Article Reviewed: Who creates Trends in Online Social Media: The Crowd or Opinion Leaders?


Internet slang words are popping up quickly due to social memes and viral content produced. A site called Webio, a Twitter-like service in China, is adopting the popular internet slang that happens to go through 2 distinct peaks during its temporal evolution, causing the former to be relatively lower than the latter. Yet, an in-depth comparison between the two different peaks suggests that the popular attention during its early stages has a large-scale of coverage, but the participation of opinion leaders in their early stage are a small minority. So the empirical results question the conventional influential and give insight for marketing practices and to influence the maximization in using social networks.


Literature Review

Joseph L. Williams

Literature Review

As social media is growing people who use these various means of networking, liking pictures, statuses people post and many other forms of interactive relation on the internet. Yet, everyday most people who have access to any kind of electronic device that connects to Wi-Fi or the internet is experiencing news, memes and videos of someone’s cat. As they come across this vast majority of continuously shared content around the world many of the users or posters are the ones creating the online social media trends. For example, Vine had a short clip that was famous for a while “Do It for the Vine”; were the phrase was said and those who recorded it re-enacted the original vine clip or made their own and as a result it’s been used in everyday slang/speech to refer about doing something. The viewers who are the crowd made the vine popular and as a result many other users of this social media outlet have become famous for various short clips with jokes, acting, dances or just phrases with a concept to music in the background.

“Online social interactions such as retweets, replies, comments, and mentions further boost the propagation of information, spread different ideas and synchronize the collective attention of the masses and might ultimately result in online social media trends” (Borner et al., 2004; Crane and Sornette, 2008). Especially, as technology advances and it sits at our finger tips it has replaced traditional channels and portals of news, network exchange by creating a social media revolution. The creation of social media trends depends on the popularity of the crowd and depending on how credible or likeable the user is their trends can also sweep the social network in just a few minutes, hours or days.

According, to the article there has been previous research that called attention to the multidisciplinary fields and the mechanisms that underlie the popular trends. Yet, the attention has been on the principles of the trends that hit social media and what makes them so popular. For example, hashtags on Twitter and its equivalents are frequently used to gain insight into the generation mechanism of social memes by comparing items that succeed or fail to gain social popularity (Lehmann et al., 2012; Chang, 2010; Paradowski and Jonak, 2012, 2011; Bao et al., 2013a). Lehmann et al. (2012) focus on the tracking of hashtags on Twitter and identify discrete classes of hashtags according to their popular evolution over time. This begins to identify the epidemic and the hashtag popularity and detecting what is hot or new on social media. Although, according to Webio they argue that additional exposure to trends does not improve that it will be retweeted, or of any of those means, but tracking popular events and topics is an effective way to study the collective attention and response of social media trends. Although the above studies have been on a temporal concentration or a spatial dynamic of the trends that are hitting social media, it still brings up discussion on the role of users and how the popularity of trends form is missing.

So the focus of previous studies targets the influential in social networks. Cha et al. (2010) investigate the influence users have on topics especially over time due to three measures, retweets, and mentions for Twitter. The ones who are most influential they have a significant influence on the various topics. Kempe et al. (2005) as it creates a model to study the targeting influential.

So the trends in social media are reflected by the popularity of hashtags, topics and internet slang. The collective attention hit the underlying peaks that propose the massive number of individuals during the diffusion and gives relevant information. Although, the temporal studies show the dynamics of the popularity and isolated discussions that the different individuals play in the diffusion. Webio, the Chinese sister of Twitter had selected 92 popular Internet slang words from 2013 and observed their popularity over various times. They quantified the popularity of the word quantified in a frequency of its occurrences in daily tweets on Webio. Usually these trends undergo two peaks in a timeline, for the first peak is much lower than the second one. In comparing the two peaks it gives an understanding of the forming trends of social media. According to the article, “the difference between the second peak and the first peak is exactly the reason why a word manages to obtain collective attention and become a trend. Inspired by this finding, we try to uncover who actually creates trends in online social media. Is it the crowd made up of ordinary users, or is it opinion leaders who have significant influence and great social capital?” (Asur, Huberman, Szabo & Wang, 2013 pp. 434–437).

As a result I comparing the two peaks of popularity and user composition that all tweets were randomly sampled from the stream. Each slang word mentioned, the first peak p1 is the first popularity and the second peak as p2. Understanding that #Followees, #Followers and the number of retweets created by the user and how many times they repost. Amongst these #Followers was the most convincing indicator because it had direct potential listeners in the first stage that adopted the trend or new word.

In conclusion the growth of social media over time has made social networks pretty dominant to exchange information. As Webio has accumulated more than 500 million users in under 5 years, but a 100 million tweets every day. This shows the popularity of users and those that post according to the crowd or the leader.


Reference Page

Zhao, Xu, Leihan Zhang. 2015. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication?”. Pp 1-5. in Who creates Trends in Online Social Media: The Crowd or Opinion Leaders?. Vol, 21.  Xueyuan Road, Haidian District, Beijing



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