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High Level Holiday Reading: Academics Take on Twitter

rsaweb1If your take Time magazine’s advice about putting away your smart phone to focus on friends and family but are still looking for a way to get your social media ‘fix’ we are proud to recommend these recent research reports that you can print out and read by the fire:

Twitter in Congress: Outreach vs. Transparency”
by Fen Chi and Nathan Yang of the University of Toronto. Based on the 2008 election results and the 11th Congress, it will be interesting to see if their conclusions hold for the 112th:

Democrats and Republicans benefit from Twitter in different ways. A bolder claim from our study says that Democrats care about transparency, while Republicans care about outreach…The main factors in the perceived benefit of Twitter adoption are peer effects, outreach and/or transparency..

Members of congress who belong to a large number of committees and/or are committee chairs are less likely to adopt Twitter… For both parties, the effect that their party leader’s strength has on Twitter adoption is negative; These estimates tell us two things: 1) Twitter may (also) be used to reach out to voters who support the rival party; and 2) reaching out to opposing voters matters more for Republicans than Democrats.

Parents and relatives mocking your Twitter habit? If so, show them this report about how Twitter may in fact be a more valuable investment advisor than their current stock broker:  Tweets and Trades- The Information Content of Stock Microblogs” by Timm Sprenger and Isabell Welpe:

Using methods from computational linguistics, we analyze roughly 250,000 stock related tweets, on a daily basis for the first 6 months of 2010. Our study compares the tweets’ sentiment, message volume, and level of agreement with the corresponding market features return, trading volume, volatility, and spread.

We find the bullishness of tweets to be associated with abnormal stock returns… An event study of buy and sell signals shows that microbloggers follow a contrarian strategy. Message volume can predict next-day trading volume. Next to the analysis of tweet and market features,our results offer an explanation for the efficient aggregation of information in microblogging forums. Users who provide above average investment advice are retweeted (i.e., quoted) more often, have more followers and are thus given a greater share of voice in microblogging forums. In sum, we find that stock microblogs contain valuable information that is not yet fully incorporated in current market indicators.

Finally if Uncle Bob starts giving you a hard time about how he has more Twitter followers, ask him if he agrees with Spearman’s rank correlation coefficient as presented in the seminal report  Measuring User Influence in Twitter: The Million Follower Fallacy which points out:  

“First, popular users who have high indegree are not necessarily influential in terms of spawning retweets or mentions. Second, most influential users can hold significant influence over a variety of topics. Third, influence is not gained spontaneously or accidentally, but through concerted effort such as limiting tweets to a single topic.”