Influence in social networks:
I have seen it suggested before that social networks, like Facebook, in which people can establish circles of their friends and share messages over the internet, consist of a number of highly connected people with lots of friends and a somewhat larger number of people who have declared few to be friends.  That idea has now been pushed farther.  (Sinan and Aral and Dylan Walker Identifying Influential and Susceptible Members of Social Networks SCIENCE vol. 337 no. 6092 July 20, 2012 page 337) 

The notion is that a few individuals, the Influentials, deliver themselves on an opinion and the Susceptibles tend to go along with them.  It should be pointed out that this pattern occurs in some specific area of interest.  An Influential in one field might be a Susceptible in another.

I do not consider myself as having an agenda; I don’t want to dictate what people do.  But I do want people to take an interest in something I think is important so they can avoid falling victim to their own ignorance.  That of course constitutes an agenda of sorts.  So I would like to be an Influential.  I assure you nothing could be farther from the case so far as Facebook goes.  I have I suppose an average number of contacts but I rarely post things.  I just send individual messages when it seems like a good idea.  If one does not post anything, one cannot be influential, so there is a non starter.

But in the matter of this web site I work harder at it.  So what does it take to be influential?  The study randomized the people they were looking at and then introduced some messages that might be taken as opinions and then followed the responses.  They noticed a few things. 

People tend to be either susceptible or not.  Ok.  This is for all the jelly beans. 

Older is less susceptible.  Got it.

Men are more influential.  Got it, although in my heart I believe that nothing will come of this unless the ladies pick up the ball and run with it.

Women influence men more than men influence women.  I thought so.

Married people are least susceptible.  Not married.

Influential people tend to have influential friends.  I have no way to decide where I stand on that one.

So overall it seems interesting, but no strategy seems to present itself.  If you address influential people (assuming you can find them.  I look for people who have published relevant articles) you will probably get ignored.  You may have more luck with susceptible people listening, but it’s going to stop there. 

Hmm.  Anybody got any ideas?

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