Monthly Archives: February 2014

Is a small world getting even smaller?

In 1967 Stanley Milgram, an American social psychologist, conducted a series of experiments to study the nature of “small world” – a phenomenon produced by the overlap of personal social networks. For instance, he tried to find out the average path length for social networks of people in the US. He sent out 160 packages to randomly selected individuals in Kansas and asked them to deliver the package to a person living in Boston, Massachusetts. Since the senders didn’t know the package recipient personally, they were allowed to forward the package to somebody they knew on a first-name basis and who were likely to know the final recipient. The first package reached the recipient in Boston via only two people. However, on average the delivery chain consisted of 5 people. That’s how the theory of “6 degrees of separation” appeared. It suggests that anyone is 6 or fewer steps away from any other person in the world.

One possible path of a message in the “Small World” experiment by Stanley Milgram in 1967. Image credits: Ageev Andrew

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Lost in translation

This week I would like to share with you some thoughts about the behavior of people in online social networks inspired by the discussion in our COMM506 wiki. As we know, language serves as one of the factors that make people feel that they belong to one group. It is an important factor that fosters the development of social networks based on the homophily principle, networks that can be characterized by dense ties between its members.

When we register on any social networking site, as a first step we usually connect with our friends and relatives, i.e. members of our small network with dense ties. Eventually, our online network grows and we connect with people we work with, as well as meet in different situations (professional conference participants, suppliers, etc.). Taking into consideration the effects of globalization, we can suppose that these people can speak different languages and belong to different cultures. Sometimes we also start to follow well-known people that are of interest to us (scholars, celebrities, political figures, etc.), but in general we do not have a reciprocal relationship with them.

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How to make your C-Suite go social?

c-suite

Developing digital presence of C-Suites is crucial for company’s image. Employers are on social networks, business partners and customers are on social networks, and what is even more important – competitors are on social networks. However, less than 1/3 of top CEO’s are on social media (source: Forbes).

Companies where CEOs are present in social media and use it to connect with all the shareholders are more successful in many ways than those who don’t. According to the 2013 BRANDfog report, “innovative C-Suite and senior executives are at the forefront of social engagement, utilizing social media to attract new talent, deepen brand loyalty, increase purchase intent, and establish brand transparency.” At the same time, in general CEOs are often reluctant to join social media because of potential risks and unwillingness to adapt to greater transparency and changes. So how can we motivate C-suites to participate?

Kadushin, one of the most renowned social networks analysts, mentions that “keeping up with the Joneses”, i.e. motivation to compare oneself with others in the same network, is one of the fundamental aspects of social networks. We can suppose that this motivation is stronger for those network members who have already achieved a lot (like CEOs). So, if we give our C-suites a person to keep up with, maybe they will go social just for the sake of this competition?

Klout score can be used as a simple tool to measure C-suites presence on social media. In addition to it, Klout will allow them to keep track of “the Joneses”’ success. The only problem is to find the “Joneses”. i.e. a right person to compete with (this should be definitely another CEO that they are aware of and who has a strong presence in social media).

How do you think, will this work? What are your ideas?

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How social networks theory led to changes in personal skills development trainings

Disclaimer:

This is the first of many posts you will find here in the upcoming weeks. Mostly I will post here my thoughts and findings related to the topics that are central for my studies of digital media and social networks. However, I reserve the right to write here about my travels and other interesting things as well. All the blog posts will be tagged accordingly, so if you are interested in my posts about social networks only, please feel free to use tags or navigation panel in the right column to filter the posts.

tippingpoint
photo credit: jgarber via photopin cc

This week in class we explored the psychological foundations of social networks. It is important to understand that human social networks ≠ online social networks. The first is a global phenomenon that could be observed even in hunter-gatherer societies; the latter is a specific manifestation of the social networks’ phenomenon that allows us to study human behavior in groups and societies on a whole new level. Online social networks allow researchers to find and visualize the hidden links between people in society and analyze the relations between networks’ members in an unbiased way, based on the digital data provided by platforms.

Social networks have a lot of amazing features and influence our lives in many unexpected ways. Do you know, for example, that your social network (that is, all the people you know and is connected with) is to blame if you are unhappy or have weight problems? On the other hand, without social networks (specifically the networks that are characterized by weak ties and structural holes), there would be no disruptive innovations, as they emerge mainly when people of different backgrounds meet.

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