May 14, 2015 – Chris A. Bail, Assistant Professor of Sociology at Duke University, presented his talk, “The Rhythm of Communicative Styles: How Advocacy Organizations Win Support from Social Media Bystanders.” Unfortunately, we do not have a video of this seminar available, but we hope to give you a quick recap of the seminar. Following a summary, we will also provide some links to Professor Bail’s paper for further reading.
Professor Bail’s seminar is our first one focused on social media mining. Bail presents his research of online behavior and the way information travels within and beyond social media advocacy fields. His typology of communicative styles include cognitive, emotional, and social styles. In online behavior, he makes three key findings. They are: (1) Posts that provoke conversations with cognitive, emotional, or social communications will be more likely to inspire public approval; (2) These communicative styles are not mutually reinforcing, but rather they ebb and flow; and (3) An organization’s difference in style based on the communicative ebb and flow of the social media advocacy field can result in better virality.
In Professor Bail’s data mining toolkit includes mining Facebook for information of online user activity. Using automated content analysis, he was able to determine percentage of words in all Facebook comments on social media organization’s pages and classify the texts based on “cognitive,” “emotional,” or “social” categories. He then mapped these comments across time and demonstrated a pattern of ebb and flow across the communicative styles.
Professor Bail’s research shows a unique way of harnessing the power of text mining and machine learning methods to make informative descriptions of social phenomenons. If you would like to check out more of work, hop over to his website. If you would like to read more of Professor Bail’s work, we recommend starting out with his Theory and Society article, “The Cultural Environment,” or American Sociological Review article, “The Fringe Effect.” (Please note: You will need access or subscription to the journals to read the articles.)