Standing out in a networked communication context: Toward a network contingency model of public attention

Aimei Yang, Adam J. Saffer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

Social media can offer strategic communicators cost-effective opportunities to reach millions of individuals. However, in practice it can be difficult to be heard in these crowded digital spaces. This study takes a strategic network perspective and draws from recent research in network science to propose the network contingency model of public attention. This model argues that in the networked social-mediated environment, an organization’s ability to attract public attention on social media is contingent on its ability to fit its network position with the network structure of the communication context. To test the model, we combine data mining, social network analysis, and machine-learning techniques to analyze a large-scale Twitter discussion network. The results of our analysis of Twitter discussion around the refugee crisis in 2016 suggest that in high core-periphery network contexts, “star” positions were most influential whereas in low core-periphery network contexts, a “community” strategy is crucial to attracting public attention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalNew Media and Society
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2020
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Big data
  • core-periphery structure
  • public attention
  • social network analysis

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