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Tuesday, July 28 • 14:46 - 16:15
"Movember: Twitter Conversations in a Hairy Social Movement"

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Authors: Jenna Jacobson and Christopher Mascaro

Movember is an annual “month-long celebration of the moustache” where men grow a moustache and raise money for prostate cancer and men’s health in the largest philanthropic endeavour for men’s health. Movember is predominantly an online campaign, and, consequently, participants have actively embraced social media; this is evidenced in the 1,879,994 tweets archived during Movember 2012 in this research project. 

This paper presents the first quantitative analysis of Movember, which uncovers a syntactical feature overview, an in-depth conversational analysis, and a top-level domain analysis of the shared URLs in order to develop a nuanced understanding of how people are utilizing social media as part of this social movement. 

While Movember has been successful in gaining traction on social media, the Twitter data points to surprising conclusions that have implications for understanding non-profits and social movements online: 1) there is limited true conversation taking place, and 2) participants are more engaged with Movember as a branded movement, than engaged in health promotion. 

Objective: 
Based on the dearth of scholarly research on Movember, our research has a two-fold goal: firstly, develop a foundational understanding of Movember in order to develop both a base and in-depth understanding, and secondly, provide a methodological contribution about how a social movement can be analyzed on Twitter in order to provide nuanced insight about the movement. Since Movember is about having conversations about men’s health, we focus on tweets that are conversational in nature. These are conceptualized as at-reply tweets (those that begin with @[username]). 

1. What do the syntactical features used by participants identify about individual use of social media to discuss Movember? 
2. What are the conversational networks that are constructed as a result of the activity within Twitter? 
3. What type of information is shared via URLs in conversational activity surrounding Movember? 


Methods: 
The data were collected using the TwitterZombie infrastructure (Black et al., 2012). The set of 13 queries (see Table 1) were added to the collection system on the morning of October 31st and were collected at an interval of once every minute throughout the month of November. The Twitter timelines were also collected for the seven official Movember Twitter accounts. The data were collected from October 31-December 1, 2012 to gather data from the day before Movember started and the day after it finished. 

Results: 
The paper makes three contributions to the literature. First, the distribution of syntactical features and the temporal frequency of tweets represent unique activity that illustrates Movember as a social movement. Second, the URLs that are shared represent a variety of URLs, but are mostly focused on user-generated content and other information hosted on the Movember website. There is little information shared about Movember as a cause or men’s health more broadly. Third, there is limited actual conversation occurring on Twitter and the individuals that used the at-reply feature to initiate conversations rarely received a response. 

While Movember has been successful in gaining traction on social media, the Twitter data points to surprising conclusions that have implications for understanding non-profits and social movements online: 1) there is limited true conversation taking place, and 2) participants are more engaged with Movember as a branded movement, than engaged in health promotion. The combination of these approaches helps build an understanding of how people are utilizing social media as part of this social movement. 

Future Work: 
This research contributes to the scholarly discourse surrounding Twitter both methodologically and theoretically. The analysis illustrates how social media can be utilized to trace the conversations of a digitally mediated social movement. 

At the 2015 Social Media and Society Conference, we will also introduce preliminary findings of the longitudinal analysis of Twitter activity on Movember. 

References: 
Black, A, Mascaro, C., Gallagher, M, & Goggins, S. P. (2012). Twitter Zombie: Architecture for Capturing, Socially Transforming and Analyzing the Twittersphere. In Proceedings of the 17th ACM International Conference on Supporting Group Work, 229-238.

Speakers
avatar for Jenna Jacobson

Jenna Jacobson

University Of Toronto
@jacobsonjenna


Tuesday July 28, 2015 14:46 - 16:15
(7th Floor) Room TRS1-109 (Ted Rogers School of Management) 55 Dundas St West, Toronto, ON M5G 2C3

Attendees (12)