Internet trends: marketing research & predictions

Facebook’s Naked Reality: Social Networks Research Insights

July 10th, 2009 by and

It’s already an established phenomenon that in the social networking era friendship is more virtual and 6 degrees of separation has now been reduced to mere 3 degrees. However, seminal work of Dr. Robin Dunbar, an anthropologist, concluded that the cognitive power of the brain limits the size of the social network that an individual of any given species can develop. Extrapolating from the brain sizes and social networks of apes, Dr Dunbar suggested that the size of the human brain allows stable networks of about 148. Rounded to 150, this has become famous as “the Dunbar number”.

However the Dunbar number represents a person’s wider network. The actual number of individuals that represents his social “core network” with whom individuals “can discuss important matters”, numbers only 3 for Americans.

1. Do social networks increase the size of people’s personal networks?

Research findings of Dr. Cameron Marlow, the “in-house sociologist” at Facebook, suggests that the average number of “friends” in a Facebook network is 120, consistent with the Dunbar number.

Facebook real friends Trendsspotting Facebooks Naked Reality: Social Networks Research Insights

Image Source: Business Week

Interesting to observe here that the number of people on an individual’s friend list with whom he (or she) frequently interacts is remarkably small and stable. For example, an average Facebook user—one with 120 friends—generally trades emails or responds to the postings of only 7 closets friends. But, as  Facebook’s team reveals, social network interactions as taken at Facebook brings users to passively engage with 2-2.5 times more people in ones network (passive friends with whom a Facebook user maintains either ‘one-way relationship’ or ‘just barely in touch’).

2. Is online social networking as local as offline social networking?

Researchers at Hebrew University analyzed the messaging habits of 100,000 Facebook users by zip code & observed that the volume of e-mail traffic as a function of geographical distance follows an inverse power law i.e. the more local the sender-receiver, the higher the density of messages.
Distance power law Facebooks Naked Reality: Social Networks Research Insights

Our take :

Arrow4 RED Facebooks Naked Reality: Social Networks Research Insights Highly interactive social platforms as Facebook can extend to a degree (“2x increase in connectivity”) the communication outside a person’s core network.

Arrow4 RED Facebooks Naked Reality: Social Networks Research Insights Technology would continue enabling an environment conducive to ‘overshare‘, but we would still maintain a pattern of intimacy preferably with those who are located over shorter distance.
Avg number of friends Trendsspotting Facebooks Naked Reality: Social Networks Research Insights
Image Source: Universal McCann

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Where’s The Buzz : Oprah’s Weight Battle

December 13th, 2008 by


2576189724 df56d0a794 m Wheres The Buzz : Oprahs Weight Battle  
Talk show diva & world’s most powerful celebrity Oprah Winfrey spilled the beans on her “embarrassing” weight gain. Due to her thyroid problem her weight went from 160 pounds a couple of years ago to 200 pounds today.

Winfrey says :

I’m mad at myself, I’m embarrassed. I can’t believe that after all these years, I’m still talking about my weight.”

During her upcoming “Oprah’s Best Life Week” show Oprah plans to talk about how to get back on track to lose weight in 2009.

However some of our observations here :

  • As we people make our New Year’s resolutions , fitness searches surge. Here is Google Trends for ‘diets’.
  • Not all that we wish – we can achieve. For example : losing weight remains one of the toughest goal to achieve.

Call it her publicity stunt or another “oversharing” -Yahoo buzzlog reports surges in “Oprah Weight” look ups. May be all she needs , adding up this years one of the most wanted product -”wii fit” – into her holiday shopping list.

All the best Oprah !

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Publicly Pregnant – Another ‘Oversharing’

December 6th, 2008 by

As we are wrapping up the year – two more “oversharing” news hit our desk. A couple of celebrities announced their pregnancies this week, sparking an unexpected amount of buzz. Kelly Rutherford, best known for her role on “Gossip Girl,” confirmed that she and her hubby are expecting their second little miracle. Yahoo buzz reports searches on the 40-year-old thespian surged an astonishing 54,275% — by far the biggest jump of the week.

Elsewhere, Olympic champion Kerri Walsh announced that she was going to be a mom for the first time. The gold medal-winning volleyball player saw her queries nearly double. Related searches on “kerri walsh pregnant” and “kerri walsh pics” also spiked.

Continue watching the ‘oversharing’ in 2009.

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2008: Word Of The Year

December 6th, 2008 by

3084630627 f675f31160 2008: Word Of The Year

If the most looked up words are any reflection of the mood of our society , it is no wonder that “bailout”—a word ubiquitously featured in discussions of the presidency & fiscal policy—took home honors as Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Year for 2008.

Bailout (noun): a rescue from financial distress

The origin of the word bailout here. Infact the top 10 list reflects politics & the economy were foremost on the minds of many Americans during 2008. For example – second on the list -”vet” means to evaluate a candidate’s suitability and qualifications for a position. And in third place, just in front of “maverick” – a word used during the long presidential campaign to describe Republican candidate John McCain – was the word “socialism”.

Bailout also won American Dialect Society’s word of the year contest.

With social media on rise all across the globe , there is just excess of personal information we are divulging on blogs & SN profiles. Not a big surprise again – “overshare” is Webster’s New World Dictionary’s word of the year.

Overshare (verb): to divulge excessive personal information, as in a blog or broadcast interview, prompting reactions ranging from alarmed discomfort to approval.

Blogs surged with “Oversharing” this year from a New York Times Magazine cover story in May by Emily Gould, a former editor of Gawker.com. Gould spilled the goods on her ongoing professional and romantic dramas on her own blog, and then wrote about the perils of oversharing: “Technology just enables us to overshare on a different scale.”

Two other candidates for Word of the Year 2008

Cyberchondriac (noun): a hypochondriac who imagines that he or she has a particular disease based on medical information gleaned from the Internet.
Selective Ignorance (noun): the practice of selectively ignoring distracting, irrelevant, or otherwise unnecessary information received, such as e-mails, news reports, etc.

Infact the words underscores that in the year 2008 has seen one element of ‘Attention Economy‘ shaping up – “consumer attention”. However privacy challenges are around. A recent IDG’s study found that only 3% of users surveyed are OK with publishers using their contact information for advertising.

Will 2009 be the year of “attention services”? Feel free to overshare in the comments!

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