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Social Networks Science

Online Social Networks Can Be Tipped By Less Than 1% of Their Population 125

An anonymous reader writes "A new algorithm developed by researchers at West Point seems to break new ground for viral marketing practices in online social networks. Assuming a trend or behavior that spreads in an online social network based on the classic 'tipping' model from sociology (based on the work of Thomas Schelling and Mark Granovetter), the new West Point algorithm can find a set of individuals in the network that can initiate a social cascade – a progressive series of 'tipping' incidents — which leads to everyone in the social network adopting the new behavior. The good news for viral marketers is that this set of individuals is often very small – a sample of the Friendster social network can be influenced when only 0.8% of the initial population is seeded. The trick is finding the seed set. The algorithm is described in a paper to be presented later this summer at the prestigious IEEE ASONAM conference."
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Online Social Networks Can Be Tipped By Less Than 1% of Their Population

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  • by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Monday June 04, 2012 @02:14PM (#40211357)

    But which 1%, There are a lot of 1% out there.

    The Tea Party is controlled by the Oil Companies 1%.
    The Occupy is controlled by the Unions 1%
    The Favorite Trend is controlled by the Marketers 1%...

    It doesn't seem that you have any decisions to make for yourself, There is always someone else telling you what to think.

  • by geekmux ( 1040042 ) on Monday June 04, 2012 @02:17PM (#40211393)

    Is this what Occupy means when they say 1% of the country controls everything?

    Uh, I tend to read this statistic in the other direction. It means 99.2% of people are nothing more than sheep following the flock, which makes sense considering we're basically talking about Farcebook. All other forms of social networking have pretty much been reduced to a moot point.

  • by Lord Byron Eee PC ( 1579911 ) on Monday June 04, 2012 @02:19PM (#40211411)
    "The trick is finding the seed set." No, it's not. The real trick is finding the seed set of the seed set. On Facebook, you have 900 million users. 1% of that is 9 million, which is too large to influence. But 1% of that 1% is just 90,000, something that a targeted advertising campaign might be able to influence.
  • by plover ( 150551 ) * on Monday June 04, 2012 @02:25PM (#40211497) Homepage Journal

    Any chance they're just witnessing C&C nodes transmitting spam orders or pagerank gaming links to the remaining 99.2% of Friendster accounts (all of which are hacked and forgotten)?

    It's a comp sci paper that is looking for connected nodes in a network, and they're using copies of data sets of social networks as their starting point. They aren't monitoring networks looking for "who is exerting influence over them", they're looking for nodes that are well connected to other nodes, presuming those represent the most valuable people to convince.

    Now, could those "friends and families" in the network data actually be there as part of a botnet controller and its zombie minions? Sure, why not? But each one of those would be a single node in the set of nodes as having the right connections. Doesn't mean that marketing to the botherder or the botnet is going to get you much business, but if you were looking for someone who has influence, it would identify the botherder and not the bots themselves.

  • by bkaul01 ( 619795 ) on Monday June 04, 2012 @03:15PM (#40212169)
    How are you defining a "major religion"? Christianity has around 2 billion adherents, Islam around 1.5 billion, Hinduism around a billion, Buddhism around half a billion ... other than Judaism, what major religions can count less than 115 million people?
  • by tlhIngan ( 30335 ) <> on Monday June 04, 2012 @03:32PM (#40212415)

    It's the other way around; Occupy is trying to be the seed that starts the social cascade. Their problem is twofold though 1) They represent far, far less than the necessary seed size, and 2) Their attempts to initiate tipping incidents don't result in any cascade because the 99% they claim as sympathizers aren't.

    That's because they use the wrong targets that end up making them look like unemployed hippies.

    To "tip" a population properly requires people to reaosnably agree with you - if I headed occupy (metaphoically), you can start with something so simple, so basic, yet everyone is powerless to fix.

    An example would be gas - why is it costing just the same as it did before the crash? Oil's down these days (and yes, even though there's about as much relation between gas prices and oil prices as there is between a head of lettuce and oil prices, most people equate oil prices with gas). Tap into that rage and it's much easier to tip.

    Trying to convince people that the rich are ruining our lives and enslaving us is a concept that's much too foreign to most people to comprehend. Use more concrete examples and you'll be more successful. Especially if that example has a deep-rooted emotion attached with it.

    It also applies to everything - take ACTA for example. Talking about copyright law in general gets you blank stares. So talk about its effects - it can make your iPod illegal (think "they're gonna take your iPod away!").

    A concrete example is worth way more to tip someone over in your favor than some wishy-washy concept that no one can relate to. Heck, it can even be seasonal - support for global warming ebbs and flows - it ebbs in the winter and reaches a low in the spring, and flows in the summer. The hotter the summer, the more support grows. The colder the winter, the more support is lost.

  • by Eponymous Hero ( 2090636 ) on Monday June 04, 2012 @04:12PM (#40212919)
    like this: christianity is not a religion, it's a classification of religions. catholics are not methodists are not baptists are not 7th day adventists are not episcopalians are not jehovah witnesses etc...

Man is an animal that makes bargains: no other animal does this-- no dog exchanges bones with another. -- Adam Smith