I have been watching a lot of TED Talks lately. I recently watched one by Nicholas Christakis on "How Social Networks Predict Epidemics." An epidemic can be anything which spreads throughout society: illness, gossip, ideas, technology trends, and so on. During his discussion, Nicholas defined the Friendship Paradox, which states that "for almost every person, that person's friends have more friends (and will be more influential)than them." He went on to demonstrate that if you pick 6 people from a society at random, and ask them to nominate one of their friends, that friend will be closer to the centre of the social network than they are.
From a digital marketing perspective, this is pretty powerful stuff. Marketers are always looking for highly influential people to help spread ideas and news in their communities. We often spend a lot of time scanning social channels looking for people of influence,asking people to raise their hands and join online communities, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, and forums, or inviting people into a community based on their bios or specific attributes. The next step, if using the Friendship Paradox, is to ask these original community members to nominate one of their friends to join the community. If The Paradox holds true, these nominated members will be closer to the hub of influence. If they were to also nominate a one of their friends, the next round of nominees will be closer still.
I'm looking forward to testing this at Sequentia in the coming months. Have you done any testing on influencer outreach that you care to share?
Watch the video - it's pretty compelling stuff!