Defining and measuring influence are two of the Holy Grails of social media measurement. Here is an exciting new study that uses whether or not someone installs a Facebook app to study Facebook influence. This method of research avoids getting bogged down in the whole "what is influence?" question: Rather than trying to figure out what influence is, just define it as a particular behavior, then study that behavior. Who knows how generalizable it is, but it's a great way to make progress in social media.
Sinan Aral and Dylan Walker of NYU employed a specially designed Facebook app to trace how influential 1.3 million Facebook users are. The app sends messages to a random selection of friends of its users, inviting them to also install the app. By recording who installs the app relative to who appears to have sent the invitation, the researchers tracked the influence and susceptibility of the app users. Read more here:
“The important contribution of our method,” explains Aral, “is that it avoids known biases in current methods such as homophily bias. Homophily means that we tend to make friends with people like ourselves. For example, if two friends adopt a product or behavior one after the other, current methods have a hard time distinguishing whether it is because of peer influence or if the friends simply have similar preferences and thus behave similarly.”
- Men are more influential than women
- Women influence men more than they influence other women
- Older people (30+ years) are more influential and less susceptible to influence than younger people
- Married people are the least susceptible to influence in the decision to adopt the product they studied
- Influence and susceptibility trade off, meaning people who were more influential tended not to be susceptible to influence and people who were susceptible tended not to be influential
- Some people are clearly more influential than others and are themselves connected to other highly influential people, giving them the potential to be ‘super-spreaders’
-- Bill Paarlberg, Editor
--Bill Paarlberg is editor of The Measurement Standard blog and newsletter, and of Katie Paine's book “Measure What Matters.” He is also editor of the book “Measuring the Networked Nonprofit,” by Beth Kanter and Katie Paine, which will be published this year by Wiley.
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The Measurement Standard is a publication of KDPaine & Partners, a company that delivers custom research to measure brand image, public relationships, and engagement. Katie Paine, CEO of KDPaine & Partners, will be glad to talk with you about measurement for your organization.