster takes a different focus.
- “Broadcast networks” are often media outlets or prominent social media figures with a lot of followers who repeat the messages such outlets send out.
- A Twitter “support network,” is the last major conversation type. These conversations usually involve a large company, such as a bank or airline, that listens and replies to consumer complaints. When mapped, the interactions in these groups tend to look like a bicycle wheel hub with many spokes.
Some of this maps to our own observations on Twitter conversation, the rest of it not so much.