The anatomy of a network: how to make friends and influence people online

In our debut Colmar Brunton nzgirl Tracker, we uncovered some noteworthy social media statistics. While we’re all aware of high usage of Facebook (our results show 70 percent of respondents check/update Facebook daily or more), we were surprised by the sheer size of the networks: 65 percent had between 100-400 friends and the average number was 300. 

So what constitutes a friend? For me I’ll only “friend” you if you’re a) someone I know well and b) someone I’d have a drink with. I want to feel relaxed and able to share (or possibly over-share, as the case may be) in this environment. I tend to avoid work people as ‘friends’ and opt to use Linkedin for that purpose. I also tweet and I’m more inclined to update that than my FB status.

In search of the answer on a wider scale, I headed to Facebook and asked our audience (click here to see them all).

What I took out of those responses was a changing attitude to how we quantify “friends”. The longer we spend using Facebook, the more we’re able to distinguish between the popularity contest (“look how many friends I have”), the curiosity factor (“wonder what she looks like”) and valuing our privacy.

Coupled with the Facebook data, we saw an interesting statistic in the way that women are researching products prior to purchase. 35 percent of respondents said they use Facebook and Twitter as ways to find out what people think of products. Put into this context, we can start to look at using the 300 average as a way to project how many people we can distribute product review messages to.

For instance, in our Influencer’s Programme we hand pick 100 ‘Instinctives’ and invite them to participate in product trials and incentivise them to post reviews. These reviews are then rewarded points based on how they communicate it to their own personal networks. The more Facebook likes, Tweets, comments and <3’s they get, the more points they’re awarded and the higher up the ‘influence’ list they go. Check it out here.

So if we send out 100 product reviews and incentivise 20 to write reviews, with an average of 300 friends per reviewer, we can expect our amplification to be 20 x 300 = 6000. That’s a powerful level of multiplication.

To that end, we may actually be able to finally see a way in which direct mail is going to become increasingly relevant again, as the letter box becomes the single most powerful way to get products into the hands of consumers and amplified out to a mass audience.



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