Posts Tagged: Social Networks

Mar 13

Thinking About Network Efficiency

Lately a topic that’s been on my mind is the idea of network efficiency. This considers how a topic can hit a group of networked individuals so that it effectively gets spread throughout its network.  To think about this topic another way, how many people  did the Harlem Shake need to hit for it to go ‘viral’ instead of just falling into obscurity like many other videos.  Could a small subset of people effectively have enough reach and traction to reach a few hundred thousand others?

An Intro To Networks…

Something to keep in mind about networks (social networks, interpersonal networks and the like) is that there are two key components , nodes and edges. A node is an individual entity in a network ( ie: a person) and an edge is the different connections between the nodes. Now obviously, certain nodes have more edges, this connects them to many more nodes. Depending on the connections of the nodes, some have similar connections or some that are not similar at all. Why is knowing this useful? Information shared by a node with many edges spreads messaging more effectively than one with just a few. Also, two unrelated but highly connected nodes can share messaging with  a larger reach and less overlap compared to two that are similarly matched. This means a higher rate of separate connections= more reach= more effective messaging spread. (To learn a bit more about network graphs have a look here)


Here is a look at my Facebook social network. The circles would be all of the nodes and the lines between them would be the edges.

Here is a look at my Facebook social network displayed through a program called Gephi. The circles in this picture are my individual friends (or nodes) and the lines between them displays how they are connected ( the edges)


Making Something the Next Big Conversation Topic

I could go into a bit more depth with this topic but I want to keep this post pretty short. At the end of the day, the idea of nodes and edges in a social or interpersonal network  sense can be related back to how quickly and effectively a message is spread. Imagine if we could know which people in a network are needed to best get a message across. Instead of spraying a group with your message you could get it to the right people and have it evenly distributed throughout.Knowing what efforts are needed to make your content reach your target group rather than become  some little known code on the web can ensure increased success and better use of resources.

Jul 09

Relaunching an Online Community

Social Networks  are a great way of connecting people who share the same interests and encourage community discussion. Thinking that this may be a great tool to connect its more than 200,000  members across North America the Sigma Chi Fraternity (of which I’m a member of ) decided to create a community for its members where they can interact and connect. Hosted by Affinity Circles its a pretty robust system that allows interaction at many different levels and members are able to form their own groups based on location or interest. Its a great tool and it would be very useful in achieving its purpose… if someone actually used it.

This was the old network ( I personally liked the layout)

This was the old network ( I personally liked the layout)

As a an active member there was no discussion of this site within my chapter or when meeting members from other chapters, I only came across it when searching through  Sigma Chi’s central site. Because no one was active on it and because there was no real life connection or use for it this network was empty and barren. Instead members have reverted to using  larger networks such as Facebook to connect. The downfall with this is that disparate groups are made instead of gathering the organization  together as a whole.

Can this be fixed?

Well the headquarters staff is trying its best to . At a recent Fraternity meeting  this past weekend  they  launched  a new network with toned down features and a simpler interface hoping that it will appeal to both younger and older generations. While this may address some issues in the end I feel  it won’t fix the larger issue of participation.

The new network. Simplified and waiting to be used.

The new network. Simplified and waiting to be used.

So how can this relaunch become successful so it doesn’t become yet another empty community?  While I’m not claiming to be an expert here are some of my ideas in developing interest and use of this website by the general fraternity:

Community leaders: By getting volunteers ( either chapter presidents or designated  geographic community managers) to actively use , connect, and discuss this site  becoming evangelists for this initiative the hope will be to get people talking about it once again and  encourage its use.By building its use in day to day tasks  for active/alumni chapter operations or as a space for organizing events and initiatives among members, users will have a reason to return on a more regular basis and will come to associate the website as the space for Fraternity information/news .

Creating a Hub: Another important piece to this new site is making sure  that it offers something that other social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter don’t . A big part of this in my opinion is having  a central interaction point. While Sigma Chi has a central website, by creating a page where news and events from the fraternity as a whole are posted members will come to this page to keep up to date with whats happening within the fraternity . This can be as simple as a weekly blog posting or advanced as a news feed where members can recieve news and updates from the entire site or just the networks they are involved in.

Connecting Content : Bringing in and organizing the  content  located on other sites will be a good community building tool as well. There are many facebook groups, flickr feeds, Youtube videos and blog entries related to Sigma Chi scattered across the net. Allowing members to either link or post this content up will encourage interaction and discussion. While this may be a bigger undertaking I also feel posting up materials such as  pledge manuals, historic pictures  and other memrobelia on this site will also build  increased value with network users.

These are just a few points that I feel will help to ensure that this new site doesn’t go to waste. There will be a lot of work needed to build interest and to ensure the usability of this network. I’m curious to hear  more about people’s experiences in building community and thoughts of how one can be started/restarted. Feel free to post your thoughts/ideas in the comments section below.

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