This article reinforces the view that social network structure can facilitate more influence than the quantity of followers/friends and that people need to hear new ideas multiple times before they catch on. A recommendation from a smaller, more-connected, network can be more valuable than one from Ashton Kutcher. One key finding is that members of middling status – having only a few social connections – bought more products based on friends' purchases. But users of influence made fewer purchases. In other words, influences value their uniqueness and often resist peer influence (in order to keep that uniqueness/influence).
It turns out that the way information spreads online is often more complicated than viral transmission, in which one person passes a link to, say, a YouTube video directly to another person. As with political topics, people often wait until a number of friends or trusted sources have promoted an idea before promulgating it themselves
The structure of a social network — for example, whether it is made up of close friends and colleagues or of like-minded strangers who follow Lady Gaga — can have more influence than the size of a group, researchers say.
…SO what does all this mean for you and me?
If we keep seeing the same links and catchphrases ricocheting around our social networks, it might mean we are being exposed only to what we want to hear, says Damon Centola, an assistant professor of economic sociology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
“You might say to yourself: ‘I am in a group where I am not getting any views other than the ones I agree with. I’m curious to know what else is out there,’” Professor Centola says.
Read the entire NYT Article
Some studies on this stuff can be found here, here, and here.
Do social networks affect the spread of behavior?
The Extent to Which Your Friends' Behavior Predicts Your Own
Why Facebook Beat Myspace
How is a group its own worst enemy?
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