twitter trends driven by old media

For all the talk about “new media,” it appears that old media still powers the online trends of today. Last month, HP released the results of a study that showed that user activity and number of followers on Twitter do not contribute strongly to trend creation and its propagation. Instead, mainstream media play a role in most trending topics, and act as a feeder of these trends.

HP’s director in charge of the study noted “Twitter users . . . seem to be acting more as filter and amplifier of traditional media in most cases.” The study involved an analysis of 40 days worth of Twitter data. Of the resulting 16.32 million tweets, HP identified 22 users who were the source of the most retweets when a topic was “trending.” Of those 22, 72% were Twitter streams run by mainstream media outfits such as CNN and the New York Times.

Why do you think traditional media sources still reign on Twitter? Is it because traditional media still are the source of most stories? Or is the power of new media diluted by pop stars, Hollywood actors, and other users who might post more trivial material? Or could you argue that the “powerful” Twitter users really are driving the trends, because the mainstream media source would never get the attention that it does without the power users? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

HP research shows mainstream media drive Twitter ‘trends’ to a surprising degree [The Official HP Corporate Blog]