Magazine article CRM Magazine

The 6 Types of Twitter Conversations: Social Media Research Foundation Takes a Social Snapshot

Magazine article CRM Magazine

The 6 Types of Twitter Conversations: Social Media Research Foundation Takes a Social Snapshot

Article excerpt

Information scientists at the Social Media Research Foundation (SMRF) have long been tracking the types of conversations taking place across social media. In five years, SMRF has created roughly 1.5 million conversation maps. With a sample that massive, patterns were "bound to emerge," says SMRF cofounder Marc Smith.

Using all of this information, SMRF has identified six categories of conversations that take place on social media sites. Smith admits that there could be more, but that research is still ongoing.

The following conversation categories have been advanced so far:

* polarized crowds, consisting of users who discuss polarizing topics, rely on sources of information, and typically don't interact with groups that disagree with them;

* tight crowds, which are close communities, such as conference attendees, who strongly connect to each other;

* broadcast networks, which are triggered by news media outlets and have many followers who rarely interact with each other;

* support networks, which are headed by companies, government agencies, or organizations that respond to complaints or questions;

* fragmented brand clusters, which are many small groups that form around products, brands, and celebrities and attract a large number of followers but foster little interconnectivity; and

* community clusters, which are medium-sized groups that surround popular, relevant topics and develop more connectivity than their fragmented counterparts.

The last two categories are particularly relevant to marketers, with the former encompassing most marketer-customer conversations, and the latter representing where they should be falling.

"In fragmented brand clusters, marketers do most of the sharing," Smith says. "Representing their brands, they tweet out company information, product promotions, links, photos, and other content. Their followers tend to favorite or retweet the content, but rarely reply or engage in conversations. This ends the discussion quickly, resulting in only a small group formation. From a relationship-building perspective, this isn't a meaningful interaction," he says.

Instead, brands should strive to form community cluster conversations. According to Smith, when marketers and brand managers construct their messages to better relate to current events or evergreen topics important to their audiences, the resulting responses create more dialogue and interconnectivity between followers, form larger groups, and ensure better brand experiences. …

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