Social Network Analysis

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Soci al Net wor k
Anal ysi s
© 2012 4imprint, Inc. All rights reserved
Soci al network anal ysi s: Defi ni ng connecti ons,
rel ati onshi ps and i nterests for greater
marketi ng success
Though still in its relative infancy, social network analysis can hold great potential
for marketers who wish to better target specific audiences with particular
interests through marketing—both on- and off-line. Imagine, if you own a shoe
store, being able to find the customers who are interested in high-end shoes
by mining the data on your social network, then customizing your marketing
efforts to bring them in for a trunk show. Imagine knowing which customers
are fans of a specific young Hollywood starlet, and attracting them to your store
for her newly-launched clothing line. Or imagine knowing which customers are
most interested in organic products and social justice, and being able to invite
them in personally for a new organic and fair trade skin care line. Such
targeted marketing holds tremendous potential for both you and your
customers. When you have invested your time in building a social
network, the information is there, online, ready for you to mine.
But what is social network analysis? Simply put, social network
analysis is the examination of relationships between people, their
interests and any entities.
Also known as SNA, social network
analysis is a school of thought that says it’s possible to visualize
people and their connections to enable us to identify how to best
share information with them. The process is made infinitely more
possible as a result of widespread use of the Internet and the
wealth of information individuals share with the public through
online social networks and other Web-based activities. The end result: When
marketers share information in a way that’s most appropriate for their target
audience, conceivably, they will experience a greater return on investment.
For marketers and businesses who have already tapped the power of the Internet,
creating fan pages, Google+ accounts or Twitter feeds to gain a following,
followers and fans of your business are already creating a wealth of information
available for mining. Social network analysis may be the next logical step in
identifying data your customers and potential customers have made public
through their digital footprints. But how?
1 “What Is Social Network Analysis?” Analytic Technologies. Web. 30 Dec. 2011. <
© 2012 4imprint, Inc. All rights reserved
Getti ng started: the soci al graph
Search “Social Network Analysis” online and you’ll find a treasure trove of
information on the topic, much of it is steeped in tech or social science jargon,
and difficult for the average person to distill to a useable level of application
for their individual needs. Not many marketers are social scientists. Let’s simplify
the theory by offering basic information that can be applied at the business
marketing level.
Essential tools in social network marketing are the social graph and the
overlapping interest graph.
First, let’s look into the social graph: what it is, what it will tell you and how it is
being used today.
Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook™, is widely credited with coining
the phrase in online blogs and articles. Yet the term has existed for years in social
anthropology, computer programming and even marketing circles. According to
The International Network for Social Network Analysis (INSNA), social network
analysis has been around for decades, a sentiment echoed by Eric Schmidt of
Google™. “We have address books, and the sum of the address books is the social
graph,” Schmidt says.
Companies which work to synchronize address books,
including Google, strive to turn them into functional social graphs that can offer
valuable information and provide services to users.
2 “Internet Companies: Social Graph-iti | The Economist.” The Economist - World News, Politics, Economics,
Business & Finance. 18 Oct. 2007. Web. 30 Dec. 2011. <>.
© 2012 4imprint, Inc. All rights reserved
Regardless of who coined the phrase, for his part, Zuckerberg credits the social
graph with making Facebook work.
He explains, “As Facebook adds more and
more people with more and more connections it continues growing and becomes
more useful at a faster rate. We are going to use it to spread information through
the social graph.” The result of the social graph is that groups and applications on
Facebook can grow their following easily. For application developers, whereas in
the past they would have had to build their social graph from scratch, Zuckerberg
says Facebook has made it possible to tap in to the base of knowledge already
there, building applications on top of the social graph already existing inside the
platform. Zuckerberg created a stir when he spoke about the topic, back when
Facebook was just being released to the general public. If there was any question
at the time about the potential for Facebook, and the value of social graphing to
application developers and businesses, that doubt has surely long since dissipated.
In the example you see here, your contacts, friends and acquaintances would be
contained within the social section of the graph below.
At its core, social and interest graphing enables marketers to define the
relationships between the people in their online circles, as well as their interests,
including politics, news, religion, hobbies and industry. Among social network
sites that currently exist, there are presently two overarching models of social
graphing implementations.
The Lead, Follow, Mutual Model is used by sites such as Twitter™, Google+ and
Digg™. It is a flexible and generic model of social graphing, which allows one
person to have a relationship with another, without the other person connecting
in return. It is especially useful and valued by individuals with great popularity
who don’t necessarily want to follow everyone who follows them.
3 Farber, Dan. “Facebook’s Zuckerberg Uncorks the Social Graph | ZDNet.” Technology News, Analysis, Comments
and Product Reviews for IT Professionals | ZDNet. 24 May 2007. Web. 30 Dec. 2011. <
© 2012 4imprint, Inc. All rights reserved
The Enforced Mutual Friend Model is much more specific and rigid, and is used
by sites such as Facebook. It means that in order to be connected with someone
through the platform, that person has to be willing to connect with you.
INSNA explains that to understand SNA, it may be helpful to imagine an ant hill.
From the human perspective, it is easy to see the social interactions, patterns
and relationships between the ants as they relate to the whole. INSNA reports
that “Network analysis is based on the intuitive notion that these patterns are
important features of the lives of the individuals who display them. Network
analysts believe that how an individual lives depends in large part on how that
individual is tied into the larger Web of social connections.”
Now that you
understand the definition of the social graph, let’s look at the interest graph.
I ntersecti ng wi th the i nterest graph
Unlike the social graph, the interest graph connects people who don’t necessarily
know one another, based on their shared interests alone. However, there can and
likely will be some overlap. For example, while the interest graph may connect a
consumer with a large group of people who share an interest in fencing, because
of his or her involvement in a local fencing class, that individual may also be
connected online with members of that class who share that interest. In a sense,
the interest graph can help shape your social graph. While Facebook is widely
recognized as a leader in social graphing, Twitter is recognized as being a leader
in development of the interest graph.
Some experts anticipate that because
4 “Social Graphing Models Used in the Social Networks | Rastin Mehr.” Rastin Mehr | We Are Nodes, Connected
with Graphs, Exchanging Stories. 19 Jan. 2009. Web. 30 Dec. 2011. <
5 Freeman, Linn. “INSNA - What Is Social Network Analysis?” International Network for Social Network Analysis.
08 Feb. 2008. Web. 30 Dec. 2011. <>.
6 Kline, Spenser. “Emerging Social Media and the Interest Graph.” The Social Media Maven. 29 Nov. 2010. Web.
© 2012 4imprint, Inc. All rights reserved
this niche is largely underdeveloped in comparison with social network sites that
utilize a social graph, the Web will see an influx of sites utilizing the interest
graph model for specific interest niches.
Interest graphs are generated by the things users like. That includes the feeds
customers follow, products they purchase, ratings and reviews they leave online,
items they search for online, and more.
Individuals in your business-related social network may be part of the network
due to shared interests. In essence if you own a dance company, your social
media connections would have your business within their interest graph, while
you would have them within your social graph and/or interest graph. It’s enough
to make a marketer’s head spin, but the bottom line is this: The interest graph
is an important tool for your brand, because it can introduce you to individuals
who are not yet within your social graph, enabling
you to bring them in through strategic marketing.
Likewise, as interest graphs are underutilized
on many social media sites, you may have the
opportunity to pioneer an interest category
that currently does not exist, developing a social
network within that interest—and potentially
building your consumer community. For example,
owners of a business-to-business company could
create a group on popular social networking site
LinkedIn (, an interest group for
a topic related to your business. By creating such a
group, you will attract members with that shared interest, and would in turn have
the ability to tap the information they have available to better market to them.

Now that you have an understanding of these interconnected graphs, let’s
examine how marketers can build and leverage their social and interest graphs
for improved target marketing and greater outcomes.
Let’s get graphi c
When your organization has decided to embrace social graphing, you’ve made
a commitment to invest time in identifying your customers and their extended
trusted networks. Social graphs are a familiar concept to most marketers, who
know the value of trusted referrals; research shows 90% of consumers trust the
30 Dec. 2011. <>.
7 Rogers, David. “The Future of the Social Web: Social Graphs Vs. Interest Graphs.” ReadWriteWeb - Web Apps,
Web Technology Trends, Social Networking and Social Media. 30 Sept. 2011. Web. 30 Dec. 2011. <http://www.>.
© 2012 4imprint, Inc. All rights reserved
recommendations given to them by their friends, yet only 14% of the
public trusts ads.
To make the job easier, you might consider employing social network analysis
software or freeware, as the scope of mining through your network person-by-
person and mapping their interests individually can be incredibly time
consuming, not to mention overwhelming. That’s not to say it can’t be
done with pen, paper and a good measure of tenacity, but that you
may find better use for your time. Social network analysis software
can do both big-picture and small-picture level work for you, both
examining national-level networks and even breaking down your
network according to age, sex, income and other individual attributes.
The software can then map out the data, depending on the program,
offering you a graphical representation of your network. Higher-level
programs can sometimes also offer predictive analysis—enabling you
to make an educated guess about your network’s emerging attributes,
such as predicted future income.
Whether you try to develop the graph on your own, or with the help of software
or freeware, in beginning to develop a company’s social graph, experts say
the key is to identify your brand’s best influencers. Keep in mind that the best
influencers related to a brand:
1. Aren’t necessarily industry pundits or broadcasters who tend to
influence trends on a large scale.
2. Are not “potential influencers.” Some companies will get tangled in
the perceived value of these individuals, targeting them with one-
size-fits-all referral reward programs.
3. Are made up of what some experts call “mass connectors” or “mass
mavens.” These individuals are fans of the brand who influence
their trusted networks through the use of social media. By some
accounts, mass connectors or mass mavens make up about 28
million consumers in the United States, and generate an estimated
500 billion impressions per year. Now, that’s a lot of influence!
By identifying and leveraging this information, businesses can provide
personalized experiences and offers to their brand’s main influencers, so they may
share that information with their networks. It can also eventually lead to building
your new customer base, increasing “likes” and follows and ultimately
boosting sales.
8 Klaus, Brad. “How to Build - and Leverage - Your Brand’s Social Graph.” 24 May 2011. Web. 30 Dec.
2011. <–-and-leverage-–-your-brands-social-graph/>.
9 Ibid.
© 2012 4imprint, Inc. All rights reserved
Who are your brand’s key influencers, and when you know who they are, how do
you leverage them? By determining each of your followers’ social influence, you
can drive more intelligent target marketing, according to contextualmarketing.
com. By analyzing social networks, businesses can create a social graph of every
consumer based on their profiles: who their friends are, what their interests are,
what their purchasing behaviors are and more. Identifying those who are highly
connected in the social networking world, and targeting them with meaningful
offers, referral bonuses and retention strategies can pay dividends. The reason:
These days, brand influencers can immediately broadcast their pleasure or
disappointment in a product or service, via social media. The bigger and more
engaged an influencer’s social circle, and the more effective the delivery of their
message, the greater the weight of their opinion. At times, an influencer’s post,
review, video or tweet can even go viral, garnering widespread attention that is
either positive or negative.
A number of free online resources exist that may help you identify
influencers you want to target.
For your Twitter network:
For Google+:
Overall influencer identification:
How important is it to identify influencers? Very. It can give you
the chance to create an ambassador with a large audience, or to right a wrong
in a very public and effective manner. Take the example of Peter Shankman,
entrepreneur, social media expert, founder of HARO (Help a Reporter Out) and
national speaker. When Shankman tweeted his desire for a Morton’s steak in 2011
while preparing for a flight, Morton’s swiftly took notice. They did the legwork,
found out which flight Shankman was on and where to meet him, and a well-
dressed Morton’s representative met him at the airport with a steak bagged to
go. Morton’s knows the value of a large-scale influencer like Peter Shankman. He
has connections in national media, public relations and business, and a Twitter
following topping 118,000. The payoff was big: Not only did Shankman tweet
his pleasure, he blogged about it from both a personal and business marketing
perspective and from a social media perspective. The positive coverage and
word-of-mouth Morton’s got in exchange for delivering a single free steak to an
influencer was priceless.
© 2012 4imprint, Inc. All rights reserved
Consider also the experience of actor and director Kevin Smith, who took his
complaints to the public when he was removed from a Southwest Airlines™ flight
in 2010 for his weight. Smith had purchased two tickets per Southwest’s policy
originally, but had been moved up to an earlier flight which only had a single
seat, after which he was kicked off the flight. Smith set free an angry diatribe
on Twitter. Southwest Airlines took the complaint, coined by some as “Fatgate,”
seriously, publicly apologized and offered Smith a $100 travel voucher. The
incident led to a Southwest boycott by the National Association to Advance Fat
Acceptance (NAAFA), news coverage on a national level and continued Twitter
jabs from Smith. Smith had more than 1.6 million followers on Twitter at the time
of the incident.
Of course, both Smith and Shankman are on the extreme end of influencers,
yet the examples of their experiences and influence show the importance
of identifying key influencers within any brand’s consumer social networks,
analyzing the knowledge and data gleaned through social and interest graphing
and leveraging that knowledge for the benefit of the organization.
El ements of a soci al or i nterest graph
( or, the techni cal stuff)
A social graph consists of nodes, which represent
individuals or items, and edges, which show how those
individuals and items relate to one another. While
such graphs can be used to predict the spread of an
epidemic, for our purposes, they can be used to not only
understand the connections between brand influencers,
their interests and their followers, but also to strategically
engineer a viral marketing campaign.
In this graph, Norma, a shoe store owner, may want to
map out her online social network to better determine their
interests, for cross-promotional opportunities
© 2012 4imprint, Inc. All rights reserved
and to better target the influencers of the group, perhaps indicated by who has
the most connections within and outside the network.
Digital social graphs are, of course, defined by connections within social networks.
More, social networks and other industry experts are making it easier for users to
carry that digital passport with them—so that even when they are outside of any
given social network, they can continue to influence their social graph. Think of
Facebook likes and shares outside of Facebook, and Google+ with users’ ability
to select the plus sign, which essentially adds that item to their social or interest
graph, or both. In fact, many marketers, businesses and even individuals see the
benefits of a service which would broker information between social networks.
Such a system would enable networks to connect with other social networks and
import information from one to the other, without the end user having to build
their profile every time they join a new platform.
The concept is similar to the Facebook function which allows you to find
Facebook users by tapping into your Web-based email account. Boom. Your social
network and your social and interest graphs are populated, without much work
on the user end. Brands or businesses can grow their fan base and better target
influencers by having open access to the information they need to do so.
Everybody’s happy, right? Not so fast.
© 2012 4imprint, Inc. All rights reserved
Pri vacy i ssues
The sticky issues related to social graphs are that they are steeped in questions
about the ownership of information and user privacy. It stems from a basic
difference in why individual users want to be a part of social networks, versus
why brands embrace the technology; the two uses are fundamentally different
and at times, at odds with one another.
Marketers and businesses
embracing social network analysis as a strategy should be aware that
their efforts may be perceived as invasive by the very customers with
whom they hope to forge a stronger connection.
Any new social network wants to tap the data of other social networks.
Yet as they grow, their interest in sharing information—including social
graphs—wanes, as it benefits the network less and less. As individual
users, we want to maintain control over our information and maintain
some semblance of privacy without sacrificing user-friendly aspects of
the platform. Ultimately, users want control of their information, and
although they know that utilizing a social media platform comes at a
cost, the majority believe that cost should come in the form of a brand’s
ability to advertise to us while we are using the site, not at the expense
of our personal data.
But the walls between social networks are gradually being torn down, and with
them, potentially any sense of privacy that users may have assumed or wanted.
As of 2010, the largest social graph in the world belongs to Facebook, as it is
the most widely used social network in the world. Facebook’s social graph is
owned by the company—not shared with other businesses, giving them a leg up
when it comes to the value of their social graph to developers and marketers.
The problem for individual users, is that their personal social graph cannot be
transported to another social network if need be (for example, if they become
displeased with Facebook and want to change to Google+).
Google’s answer to this issue was to create the Social Graph Application
Programming Interface (API), which allows websites to pull public information
about individuals and form a portable I.D. Meantime, Facebook recently
introduced its own Social Graph API, which pulls from a broader range of
information, including an individual’s associated pictures, events and objects.
Facebook’s Zuckerberg says the company plans to connect parts of the Web that
other social networks are building, to create what he calls the “Open Graph,”
10 Iskold, Alex. “Social Graph: Concepts and Issues.” ReadWriteWeb - Web Apps, Web Technology Trends, Social
Networking and Social Media. 12 Sept. 2007. Web. 30 Dec. 2011. <
© 2012 4imprint, Inc. All rights reserved
resulting in the universal mapping of everybody and how they’re related.
Zuckerberg explains, “Yelp™ is mapping out the part of the graph that relates to
small businesses. Pandora™ is mapping out the part of the graph that relates to
music. If we can take these separate maps of the graph and put them all together,
then we can create a Web that’s smarter, more social, more personalized and
more semantically aware.”
The implications for businesses are enormous, as are those for individual users.
The move, if successful, could result in an advertising boon to Facebook, with a
greater data field for businesses to mine and analyze—a one-stop-shop for any
public data about almost anyone in the world you want to reach. For individuals,
the move helps users make everything they do on the Web more social. For
example, if you like a specific film actor, a local movie theatre
which has done its social and interest graphing homework could
alert you to when a movie starring that performer is showing in
your area.
The ultimate vision for users is this: Gone is the need to log in to
individual sites with specific passwords. Gone is the necessity to
find your friends and build your network. Gone is the need to
fish around for what you want to see or find. The Web instead
becomes seemingly intuitive. If a user has searched for a specific
violinist online, an online music channel can anticipate that the
individual will want to listen to that artist’s new album.
The ultimate vision for businesses is this: ease of access to the data of your
consumer base as well as consumers you wish to reach. You will be able to know
what they like, what their interests are, the latest album or novel they purchased
online and other publicly-available information. Likewise, if a consumer shows
interest in your business, as a marketer, Open Graph would enable you to
reach that consumer on a deeper, more meaningful level that is seamless to the
consumer. Because you would have greater access to their social graph, you would
attain greater knowledge of what will resonate with them, what their likes are
and who they are connected with. You will be able to more easily identify the
influencers among your customer base, or the influencers who are potential
customers, then build a marketing plan around how you will use
that information.
11 McCarthy, Caroline. “Facebook F8: One Graph to Rule Them All | The Social - CNET News.” Technology News -
CNET News. 21 Apr. 2010. Web. 30 Dec. 2011. <>.
12 “Facebook: One Social Graph to Rule Them All? - CBS News.” Breaking News Headlines: Business,
Entertainment & World News - CBS News. 21 Apr. 2010. Web. 30 Dec. 2011. <
© 2012 4imprint, Inc. All rights reserved
Critics of Facebook’s push for a single Open Graph say it’s unlikely that a single
social graph would ever make sense.
That’s because users are comfortable
sharing information with different social groups on different levels, they argue.
Most users of the Internet have social graphs of various sizes for various sites.
Think about it: Your Twitter followers are different than your Facebook friends,
and chances are, you share different information with them. Making what is
essentially the many different facets of your online identity accessible to
workmates, friends, family and businesses you frequent concurrently could
make even the most open and public of people uncomfortable.
Meanwhile, critics of Google’s Social Graph API note that developers draw
connections on deep levels most users may not realize, perhaps violating
a sense of privacy. For example, it indexes what are called XFN or XHTML
friend network and friend of a friend (FOAF) data as well as any publicly-
available information. With a total lack of standardization for users to opt
in or opt out, the lack of user control over the migration of this data is
concerning to many privacy advocates. Some argue it’s an issue of free will
and even individual safety.
While the Open Graph concept evolves, individual businesses are able to
do their social and interest graphing in a number of ways. They can employ
pen and paper themselves (likely a time-consuming endeavor), drawing out
the nodes and edges as they scroll through their followers or fans. The greatest
influencers will become apparent by the number of connections they have
and their interest graph (does it overlap with your business offerings? Bingo!).
Alternately, businesses can also select from a number of software offerings,
including some online-based freeware, or vendors who offer the service and will
happily do the work for you.
Of course, having a social and interest graph is only part of the equation for
tapping the data available to you. Experts say, what key businesses and marketers
must keep in mind is that when utilizing social and interest graphing, the data
must inspire action. The wise business leaders and marketers will work to analyze
the data they mine through social media to support organizational decision
making. If there is no action, there will be zero return on investment.
13 Wilson, Fred. “One Graph To Rule Them All?” A VC. 23 Apr. 2010. Web. 30 Dec. 2011. <
14 Kirkpatrick, Marshall. “Is Google’s Social Graph API a Creeping Privacy Violation?” ReadWriteWeb - Web Apps,
Web Technology Trends, Social Networking and Social Media. 04 Feb. 2008. Web. 30 Dec. 2011. <http://www.>.
© 2012 4imprint, Inc. All rights reserved
Putti ng the graph to work
Drawing a social and interest graph is a big project in itself, and will likely be
visually impressive. But what can you do with it? Here are some examples of
measurable attributes of your efforts.
1. You can examine the volume of conversation about topics of significance.
What conversations matter most to you in the online community? Find those
conversations and track the content. Track conversations according to subject
matter as well as source to maintain benchmarking capability.
2. You can identify key themes, opinions and trending topics. You can also
filter conversations by theme and topic to glean even better value to
your organization.
3. You can analyze the sentiment among those involved in
the conversation. Track and record the tone of conversations;
are they positive, negative or neutral? The more specific you
are related to sentiment, the greater the insights you will
gain by listening in.
4. You can identify your brand’s influencers, segment and
target your audience. Ever changing and growing, your
field of influencers includes individuals, companies and
websites with logged conversations about topics that relate
to your organization, product or service. But you must go a
step further to gain a more meaningful benefit: Track the
spread of content through platforms and to other networks.
Companies like Linkfluence™ can do the work for you. More,
once you have a feel for the activity of your influencers,
you can target those most important to you and your brand
with strategic marketing initiatives. Since you know what’s
important to them, and what their interests are, developing a plan to meet those
criteria will increase your chances of success.
5. You can track how and where material goes viral. Sure, you have Web
analytics, but there are other tools, like those offered by Meteor Solutions, a
Seattle-based digital marketing company, which can help your company track
what goes viral and where. This eliminates the temptation to assume who your
15 Cormier, Jason. “The New Business Intelligence of Social Media - Search Engine Watch (#SEW).” Search Engine
Marketing (SEM), Paid Search Advertising (PPC) & Search Engine Optimization (SEO) - Search Engine Watch
(#SEW). 20 Sept. 2010. Web. 30 Dec. 2011. <
© 2012 4imprint, Inc. All rights reserved
primary influencers are; instead, you may learn a lot about how material is spread
through other channels.
Busi ness i ntel l i gence of soci al medi a
Jason Cormier wrote about the inevitable frustration that results from the
gap between data and actionable strategy. Simply put, you can have the most
comprehensive social network analysis and graphing out there, but if the
information doesn’t inspire you to take action, there is no return on investment.
Cormier recommends a few examples of social business intelligence of social
media in action.
Content development. According to Cormier, the primary ingredients of social
marketing are content and context. Social network analysis and the resulting
business intelligence gives you the information you need to know where you
should be investing your social media resources and what kind of information you
should be sharing. You will gain knowledge that can be applied to your business
in a number of ways: branding, sales, product development
and customer service.
Influencer monitoring and outreach. Can we say it once
more? Find the influencers to influence the conversations that
are most important to you. Note what they are discussing and
the tone of the conversation. Then develop a strategy that
will inspire the conversations you want to read online about
your brand.
Development of priorities. What you’re interested in
personally may not be what your target audience is engaged
in. Find them where they are through your social network
analysis, then prioritize your efforts.
To those in marketing, it’s no surprise that the industry has been relatively slow to
embrace the science of social networking. It’s complex, and it is often difficult to
understand the applications for the data we’re mining.
Here are three ways you
can apply what you’ve learned through social network analysis.
1.Early warning social listening. By approaching social listening from a scientific
standpoint, analysts can gain important lead time on PR crises, which could
eventually be averted altogether, or acted upon earlier. By honing in on
16 Ibid.
17 Satell, Greg. “3 Ways to Use Social Network Analysis for Marketing.” Digital Tonto. 5 Oct. 2011. Web. 30 Dec.
2011. <>.
© 2011 4imprint, Inc. All rights reserved
4imprint serves more than 100,000 businesses with innovative promotional items throughout the United States,
Canada, United Kingdom and Ireland. Its product offerings include giveaways, business gifts, personalized gifts,
embroidered apparel, promotional pens, travel mugs, tote bags, water bottles, Post-it Notes, custom calendars,
and many other promotional items. For additional information, log on to
network-central individuals, marketers can focus their concentration on fewer
conversations to follow—resulting in stronger results.
2. Evaluating and tracking network health. Greg Satell of Digital Tonto argues
that the number of people in your social network matters less than how the
network is structured. His example: Hundreds of people in a park won’t talk to
each other much, yet the same people at a wedding reception likely will. Better
understanding how information is exchanged in your network will enable you to
target viral campaigns to groups likely to carry them, while also building more
effective communities. While methods for evaluating network health are few, it
is dangerous to assume that just by adding followers, you are strengthening your
network; in fact you may be weakening it and your messages will be lost.
3. Integrating marketing campaigns. Most marketers recommend targeting
influencers with your social network strategy, yet some network theorists
recommend finding people who are susceptible to your messaging and
reaching many of them with that message. Satell’s argument is that these days,
influence flows through a network with everyone influencing everyone else. The
recommendation: Seed the network with messaging that targets those likely to
be receptive to it, then encourage and enable them to do so.
While Satell writes that network insights in marketing are few, the data is there:
Launching a successful marketing campaign is not unlike watching the spread of
a flu epidemic. The knowledge exists and in many cases algorithmic approaches
are available to those interested in giving them a try. Truth is, the science behind
network analysis is often relegated to academia, and difficult to distill into
marketing language. Yet, by learning to develop social and interest graphs,
identifying influencers, listening to the conversations happening online and
developing a social media strategy to achieve organization’s goals, marketers can
start to see a tangible return on their investment. Whether it’s a video you create
that goes viral thanks to your brand’s influencers, a conversation that changes
from online bashing to glowing, or more likes and follows, by expanding your
social network you can help mold and shape the virtual landscape of your brand,
with real-world payback.