Invisible Children’s video #Kony2012 was the most viral media we’ve ever witnessed, accruing over 100 million views within a few days. Yet this “virality” didn’t just happen overnight. It was an outcome of a well planned campaign that was coordinated over years amongst networks of supporters across the US. This became crystal clear by looking at data, specifically how densely clustered the initial audience had been. In this case, the video was heavily shared amongst pre-existing networks of supporters who were activated at the same time. For a message to spread, it must be picked out from overflowing streams of updates, photos and links, and chosen to be reposted by each individual. The networked nature of social media may give some messages an overwhelming boost in popularity, but in most cases they fade as fast as they were created. Analyzing social streams can provide important insight about networked audiences: who they are, what excites them, when they’re active, how they’re clustered and who’s an authority. When intelligently predicted, captured and visualized we can use data analysis methods to draw important insight. Gilad Lotan is the VP of Research and Development at SocialFlow, a New York City company that uses science and real-time data to help businesses earn greater attention and engagement on Twitter and Facebook. Previously, Gilad served as a program manager at Microsoft’s FUSE labs. Past work includes ‘Retweet Revolution’, visualizing the flow of information during the 2009 #IranElection riots, and a study investigating the relationship between mainstream media and social media channels during the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions. Gilad’s work has been presented at TED, SXSW, Summit Series, Berkeley BCNM and published at HICCS, CHI, IJOC and ICWSM.
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