Posted by : Amitha Amarasinghe Thursday, July 22, 2010

murali takes 800

It was a historic day for Sri Lankan cricket as the veteran off spinner Muttiah Muralitharan reached his 800th wicket in test cricket, most ironically with the last ball he delivered in a test cricket match. Can you expect a more dramatic retirement for a legend like Murali?

Sri Lankan Twitter community gathered around the hash tag #murali ever since last evening, and tweeted to each other about their feelings of the retiring cricket maestro. At one point, someone pointed “Murali” is trending on Twitter! So, we thought this is the best way, we; the Sri Lankan Tweeps can pay tribute to the greatest ever cricketer, the world has ever seen after, Don Bradman.

The idea spread like a virus, and one after another, Sri Lankan Tweeps started tweeting #murali. @Latek educated the others about how Twitter Trending topics works. We personal messaged our followers all over the world, to join in the “#murali” party, and make it a worldwide trending topic, to pay tribute to our hero. We realized, if we get more #murali tweets from different locations around the world, more likely it was to reach the top 10 of trending topics.

Today, the virus spread across Palk Strait to India, and our Indian fellow Tweeps joined into to tweet about “Murali”. Added to this, were the natural tweets coming in from all cricket fans from England, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa; all of a sudden we got it on the top 10 trending topics on Twitter.

When Murali took Ojha’s wicket to claim his 800th wicket in test cricket, everybody started congratulating #murali and there came the news tweets from various news agencies on Twitter, who wanted to break the news of Murali’s achievement.

Fun thing to know is, Americans who never give a damn about cricket are the ones who dominate all of Twitter. Nevertheless, with a carefully coordinated attack from this small region in the Indian Ocean, we managed to create a Twitter trending topic, at least for few hours!

Thank you Murali! This is a tribute from all Twitter users from Sri Lanka, for your wonderful achievement.

Learning Points

Twitter trending topics are created mainly based on two variables; 1) Frequency and 2) Spread. Frequency is the number of times the target word is appearing on Twitter feeds within s specific period (within an hour etc). Spread, is the number of people mentioning the word. As per my observation on “murali”, what is more important is the spread. For example, a same set of 100 or 200 people tweeting the same thing over and over again, will not create an immediate trending topic on Twitter. That will have an impact in the initial take-off, but for it to reach the top 10 you need more and more people jumping into the bandwagon. This is why, “murali” remained at around rank 20 for a long time, and suddenly reached the #1 when more new people started to tweet about “murali”. This shows, how impractical it is to create trending topics for commercial purpose.

The lesson for Twitter, is that they can make Twitter a more globalized social network, by allowing topics like “murali” to trend quite often. So far, Twitter remains to be mainly an American property. That’s why we always see what Americans like on trending topics.

The fact that Twitter predominantly is an American social network, and there are too few Sri Lankans and Cricket lovers on Twitter make our achievement to make “murali” a trending topic on Twitter, more significant. After all, we used to follow the trends set by Americans on Twitter. This time we set a trend by ourselves and set few Americans wondering “WTH is this Murali?”

So, watch out Justin Bieber! We can also trend ;-)

Some Contributors to the Trend


UPDATE: I may have missed few important names here, but some of them are added now in the comments section :-) If you remembers more Tweeps, pls add as a comment below.

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