Management Information Systems Quarterly


Through the lens of social movement theory, this paper investigates the drivers of individual users’ social influence on Twitter during the Egyptian Revolution of 2011. Following this lens, we suggest an extended model of sustained social influence (that considers retweets as the measure of user influence) as a function of the duality of individual Twitter users’ social actions and the underlying facilitating Twitter network structure. Based on an analysis of organic large-scale Twitter data on this social movement, we examine how characteristics of individuals’ social actions, namely activity and tenure on Twitter, and characteristics facilitated by the network (i.e., the number of followers as well as centrality in the community structure of Twitter), impact retweet influence in time windows spanning the movement. Utilizing a mixed methods approach consisting of machine learning and human coding we conceptualize social movement-related engagement activities of Twitter users, which map to generic frames of social movement mobilization. The analysis reveals interesting patterns across different contexts of the Egyptian Revolution. Regarding individual social action, social movement related to “who” and “where” activities, as well as tenure, were found to contribute to individual social influence. In terms of the facilitating structure, the follower network (an observed network structure) and centrality (an unobserved network structure) were both found to contribute significantly to sustained influence.