Social Network Analysis of Twitter Interactions: A Directed Multilayer Network Approach

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Effective employment of social media for any social influence outcome requires a detailed understanding of the target audience. Social media provides a rich repository of self-reported information that provides insight regarding the sentiments and implied priorities of an online population. Using Social Network Analysis, this research models user interactions on Twitter as a weighted, directed network. Topic modeling through Latent Dirichlet Allocation identifies the topics of discussion in Tweets, which this study uses to induce a directed multilayer network wherein users (in one layer) are connected to the conversations and topics (in a second layer) in which they have participated, with inter-layer connections representing user participation in conversations. Analysis of the resulting network identifies both influential users and highly connected groups of individuals, informing an understanding of group dynamics and individual connectivity. The results demonstrate that the generation of a topically-focused social network to represent conversations yields more robust findings regarding influential users, particularly when analysts collect Tweets from a variety of discussions through more general search queries. Within the analysis, PageRank performed best among four measures used to rank individual influence within this problem context. In contrast, the results of applying both the Greedy Modular Algorithm and the Leiden Algorithm to identify communities were mixed; each method yielded valuable insights, but neither technique was uniformly superior. The demonstrated four-step process is readily replicable, and an interested user can automate the process with relatively low effort or expense.


This is a U.S. Government work and not under copyright protection in the US; foreign copyright protection may apply 2023.

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Social Network Analysis and Mining