25 Jun 2012

Facebook - A World Of Mostly Followers?

Some interesting research is going around the net done by economists Sinan Aral and Dylan Walker. They used an app to track how 'peer influence' works online. You can read the story 'Who Controls Social Networks'?  Their paper on social contagion and viral marketing is here. 'Influence' and how it works is very interesting to anybody in politics and marketing.
This is what they found: "Reality seems to fall somewhere between influence and susceptibility. Both are important, but contagion depended on the personal traits of the people. For example, people older than 30 were more influential than those who are younger than 30, and people of the same age had the most influence on each other. Women tended to influence men more than they influenced each other. But most surprisingly, influence and susceptibility almost never occurred in the same person. At least in the Facebook network, there are only trendsetters and followers". This confirms what TTN knows about network hubs and vectors. We can make some predictions of our own from this work. If women influence men more than other women then is the converse true? Do men influence women more than other men? Seems likely. If people over 30 are more influential than younger people, then does that influence decline at some point? In other words do elderly people have less influence? Is there an age when people exert the maximum influence over others? Finally, the app these researchers used was only tracking peoples opinions about movies and not about issues that could effect their survival. We could see totally different results with a different data harvesting technique.

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