Move over, the New York Times - an analysis of Twitter trends has shown that celebrities often have more influence on peoples' opinions on big news stories than major news organizations.
"For the topic of Haiti, singer Adam Lambert was the most influential tweeter," said Professor Alok Choudhary of Northwestern University. "For the Chilean miner rescue topic, comedian Conan O’Brian was the most influential, and singer Ricky Martin was number two."
Popular news organizations, however, did manage to make themselves heard on some topics. For example, NPR News was the most influential tweeter on the topic of Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks. About 70 percent of all tweets about WikiLeaks expressed positive sentiments toward Assange, said Choudhary.
Through www.pulseofthetweeters.com, Choudhary and his team use data mining, social network analysis and sentiment analysis to determine top influencers and sentiment distribution of the topics trending on Twitter.
The website uses a specialized algorithm to rank the most influential people tweeting on trending topics. To qualify as a top influencer on a topic, the user must actively tweet about the topic and have a following that also tweets about the same topic.
Other patterns were more predictable. For the trending topic #thankful, in which people tweet about what they are thankful for, Justin Bieber was the most influential tweeter. Coca-Cola was one of the top influencers for the topic of #icantlivewithout, presumably thanks to some clever marketing practices.
E! Online was consistently the top- or second-ranked influencer on the topic of award shows such as the Grammys, the American Music Awards and MTV award shows. There was no top common influencer for all other top-trending tweeted TV shows such as Glee, The Family Guy and CSI.