Twitter connections

New research on Twitter’s global impact has implications for leaders who want to leverage influence in their ministries.

Since I fly alot to work with leaders around the world, some new “twitter trends” research on the global impact of Twitter’s social media caught my ear. Steve Inskeep & Shankar Vedantam’s piece called, Why Twitter Ties Resemble Airline Hub Maps has some potentially interesting implications. Apparently two assumptions about Twitter are totally wrong: 1) Geography no longer matters, 2) Twitter is a truly cross-cultural medium. Instead, Barry Wellman, a sociologist from the University of Toronto, did a study of 1/2 million Twitter users and found some Twitter trends worth considering. Those who use Twitter care about 1) Local interests, and 2) People who live in similar cities as they do. So if your Twitter followers are an airline flight away from the city you live in, they are more likely to follow you.

How People Define “Community” Might be Changing

What could these Twitter trends mean? It may mean that the way people define “community” is changing. Wellman proposes that Twitter follows a similar pattern as one of those flight maps you find in the back of the airline magazine… (you know, the cheesy maps that show arcing lines connecting cities that their airline network flies to around the world). Wellman suggests that the way cities are connected through transportation and commerce, is an indicator of how people might end up connecting with you by “following” your tweets and other social media. Pretty weird, but this might be a big discovery on global social patterns.

An Experiment for Twitter Users with a Moral Motivation

No one knows how much this Twitter trend really matters, but if you are experimenting with using Twitter and Facebook for redemptive reasons like I’m trying to do, then it might behoove you to focus your efforts on similar cities as the one you live in rather than trying to “reach the world” which isn’t really going to happen. Don’t waste your time trying to be all things to all people… just be yourself and realize that folks who are interested in the stuff you care about in other similar cities around the world might just follow you if you have something worthwhile to say.

To help the process along, I just did some quick research this morning and found the major hub cities for the world’s largest three airline networks. If you’d like to glance at these cities, you can download my simple spreadsheet: List of Major Cities/Airport Hubs of the Three Largest Airline Networks. Also, you can view all three airline network’s interactive flight maps here:

Take Action

Here a few suggestions for those experimental souls out there that want to see if these latest Twitter trends actually means anything:

  1. Research a few cities that are similar to the city you live in. An easy way to start is through the Sister Cities Directory.
  2. Focus your efforts in social media to build relationships with folks who live in those similar cities and see what happens, you might be surprised.

Please share your comments and opinions below. I appreciate hearing from you!