Major news organisations drive Twitter trends

According to a report released by computer giant HP, trending topics on Twitter are not determined by the number of followers or level of activity a user has on the social network. It turns out that mainstream media coverage is the driving force, even then it’s only a handful of news organisations that are determining the agenda.

HP researchers studied a sample of 16.32 million tweets during Q4 2010 and discovered that only 22 users are the source of most trending topics.

Of these 22 influential twitter feeds, 17 are run by mainstream news organisations, including Reuters, the BBC and The Telegraph.

The key takeaway from the report is that social media is no replacement for old-school journalism.

“Twitter users act more as filter and amplifier of traditional media,” said Bernardo Huberman, HP Senior Fellow and director of HP Labs‘ Social Computing Research Group.

On average, according to HP’s report, 40 minutes is the longest time a topic will stay at the top of Twitter.

My take? Each and every day we see the issues revealed in this report play out on Twitter. Just look at how many tweeps spend their time retweeting Mashable instead of creating their own content. This practice seems a folly to me. Tweeting other people’s ideas will never set anyone apart from the crowd.

Even so, I am shocked by how few (22) feeds actually influence Twitter trends. Surely this can’t be healthy?

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Sherrilynne Starkie is a consultant at PDMS. For almost 18 years, Sherrilynne has been advising blue-chip organisations on both sides of the pond, covering Britain, Canada and the United States. For three years, Sherrilynne was the Tech Talk columnist for the Isle of Man newspapers. She serves on the steering committee for Isle of Man Women in Business, is on the Executive Council for the Isle of Man Junior Chamber of Commerce. In the past she was on the management committee for the Isle of Man British Computer Society and the marketing committee of Junior Achievement.