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Power in the Social Network

http://www.mediabadger.com/2010/08/is-social-media-making-people-hyper-competitive/

We are living in a society where keeping up with the current trend determines where you stand among your friends and acquaintances. Social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, is becoming THE way you connect with friends and keep up with the trend. Some people see this as a competition and some social media sites such as Foursquare use this competitive nature of people to get as many “eyeballs” as possible.

Competition is everywhere – you care about what other people wear, drive and what kinds of people they hang out with. This applies to social media as well. People are obsessed with how many followers you have on Twitter and how many “likes” you get on a photo you uploaded on Facebook. Foursquare even has specific levels you can reach by checking into many places to get different badges. Facebook also has many games such as Tetris Battle that you can play with your friends and reach higher levels to compete with people on Facebook. According to the article, “Is Social Media Making People Hyper-Competitive?” the success of future social media services depends on how they use our competitive nature to attract more people.

What are we competing for? In a network point of view, power in networks is what we are constantly competing for in social media websites. If you hold a powerful position in a network, people will depend on you to gain access to different networks because you are most likely be the center of different networks.

Figure A

Figure A shows that B holds the most powerful position because it is in the middle of different parts of network. It connects A and C who can only depend on B to connect to other networks and it is also connected to D. In addition, B has the highest degree in this network.  This social network is a simple version of the larger social networks that exist on Facebook or Twitter. People are trying to become B, by making their degrees higher, and by staying in between different networks, gaining access to many different groups of friends. People determine how powerful you are in a network by looking at how many friends you have from different networks, how many “likes” or followers you might have. No one wants to be A or C, therefore they stay active on social network by connecting with more people, to become B.

As the article suggests, social media channels that are able to drive our competitive nature will appeal to many people and to potential buyers or marketers. It is interesting to imagine ourselves as game pieces, as the author suggests, being played by the social media channels, which are driving our competitive nature to compete with each other.

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