How connected are we all to each other?
A recent study has been carried out by the boffins behind the scenes at Facebook to see what degree of separation we all have from each other. This test would show how interlinked we all are and not only that, but how easy information could spread from one person to another. The result was 3.74 degrees of separation (5 hops), or in Lehman’s terms, ‘a friend of your friend knows a friend of their friend’ (confusing, eh?). In short, the degree of separation is about how many intermediaries are between the meeting of two people on average or how many ‘hops’ does it take to get to the next person.
In 2008, Facebook carried out a similar experiment and found the result was slightly higher at 4.28 degrees of separation (6 hops), however the size of the Facebook network was comparably much smaller so it could be expected that with Facebook’s growth that there would be differences with the results now. Facebook took an enormous sample of their social network to carry out the experiment and the results could be invaluable to social marketeers.
“In our studies, performed earlier this year, we examined all 721 million active Facebook users (more than 10% of the global population), with 69 billion friendships among them. To date, these are the largest social network studies ever released.”
Other social networks such as LinkedIn have tried to illuminate these degrees of separation to make you more aware of people within your extended network and you will see this on your profile where it will tell you if someone is a first degree, second degree or third degree connection to you. Maybe Facebook and other social media sites may look to follow suit in this way.
If there is one thing that we can take from this study it is that it shows how interlinked we all are and how the likes of viral marketing and social media campaigns can really take off online and pay dividends. From a search engine optimisation (SEO) point of view, social media can offer great ways of getting out your fresh content to millions of people across the world which will improve the traffic to your site and its ranking within the search engine results page (SERP).
Remember to check back on our blog and be sure to tell your friend’s friend, who can then let a friend of their friend know… or something like that anyway!