The purpose of this paper is to conceptualize the use of Twitter hashtag as a strategy to enhance the visibility and symbolic power of social movement-related information. It examined how characteristics of hashtag drove information virality during a networked social movement.
Twitter data from two days during the Occupy Wall Street Movement in 2011 were collected. With network analysis, the authors identified popular hashtag types and examined hashtag co-occurrence patterns during the two contrasting movement days. It also provides a comparative analysis of how major types of viral hashtag may play different roles depending on different movement cycles.
The authors found that the role of hashtag influencing information virality may vary based on the context of the tweets. For example, movement participants applied more strategic hashtag combinations during the unexpected event day to reach different social circles. Consistent patterns were identified in mobilizing influential actors such as public figures. Different use patterns of media outlet hashtag were found across the two days.
Implications on how hashtag type and event dynamics may shape hashtag co-occurrence patterns were discussed.
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