Published on Thu Mar 06 2014

Real-Time Classification of Twitter Trends

Arkaitz Zubiaga, Damiano Spina, Raquel Martínez, Víctor Fresno

Social media users give rise to social trends as they share about common interests. In this work, we explore the types of triggers that spark trends on Twitter. We analyze and experiment with a set of straightforward language-independent features based on the social spread of trends.

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Abstract

Social media users give rise to social trends as they share about common interests, which can be triggered by different reasons. In this work, we explore the types of triggers that spark trends on Twitter, introducing a typology with following four types: 'news', 'ongoing events', 'memes', and 'commemoratives'. While previous research has analyzed trending topics in a long term, we look at the earliest tweets that produce a trend, with the aim of categorizing trends early on. This would allow to provide a filtered subset of trends to end users. We analyze and experiment with a set of straightforward language-independent features based on the social spread of trends to categorize them into the introduced typology. Our method provides an efficient way to accurately categorize trending topics without need of external data, enabling news organizations to discover breaking news in real-time, or to quickly identify viral memes that might enrich marketing decisions, among others. The analysis of social features also reveals patterns associated with each type of trend, such as tweets about ongoing events being shorter as many were likely sent from mobile devices, or memes having more retweets originating from a few trend-setters.

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