Posted in Blogging | Communication | Information Technology | Networking | Social Media | Sustainable Design by Steve Muller (Manager of Client Development) on October 6, 2010
Image: © Dr. Granovetter & The American Journal of Sociology 1973, Volume 78, Issue 6
Have you ever wondered why social media has taken off the way it has? Why websites like Facebook and LinkedIn have gained tremendous popularity and now have tens of millions and even hundreds of millions of users? And if you’re engaged in social media, how could you make the most of it? Part of the answer can be found in a social network theory first proposed by Dr. Mark Granovetter in the 1970s. Understanding Granovetter’s work can be quite helpful in growing a network of contacts with some intentionality.
Dr. Granovetter researched economic sociology and developed a theory on the spread of information in social networks. That is the backbone of his paper “The Strength of Weak Ties” (1973), and helps shed light on why current social networks grow and spread so naturally.
Granovetter’s research indicated that a combination of factors affect the ‘strength’ of interpersonal ties that people have – things like amount of time, emotional intensity, intimacy and confiding, and reciprocal services shared between individuals. The presence of these factors strengthens ties, ultimately forming ‘cliques’ of social structure, bound by these common interactions.
The benefits of weak ties come into play in connecting the ‘cliques.’ Weak ties bridge the gap between separate social groups to provide access to information and influence in circles where the cliques would not normally interact. A weak tie is seen in an acquaintance, friend of a friend, someone you knew or worked with years ago, or even a relative that you’re not especially close to. The point is that the affiliation isn’t strong at the present time, even if it was previously. In Granovetter’s modeling, the weak ties have their own cliques, separate from the ones you are engaged in or familiar with, and through that weak tie, you can access the other individuals, information, and influence; that’s the strength of weak ties.
The engagement of strong ties and weak ties is really what has made social media take off so quickly, and with apparent sustainability. People that use Facebook and LinkedIn are benefitting from the strong ties they share with friends, close business associates, family, former classmates, etc., and are bridging the gap to new information and influence through friends of friends (weak ties) that they would not have had access to otherwise. It is a perfect modeling and application of Granovetter’s research from almost 40 years ago, and it is bearing fruit in social networking and business development today.No comments yet | Permalink | Tags: Business, Development, Economic, Granovetter, Media, Network, Social, Sociology, The American Journal of Sociology
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