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How to Create a Visual Map of Your Twitter Network

Last week’s second annual The Social Shake-Up brought together a crowd of more than 600 marketing, communications, and public relations professionals.  The attendees heard rousing speeches by Jeremiah Owyang and Bryan Kramer,  listened to a provocative conversation about the future of social business between Brian Solis and SMT CEO Robin Carey, and laughed until they cried listening to Baratunde Thurston’s closing keynote.

On a visual level, Nick from Ludic Creatives illustrated the keynotes in real-time. The visual scribes were colorful, animated, and help to capture the essence of each speaker’s topic.

But there was another visual that was created during the conference that hasn't been disclosed until now. The Social Media Foundation, a nonprofit based in California, created a map of the Twitter network during the conference around the hashtag “socialshakeup.”

The graphic for #socialshakeup represents a network of 513 Twitter users whose tweets used the hashtag, or who were replied or mentioned in those tweets from Thursday, September 18 to Sunday, September 21.

According to Marc Smith, a sociologist and former Microsoft researcher who helped develop NodeXL, a Twitter network mapping software, the graphic is important for social media managers because it helps them identify “the mayor of your hashtag.”

“NodeXL identifies the influencers around a specific hashtag,” Smith says.  “As we know, the goal on Twitter is not to gain many followers, but to gain well-positioned ones.”

In the Social Shake-Up map, as with other network Twitter maps, a few people will occupy key positions in which they have many connections, or have social ties that bridge gaps between subgroups, Smith explains.  A good proxy for the strategic value of a person’s location is their “between centrality,”—a measure of how much a person acts as a bridge between others. Take a look:

twitter network map

For #socialshakeup, the top ten influencers are:

  1. socialmedia2day
  2. shellkillebrew (Michelle Killebrew, global marketing head at IBM Social Business)
  3. briansolis (Principal analyst, Altimeter Group)
  4. jowyang (Jeremiah Owyang, founder of Crowd Companies)
  5. robincarey (SMT CEO)
  6. sandy_carter (GM of IBM for Ecosystems & a Social Business Evangelist)
  7. meilinfung (Mei Lin Fung, a social network leader)
  8. chrisstrub (a social change agent)
  9. adamnaide (head of social at Cox Communications)
  10. dgingiss (Dan Gingiss, director, digital customer experience and social at Discover)

Armed with this type of information, social media managers can identify influencers they may not know about, and engage with them to amplify their brand’s messages.

“We are trying to make network insight part of a toolkit for decision makers in companies,” says Smith. “Within 45 minutes we can have a map created, and can set up an automated program that will run for you at certain intervals throughout the day.”

Even better, the Social Media Foundation, whose mission it is to create open tools, host open data, and support open scholarship related to social media, offers the NodeXL mode to companies for free. 

network / shutterstock

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