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Skype Data Study Reveals Real Patterns of Social Adoption

In class, we have been discussing information cascades and threshold cascade models. Global patterns of adoption spreading are manifested by local adoption cascades initialed by various adopters arriving at a constant rate, and social influence plays a huge role on whether an individual enters the cascade or not. As mentioned in class, stable adopters who are initially resistant to be exposed, are very influential and responsible for the emergence of global social adoption. The following study is based on an observation of paid service adoptions over the span of eight years on the Skype, which is a social network that connects over 500 million people all over the world. A behavioral threshold theory was used to categorize people by how susceptible or dependent they are to other people’s decisions.

People can be classified into three groups based off of how they adopt new ideas. Innovators are spontaneous with their own ideas and they have the necessary connections to effectively influence others. Socially-influenced individuals include both the susceptibles, who get easily influenced by others, and the stables, who may be influenced but need a stronger force before getting convinced. Lastly, there is an immune or uncertain population who will never become adopters no matter what people in their surroundings do. Researchers of this study found that thresholds of social influence necessary to adopt vary a lot among individuals. Innovators come in with a constant rate that help induce small local adoption clusters of vulnerable users in far away areas of the network. Innovator and vulnerable adopters convince a large number of stable adopters convince a large number of stable adopters-this is what connects those local adoption cascades and give rise to global phenomena. Through it all, the immune population plays a strong control on the dynamics-they can dilute the system if there are a lot of them and even delay the evolution of any global pattern.

The ultimate conclusions of the study were that there only a small amount of people with a certain opinion, but if you can strategically convert these early adopters in a society, you can have more and more people joining any movement. Basically, the right people need to be the early adopters in order for marketing campaigns to manifest.



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