Monday, December 29

"Followers are not Friends"

Yesterday, I was reading gigaom and scrolled through some of Om's posts and found this terrific post regarding research from the HP Social Lab:
On Twitter, he found that regardless of the number of followers or followees, there were very few friends in a personal Twitter circle. He used a very weak definition of “friend” — anyone to whom a user has directed a post at least twice. And because of that, Huberman says that in order to “influence a person’s absorption of content, there is a need to find the hidden social network; the one that matters when trying to rely on word of mouth to spread an idea, a belief, or a trend.”

Huberman’s study found that:
  • Users with a large number of followers are not necessarily those with very large number of total posts.
  • Even though the number of friends initially increases as the number of followees increases, after a while the number of friends starts to saturate and stays nearly constant.
  • The number of people a user actually communicates with eventually stops increasing while the number of followees can continue to grow inde´Čünitely.
What was powerful was the one graph that shows the saturation point that they discovered from the dataset they generated:
Now, add your other networks (Friendfeed, Facebook, LinkedIn, mySpace, Xing), your steady diet of blog posts, and then handle your email inbox, your incoming cell phone calls - can not imagine why a saturation point occurs.


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