Predicting Twitter popularity is all about probability


Tweets have the power to decimate markets, but they also have users and companies seeing dollar signs. With huge marketing, political, and social mobilization potential, how can you predict which tweets will get more views, and which retweets will go viral? A new study developed a statistical model that attempts to estimate the popularity of tweets, and thus how memes spread.

Starting with 52 “root” tweets from users both famous and obscure, the researchers first analyzed the dynamics of retweeting, like the speed and spread of a tweet from a user to followers and then their followers. The researchers, from the University of Washington, MIT, and Penn, used the Twitter API to collect all the retweet information and found that most retweets occurred within one hour of the original tweet. Not surprisingly, they also found that root tweets are retweeted more than the retweets themselves.

They then plugged the important…

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