Here at Tellagence we analyze a number of communities. Some are for our clients. Some are for friends or advisors. Some are just because we are curious. For a while now we have watched part of the start-up community on Twitter. Specifically we have been watching the TechStars community.
We started observing this community because an advisor to Tellagence was interested. Being a start-up, we are well aware of the TechStars programs so there was also personal interest.
This is the community as of a few weeks ago that was formed around TechStars. The dots represent individual Twitter accounts and the lines represent the relationships between each Twitter account. The Tellagence definition of relationships has nothing to do with followers. Rather, we look at engagements and interactions between two users. The dense population in the center is due to the high strength in relationships.
This network graph is just a way for us to visualize the community. What happens next is where it gets interesting. We can predict not only how far our user's messages will travel when they talk about TechStars, but also how the message will be shared from person to person. It is not enough to know who you push your message too. You need to know who will engage and consume that information. And that is exactly what we predict. You can see that when our user (black dot) speaks it ends up reaching a majority of the community (blue).
TechStars is an interesting community because over time their focus shifts slightly because of the different topics within their programs and the timing of those programs. A few months ago one of the main accounts driving activity was Microsoft Azure because of their program up in Seattle with TechStars. Now the community has shifted around Nike Fuel. This is because of the accelerator that is starting up here in Portland with Nike and TechStars. You can see that when our user speaks @Nikefuel consumes it and when @Nikefuel speaks their messages continue to travel to a large portion of the community.
The other obvious driver of conversation in this community is the @TechStars account. This makes a ton of sense because if you want to be in TechStars they are the source for information. What you see here are the people that actually consume and interact with their content.
These are fairly obvious but other people that you would intuitively think would be important but might not be. If you look at @DavidCohen he only has a limited amount of people that interact with his content on TechStars. This shifts over time but you can see the people that were dominating the community.
The industry loves to focus on people that are popular but the important thing to remember is that the individual relationships that these people form make up the community. It is about having the right relationships not necessarily the most. This plays out with our user. You can see our users direct relationships which are the larger blue circles. He has relationships that allow his content to spread through people like @NikeFuel and @TechStars to their relationships. This is the chain reactions that we must maximize to reach a community at scale through their existing trusted relationships.
So who is our user? Dylan Boyd (@dtboyd). Dylan is a long time advisor to Tellagence and he is also now the Managing Director of the Nike+ Accelerator powered by TechStars here in Portland. He is an interesting example of having the right set of strategic relationships can get your messages heard by the majority of the community without the need to directly build 100's or 1,000's of relationships.
Remember, community is about the collection of relationships people form around a subject. Individuals by themselves are not enough. You have to understand how the relationships work together to form this community so that you can focus your attention on the relationships that matter.