Finally I found a research paper that analyzes Twitter from a network analytical perspective. The main message of the paper “Social networks that matter: Twitter under the microscope” by Huberman, Romero and Wu (see also Jeremiah Owyang’s summary) is: the number of people you follow on Twitter is not the whole truth. It’s more interesting who you are talking to whether you are following them or not. It not a connection-based network but a performance-based network. When taking a look at your Twitter network, there are three different kinds of networks:
- The Network: simply the network of your followers / followings. Those are the people whose updates you might be reading and who might be receiving your updates. This is the reach of your Twitter stream.
- The FOAF-Network: the network of your followers’ / followings’ networks. Those are the people you could potentially reach via retweeting messages. This is the extended reach of your Twitter stream.
- The @-Crowd (or the “hidden network”): the people you are talking / replying to. This is the most interesting measure, because it’s the people you are explicitely addressing. The authors of the paper call contacts you have addressed (or replied to) at least twice “friends”.