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Saturday, September 27 • 14:16 - 14:35
"Network Structures For A Better Twitter Community"

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Background: East Los High (ELH) is a teen drama purposefully designed to promote safe sex and teen pregnancy prevention among Latino youth in the United States. This 24-episode TV show was premiered exclusively on Hulu in June 2013. It features transmedia storytelling by using a variety of digital media platforms to roll out additional content, engage viewers, enrich their narrative experience, and promote health and social messages. Twitter has an important social media platform for these efforts.

Objective: As part of a comprehensive, multi-phase, multi-method program evaluation, this study aimed to understand the structures of the ELH Twitter hashtag network and explore the potential to build a better community around the show, enhance the efficacy of its health messages, and ultimately help obtain its social objectives.

Methods: Social network analysis is a useful method for understanding the structures of social media networks (Gruzd & Haythornthwaite, 2013).  We used NodeXL to calculate key network indicators and generate visualizations of the interactions between @EastLosHighShow and its 2,136 Twitter followers with tweets that included #ELH, #ELHaddict(s), and/or #EastLosHigh from May 1, 2013 to January 31, 2014.

Results: Network analyses revealed a clear core-periphery structure among the linked users and a large proportion of isolates in the network. The core group was comprised of ELH and eight of its cast members, whereas the periphery was a sizable mix of ELH viewers, advisors, and other media organizations. A majority of the followers (80.7%) did not use the ELH hashtags to tweet about the show. In addition, we also discovered that most of the advisors, media organizations, and influencers that ELH listed on its official Twitter account did not follow back, or even if they did, they did not tweet about ELH frequently. The non-followers and isolated followers are the latent ties, representing social capital yet untapped.

Conclusions: Network analyses and visualizations rendered an onion-like layered structure in the ELH hashtag network. For ELH to build a better Twitter community, we provide recommendations based on Smith, Rainie, Shneiderman, and Himelboim’s (2014) Pew Report: (1) ELH maintains the enthusiastic hub of core members but also mindfully engages the fans to join their conversations; (2) ELH activates the salient latent ties and encourage their listed advisors and connected media organizations (especially those with high number of followers) to follow back and help promote the show; and (3) ELH converts the isolated followers from passive lurkers to active participants in discussions about the show, the cast, and the social and health issues.




Gruzd, A. & Haythornthwaite, C. (2013). Enabling community through social media. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 15(10): e248. doi:10.2196/jmir.2796

Smith, M., Rainie, L., Shneiderman, B., & Himelboim, I. (2014, February 20). Mapping Twitter topic networks: From polarized crowds to community clusters. Available on http://www.pewinternet.org/2014/02/20/mapping-twitter-topic-networks-from-polarized-crowds-to-community-clusters/

avatar for Gregory Saxton

Gregory Saxton

Associate Professor, University at Buffalo, The State University of New York
Associate Professor of Communication at SUNY-Buffalo. Pythonista. Technology fan. Coffee lover. I conduct research to find insights into how organizations use – and should use – social media for communicating and engaging with their stakeholders. I also post on my website tutorials... Read More →

Hua Wang

Associate Professor, University at Buffalo, SUNY

Weiai Xu

University at Buffalo, The State University of New York
I am a PhD candidate in the field of Communication and Technology.

Saturday September 27, 2014 14:16 - 14:35
TRS 1-149 Ted Rogers School of Management

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