The impact of influential leaders in the formation and development of social networks
This study investigates the communication patterns and network structure of influential opinion leaders on Twitter during the 2011 Seoul mayoral elections. Among the two candidates, we focus on the usage pattern of Wonsoon Park, who actively used Twitter during the election campaign. We analyzed the network structure of candidate Park and his 15 Twitter mentors during the election period (September 26, 2011 - October 26, 2011). The gathered data consists of 19,227 tweets from 8,547 users who were responded to by one of the 17 selected opinion leaders through mentions (@) or retweets (RT). To find the authorities and hubs, which play a crucial role in information propagation, the HITS algorithm was used to quantify the influence exerted by the opinion leaders. In addition, social network triads were used to identify the communication patterns between individual users on Twitter. Results of the analysis showed that the structure of the communication patterns in Twitter were mostly fragmented rather than transitive. This signified that communication occurred from, or converged to, a single node, rather than circulating through multiple nodes during the election period. The majority of the network structures were fragmented, or one-way conversations. In other words, communication happened in the form of aggregation and propagation, rather than sharing and circulating various ideas.