We were interested in seeing what the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), an independent agency of the executive branch of the United States, looked like on Twitter. We made use of NodeXL which clusters Twitter discussion into a number of different groups, and it also produces associated frequencies alongside them such as top URLs, keywords, hashtags, and co-words.
The graph below represents a network of 12,199 Twitter users whose recent tweets contained “NASA”, or who were replied to or mentioned in those tweets, taken from a data set limited to a maximum of 18,000 tweets. The network was obtained from Twitter on Wednesday, 30 August 2017 at 21:10 UTC. The graph gallery version of the network graph can be found here.
Figure 1 – Network Graph of NASA
The network graph is clearly made up of a number of different groups of users which converse about NASA in different ways. One of the most interesting aspects of the analysis is that there is a very large isolates group on the left hand side which has the label G1. This represents users who have tweeted about NASA, but who are not connected to one another on Twitter i.e., they don’t follow each other. It appears that Twitter users within the isolates group were tweeting an article titled NASA’s IceBridge Surveys Glaciers in Northeast Greenland which was shared by at least n=3,170 Twitter users in the graph overall. The most popular domain consisted of nasa.gov with n=3897 occurrences, and the most popular hashtag consisted of nasa with 550 occurrences.
We are always interested to examine the Twitter users who appeared to be most influential using the metric of betweenness centrality in the discussion overall, and the top 5 users consisted of:
- NASA, which has a total of 25.7 million followers.
- The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) from Kenya, which as a total of 234 thousand followers.
- Akwa Jones, from Kenya Nairobi whom has a total of 142 followers.
- The official Twitter account for NASA Voyager .
- A Twitter account on World and Science which has 1.25 million followers.
It is interesting to see Akwa Jones, a citizen from Kenya, with only 142 followers appear as a user with high influence, as well as the IEBC from Kenya as these these users appear to have little association with NASA, the space agency. After careful investigation, it appears that NASA is also an acronym for the National Super Alliance which is a Kenyan political coalition.
This case highlights an important aspect of social media analytics which is the careful interpretation of analytics. Sonic Social Media’s basic monitoring package includes four network graphs a week, and also interpretation from a PhD researcher, and experienced social media consultant. It can be argued that automated industry tools may lack academic rigour, and without proper interpretation may lead to the incorrect conclusions. At Sonic Social media we ensure our conclusions are backed up by the data.