The top five most influential Twitterers (Twitter users) who are tweeting about the Canada Games using the #2011 CanadaGames hashtag are as follows:
This list shows the most influential Twitter users, rather than most followed, and was generated using a variety of automated tools (ICTA and ORA) designed to perform social network analysis. The importance (centrality) of these users is evinced in both the ORA’s (fig.1) and ICTA’s (fig.2) network visualizations.
Fig.1. ORA’s visualization of active Twitter users based on the total degree centrality measure.
The hexagonal shape of this core group in ICTA’s visualization is also of note, illustrating at once a certain boundedness (clique-like formation), as well as the relatively intimate relations between all of these actors (high closeness centrality). Circular and polygonal network formations such as these are often associated with fairly equal distributions of information and non-hierarchical organization.
The key actors shown in this early snapshot of the 2011 Canada Games Twitter communication network can also be further subdivided according to their specific roles within the network. That is, they can be identified as sources from whom information disseminates (out-degree centrality), or sources who monitor and disseminate information from others (in-degree centrality).
Out-degree centrality Ranking (Users who contribute a lot of original content to the network and whose content is frequently retweeted):
In-degree Ranking (Users with the high awareness of what is going on in the network and who tend to retweet messages by others):
These centrality measures from Social Network Analysis make clear a number of propositions. Firstly, note how the same several actors essentially dominate the flow of information in this early snapshot of the Canada Games Twitter communication network: Team Nova Scotia, “Nova Scotia Come to Life” (novascotialife), Ringette Canada (redringette). In most cases, these users’ centrality is explainable in light of their particular relation to the Games. Specifically, many of these actors represent formal organizations related commercially to the 2011 Canada Games at one capacity or another. Even those actors whose Twitter usernames suggest their individual, independent status in the network turned out to be likewise affiliated with commercial organizations. For instance, Emily Kimber (hfxnovascotia) is communications manager for Destination Halifax, Clare Tidby (clarejoan) is the director of marketing and sponsorship for the 2011 Halifax Canada Games, and Victoria Castle (castlenes) is an online marketing officer at Nova Scotia Heritage. On the other hand, there are also a number of recurring influential users whose interests are ostensibly athletic in nature such as Team Nova Scotia and Ringette Canada (redringette), an athletic organization based in Ontario promoting and organizing Ringette [a hocky-like game featured in the 2011 Canada Games]. Taken together, these findings would seem to suggest that the initial structure of the 2011 Canada Games communication network in the lead up to the Games is dominated primarily by commercial and athletic organizations rather than private individuals.
It remains to be seen whether the Top five most influential users will hold on to their rankings during the Games and whether our initial characterization and conclusions about the Canada Games Twitter communication network will still hold true. We suspect that the top main actors of this Twitter network will remain the same, but we expect to see more participation from private individuals in this network as the Games go into full gear. Already since this weekend, we are seeing a marked increase in the number of messages being generated or retweeted by private individuals rather than organizations.
* Dr. Anatoliy Gruzd and Philip Mai contributed to the analysis and writing of this report.