Reporters, bloggers and other media trying to boost their Twitter presence can learn a few tips from an unexpected discipline: electrical engineering.
Roja Bandari, a Ph.D. candidate in electrical engineering at UCLA, developed an algorithm that predicts with 84 percent accuracy whether a news article will be popular on Twitter or bomb on the social media site.
Bandari came up with the algorithm with two Hewlett Packard Lab researchers while she was working at HP as an intern. She shared the paper in June at the 2012 International Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence Conference on Weblogs and Social Media.
Using artificial intelligence methods, the trio examined millions of tweets linking to more than 40,000 news articles. More than four-fifths of the time, if the algorithm flags the article as “popular,” more than 100 tweets will later link to it. A “medium tweet” article will still see a healthy 20-100 tweets, while unpopular articles can expect less than 20.
Bandari was already interested in examining how news items go viral from previous research she did at UCLA with Professor Vwani Roychowdhury, whose lab she still works in. In 2010, they examined how information propagated on Twitter during the 2009 election protests in Iran.