Tuesday, January 29, 2008

PBS Documentary shows the inadequacy of using number of friends as a measure of influence

PBS recently aired a Frontline Special named "Growing up Online" which looks at how the Internet is affecting youth and transforming the experience of childhood. You can watch the full program here.

The part that I found particularly interesting in light of our discussion of influencers and how to identify them, concerns a segment where they have three teenage girls talk about how befriending someone in a social network has evolved into a game that no longer testifies to the quality of the relationship. You can watch the one minute clip from the Frontline Special below:

I think this discussion shows some of the problems associated with relying on the number of friends or contacts as a metric of social media influence. Although I uderstand that Edelman is moving toward a new metric, their old model, the Social Media Index, derived a person's web influence at least partly from the size of that person's social network.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised that was even considered as a measurement of social influence to begin with?!? Sites like Facebook and Myspace are no different I think, than lets say dating websites where people spice up the facts to make themselves more appealing. Sure they have 1k friends, but do they even KNOW them? I agree with the need for a new metric.