Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Stop using "viral" - it ain't

Stop saying viral!
At the #SGMDub social media session (and most other places too) many people referred to "ploughing a lonely furrow in my department" with social media. By now you've probably seen Structural diversity in social contagion, nicely summed up as follows:
"Epidemiology-based models suggest that the most important factor in determining whether an idea (in this case, to join Facebook) will spread to a given individual is how many other people the individual knows who have already been exposed to it. Just as someone is more likely to contract the flu if lots of his friends have been infected, the theory was that the more friends someone has that have signed up to Facebook, the more likely he ought to be to join. Instead, the researchers found that the best predictor of whether someone would join Facebook was a subtly different factor: the number of distinct groups that an individual could link up with through the site. Most people have more than one social network: a group of one's old school friends, for instance, is likely to have little contact with one's work colleagues, who in turn won't have much to do with one's extended family. The more such groups were present on Facebook, the greater the probability that an individual would join. In fact, once they had controlled for this effect, the researchers found that, if anything, users became slightly less likely to join as the number of Facebooked kith and kin rose."
This makes much sense, and points to the need for a multipronged approach to foster social tool adoption where people get the "can't afford not to or will be left behind" rationale.

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