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Updated by Nick Kellet on Nov 13, 2015
Headline for Twitter Conversations - Six Categories
Nick Kellet Nick Kellet
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Twitter Conversations - Six Categories

How do so many different personalities interact and exist on one network? That's what the Pew Research Center decided to find out.



Polarized Crowd

Polarized Crowd

If you like to talk politics on Twitter, this may be your group. Polarized crowds tend to occur when the topic of conversation is something controversial and often political, such as Obamacare. The conflicting nature of the subject matter pushes users into one of two camps: a conservative group and a liberal group. There is very little interaction between the two.

"Polarized Crowds on Twitter are not arguing," the study reads. "They are ignoring one another while pointing to different web resources and using different hashtags."

Despite sharing the same general subject matter, these users are not sharing the same material. Liberals link to more mainstream news websites, while conservatives tend to share "conservative news websites and commentary sources," the study found.


Tight Crowd

Tight Crowd

If you've attended a work conference where they encourage you to tweet with a hashtag, or if you are part of a niche club or hobby group, you may identify with Tight Crowd conversations on Twitter.

These conversations are often lacking "isolated participants," aka outsiders. It's for Twitter users who are in the know, share a common interest, and are likely part of the same network on Twitter (they follow each other or similar people).

"These dense networks are often communities of people who are aware of one another and converse often," the study reads. "These networks have many people who follow one another and reply to and mention one another."


Brand Clusters

Brand Clusters

Perhaps you are a Belieber. Or maybe you love everything Apple comes out with. If you like to tweet about brands or celebrities, you'll fit in well with a Brand Cluster.

These conversations are typically isolated, meaning they don't involve a lot of back and forth messages between Twitter users. The thread that holds these groups together is a similar topic — a brand or celeb — but not necessarily the banter that we see in Polarized Crowds or Tight Groups.

According to the study: "Often times, the Twitter chatter about these institutions and their messages is not among people connecting with each other. Rather, they are relaying or passing along the message of the institution or person and there is no extra exchange of ideas."

Tweeting that you love your new iPhone 5S or that the Seattle Seahawks won the Super Bowl may put you in this group. Brand Clusters demonstrate power in numbers, but not necessarily sustained conversation.


Community Clusters

Community Clusters

Similar to Brand Clusters, Community Clusters are formed when a number of users talk about the same topic. Unlike Brand Clusters, these groups tend to engage more with one another, and often develop a number of smaller communities that dive deeper into that shared topic.

For example, many users use the hashtag #FLOTUS (First Lady of the United States) to talk about Michelle Obama. But the conversations differ by Twitter group. Some may discuss her appearance on The Tonight Show, while others may be talking about Ms. Obama in reference to larger political discussions.

Interactions in these groups aren't as strong as Tight Crowd conversations, but they tend to be stronger than the group of isolated users that make up Brand Clusters.


Broadcast Network

Broadcast Network

Do you turn to CNN or Fox News for your breaking Twitter news? If you are loyal to a few select journalists or news organizations, Broadcast Networks may be familiar to you.

These types of conversational groups form when a bunch of people are discussing the same braking news topic, but in groups that boast their own leader or central figure. For example, during the Boston Marathon Bombing last spring, the Twitter world was abuzz with news and conversations. But depending on where you live, or which news outlets you follow, you were most likely participating in a different Broadcast Network than others online.

Members of this group are not often connected — except for the shared bond of following the same news leaders.


Support Network

Support Network

Unlike Broadcast Networks, where most of the information from the central source is shared outward by followers, Support Networks send content the other way.

This tends to happen in a situation where customers are complaining or providing feedback to a brand's customer service account, researchers found. The group consists of isolated users engaging with one central figure — but the content is sent inward to the company, not outward to the Twittersphere. Brands often respond to users in this way (if they have active customer support teams), creating a two-way connection that isn't as common in Broadcast Networks.