Below are three interesting research articles that focus on “influence” within social networks:
Determining Influential Users in Internet Social Networks The study proposes a model for determining weak friend links from strong friend links within social networks. This is important because strong links indicate who is an influencer within a network.
Spontaneous emergence of social influence in online systems This study, reported in 2010 by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, analyzes the popularity of games within Facebook. By analyzing 100 million application installations, the researches found that once games crossed a break point threshold with respect to popularity with individual users, social influence directly affected overall popularity of a game. And games that did not experience this “social influence effect” essentially disappeared from the online community environment at rates far higher than would otherwise occur in an offline environment. This is important for two factors: (1) here’s an interesting case-study as to how Facebook makes its (“our”?) data available to analyze that wily creature home sapiens, (2) when launching a new product/service within a social network, it behooves a brand to focus on strong influencers (see study above) in terms of product development and outreach.
Seeding Strategies for Viral Marketing: An Empirical Comparison In this study, the authors found that effective viral campaigns within social networks are dependent on hubs (subnetworks of “strong” influencers) and bridges (pathways between “strong” subnetworks). This is important because by targeting hubs, and nurturing activity within these hubs, brands have an opportunity to exert some control over social influence. Of course, this puts pressure on brands to ensure that their product/service is excellent, incorporates elements that appeal to their targeted hubs, etc. If the product/service fails in this regard, it will suffer (see second article above).