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May 25, 2010

The Underlying Relevance of Social Networks

Earlier this year for Ted, physician and social scientist Nicholas Christakis explains his research and findings regarding the impact and relevancy of social networks

Heidi StrandThe 18-minute speech by Nicholas Christakis is fascinating, and well worth the time.

Christakis takes us on a thought-provoking, connected journey of clusters and colors that offer startling insight and correlations into social networks.

Don’t be confused though with the terminology. While the topic is about social networks … this isn’t about social media per se. Christakis’ findings present a much bigger picture than today’s marketing hot button.

Christakis suggests that nearly everything is connected and through those connections, clustering occurs based on one’s affiliations. From obesity to emotions – our friends and their friends likely have similar profiles. For example, if I am a “happy” individual, I am likely friends with those who are also happy and my friends’ friends are happy people, too. The startling piece of this is that the opposite is true as well. If I am an angry or depressed person, my network of friends have similar emotions.

But, you may be asking how does this apply to marketing or to me personally? (Other than the obvious fact that you should be happy and hang around happy people?)

Well, what about thought leadership, or entrepreneurship, or innovation, or product adoption, or viral impact, or … or … or. The potential list for how social networks affect our lives is now infinite and mind-blowing.

While Christakis couldn’t answer the question “Why do the clusters form,” he does begin a crucial conversation in which we should no longer simply think that these issues are mere occurrences. Rather, they are interconnected, organic and evolving networks that have tentacles far reaching and more influencing than we ever imagined.