Social Issue Networks and Film Festivals: Issue Advocates
We’ll begin our multi-part analysis of social networks from the perspective of an issue advocate asking the following questions:Who is talking about my issue online? Do these individuals cluster around specific topics? How do the various issue networks compare in size and structure? Which, if any, are connected to (or likely to be influenced by) film festivals?For issue advocates, there are a number of advantages to understanding the landscape of online conversations about their issue. These include developing a more nuanced understanding of how specific topics within a social issue are being discussed, by whom, and in what volumes.To start, let’s put ourselves in the shoes of a human rights advocate interested in knowing more about their cohort. Figure 1 shows the total number of Twitter accounts and the proportion of “influencer” accounts active in this field (for a refresher on our methods, refer to previous posts on “Building and Analyzing Issue-Focused Social Networks on Twitter” and “Social Issue Networks and Film Festivals: Our Method.”
In mapping this network, five distinct, issue-specific groups emerge: Liberal/Labor Rights, Global Human Rights, LGBT/Immigrant Rights, African American Social Justice, and Women’s Rights. The fact that the Liberal group is associated with Labor Rights reflects that accounts active around Labor Rights topics are those closely connected with liberal-leaning accounts. Whether this also indicates that Labor Rights is the most talked about issue among influencers in the Liberal group requires further research. Regardless, the high influencer count (accounts that tend to have high within-group and within-network followings) shows that a significant number of nodes within the Liberal/Labor Rights group follow each other and likely spread each other’s messages to their audiences.We can further characterize the nature and volume of conversation within the Human Rights network by looking across all of its sub-groups (groups within groups).
Even though Liberal groups dominate the field by having the highest number of associated accounts, they are closely followed by the International Human Rights, Reproductive Justice, and African American Human Rights sub-groups. On the other hand, there are far fewer accounts linked to Human Trafficking and Refugees subject areas. This could be because public interest in the Syrian refugee crisis has recently peaked in the U.S. and could still be building an influencer audience.We must also keep in mind the influencer to non-influencer ratio to identify highly interconnected groups. A group with a high number of influencers means there are a significant number of accounts that reach across their group. In other words, a influencer-heavy group comprises of a wide range of opinions and voices promoting diverse topics and schools of thought. The Liberal Blogs and Liberal Political News groups may have a high number of accounts, but they have a low number of influencers compared to significantly smaller groups like Immigration Family Detection, Philanthropy Nonprofit and Gender Equality Feminism. This could mean that only a small number of accounts’ views get shared among those accounts, which could lower the diversity of the conversation. It may be easier for an issue advocate to enter a conversation with many influential voices, like Immigration Family Detection and Gender Equality Feminism, as there is a greater likelihood of someone within the group being receptive to their message.Now that we know the layout of the Twitter conversation surrounding Human Rights issues, let’s see if there are issue groups that are highly engaged with film festivals. Figure 3 counts the total number of festival-influencer followers within each sub-group, meaning the total number of times an account follows a festival in our dataset, across all sub-group accounts. This allows us to learn how film festivals as a whole have reached these Human Rights issue groups.
Here we see some interesting changes to the rankings. For example, Gender Equality Feminism has a below-average number of Twitter accounts within the Human Rights network, but the fourth highest number of connections between film festivals and sub-group accounts. This is also the case for the Latinos Immigration group, which has the 11th largest sub-group, but ranks fifth for connections between film festivals and sub-groups.But what are the festivals that resonate the most with top sub-groups in Figure 3? We illustrate festival follower breakdowns of four sub-groups (AfAm Social Justice 2, LGBT Equal Rights 1, Intl Human Rights, Gender Equality Feminism) in Figure 4. We’ve combined both influencer and non-influencer followers for this section to gauge general group interest.
While Sundance, Tribeca and SXSW dominate across all four issue areas, other, smaller festivals have the greatest number of followers within three of the four sub-groups. The Athena Film Festival is the most popular festival within the Gender Equality Feminism sub-group; the Human Rights Film Festival among the International Human Rights community; and Frameline Film Festival with the LGBT community. Let’s see what the breakdowns look like for other sub-issues.
Similar to Figure 4, Figure 5 shows that Tribeca, Sundance, and SXSW are well-followed across the sub-groups (Tribeca and Sundance are prominent within all eight issue groups; SXSW within six of them.) These well-known festivals clearly have reach among issue experts in the Human Rights network, but it’s worth noting that they are not necessarily the most influential across the sub-groups—in four cases, they are eclipsed by other festivals’ followers.Our analysis shows how the Human Rights conversation is currently structured on Twitter, as well as which issue groups support film festivals. This insight can help issue advocates see which festivals have the most significant reach into their issue, as well as consider attending those festivals to network with enthusiastic influencers and filmmakers who are promoting their social issue. Our next analysis will focus on film festival accounts themselves, where we’ll consider individual festivals’ reach within and across various issue areas. To read the rest of our “Social Issue Networks and Film Festivals” series, visit: