Looking for followers may be more predictive than looking for leaders

Ever since Malcolm Gladwell made the topic of influence popular with his book Tipping Point there has been a healthy debate between those who ‘believe’ that there are a host of influencers living amongst us, and those who believe that influence effects are rare/minimal. Check out “Is the Tipping Point Toast?” by Clive Thompson on Fast Company. The TED video below by Derek Silver shows (in just three minutes) a great illustration of why influence (as a push phenomenon) might be less interesting that a propensity to follow, especially a propensity to follow people we are similar too. In the video, Derek Silver is talking about leadership, but the same message is true for influence. If we had analysed the dancing man example in a big data way, we would typically assume that the first dancer was ‘influential’. But when we look hard at what is happening, we can see how important following is to the pattern. If you found this post interesting, you might want to check out my post “Does influence exist, or is it homophily?“ And, to continue the trend of finishing with a question, a two-part question. Where was the picture in the header of this […]

Ask, Measure, Learn – Lutz Finger and Soumitra Dutta

I’ve just finished reading this book and I would strongly recommend it to anybody seeking to understand the methods and challenges of measuring phenomena in social media. The book is probably stronger on talking about things that don’t work, as opposed to things that do work, but in this time of hype that is probably no bad thing. For example, the book shows why the ROI of many types of activities can’t be measured without making some large assumptions about how things work, and point out that in many cases it is the ‘R’ in ROI that is the problem. Key themes addressed by the book include metrics for different sorts of social media activities, the problems of assessing causality, the tension between influencer models and homophily, and the difference between reach and intent. The book provides an excellent list of links to further sources (especially if reading the ebook), and provides a great overview of measurement in areas such as social media marketing, CRM, sales, and PR. This is the best primer on the subject I have read so far and it is, at the moment, sparklingly up to date. The print copy of the book is not currently […]

Does influence exist, or is it homophily?

Posted by Ray Poynter, 7 February 2014 One of the growth areas over the last few years has been in the interest in influence marketing, with books such as “The Influentials: One American in Ten Tells the Other Nine How to Vote, Where to Eat, and What to Buy”, metrics such as Klout and Kred, and marketing services such as Klout’s Perks. The appeal of the influencer model is mostly common sense and has been popularised by writers such as Malcolm Gladwell in his book Tipping Point. New ideas are picked up by key people, people with extensive networks and who tend to be trend leaders, they adopt something and influence the people around them. Looking at social data it is easy to find, for any given trend, people who were in at the start and how the trend flows into the rest of the network. The concept of influence dates back to Paul Lazarsfeld in the 1940s, who suggested that the media were intermediated by influencers. Homophily However, there are alternatives to the influencer model, and the key one you are going to be hearing about more and more is homophily. Homophily is the tendency of people with similar […]