U. WASHINGTON-SEATTLE (US) — Common wisdom might suggest a posse of political blogs triggers a video’s potential to get viewed by millions, but new research shows just two elite blogs influence a video’s virality.
Huffington Post and Daily Kos are often the first to trigger distribution of particularly interesting videos. Top general blogs, such as TechCrunch, Laughing Squid, or blogs associated with major publications, like Wired or The New York Times, then post the videos, and from there, they often go viral.
“In the blogosphere, elite and top general-interest blogs set the political agenda, frame the arguments, and drive the viral process. The other political blogs then take their cues, looping the information farther outward,” says Karine Nahon, an associate professor at the University of Washington. Her team’s paper will be published in the journal Policy & Internet.
The team gathered data on 9,765 blogs linking to the 65 political videos that received the most exposure during the 2008 presidential election. In eyeball counts, the top three videos from March 2007 to June 2009 were “Yes We Can,” “Crush on Obama,” and “McCain’s YouTube Problem Just Became a Nightmare.”
The researchers delineated four groups:
- Elite blogs: Those that had the highest percentage of blog posts linking to the top political videos. The Huffington Post linked to 98 percent of the top videos, and the Daily Kos, to 75 percent. These two blogs consistently posted ahead of other political blogs.
- Top general blogs: These had more than 250,000 unique visitors from March 2007 to June 2009.
- Top political blogs: Until now, most researchers have looked at political blogs as one group. Nahon’s team found that Huffington Post and the Daily Kos were outliers, and therefore constituted their own elite group. Other top political blogs, such as Talking Points Memo and American Thinker, then became a group.
- Tail blogs: They included all other blogs that linked to the viral videos but lacked the authority that comes with high viewer counts. Such blogs prolong interest in a video.
“Tail and top political blogs serve as followers,” the researchers write in their paper. “They are far less influential than previously thought. . . . And though there are thousands of tail blogs,” the researchers add, “they are not powerful enough to create or sustain the viral process alone.” Rather, they prolong interest.
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