Who Controls Social Networks?

Article: Bohannon, J. (2012). “Who Controls Social Networks?” sciencemag.org. Visited on Oct 9, 2012:http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2012/06/who-controls-social-networks.html

This article is about how ideas spread in social groups through peer influence. A theory long debated is that a small number of people who are influencers spread ideas through their peer groups. Critics of the theory argue that is it not how much influence these people have but how susceptible to the new idea people are. The study of peer influence has proven difficult to conduct, but the rise of social networks such as Facebook provide a means for researchers to study a large number of people. One study in the article found that on Facebook there was a clear divide between influencers and those that were susceptible to new ideas.

Conceptually, it’s important for any product developer to understand who their product’s influencers are if they wish their product to spread through peer influence. The article suggests that the personality traits of people affect influence.

Examples: Women influence men more than women. People over 30 were more influential than those under 30.

The article states that the most important finding is that Influencers and those who are susceptible are not traits found within the same person. The article mentions that further study needs to be done. It is hard to draw significant conclusions from one study that did not seem to answer the question of whether a small number of people spread ideas in peer groups. Product developers should look to target influencers or plant influencers in the market place to spread adoption of their product.