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Weak Ties, Social Networks, And Your Brand

Intuitively, one would think that our strong ties (our close friends, people we really know) are typically the best sources for new information and ideas. On the contrary, it has been suggested that in fact, our weak ties (acquaintances) are the bridges to the new ideas and information we thought we would receive from out strong ties. These bridges, though weak ties, connect us with entirely new networks. This suggestion has been published by Mark Granovetter in his sociology paper, “The Strength of Weak Ties.”

Imagine those weak ties with whom you do not share any mutual friends. That person on the other end of the bridge is connected to a network completely unknown to you, filled with different job opportunities, communities, information of a different kind, and new ideas. Through this weak link, it is possible for you reap the benefits of this new source of information.

A campaign with branded content is always so difficult to get right, but also to get enough outreach. The ones that are designed to reach bridging weak ties, however, have seen success. Take, for example, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge which went extremely viral on Facebook during the summer of 2014. This campaign reached across bridging weak ties, while still engaging those strongly invested in the ALS cure. Hundreds of thousands of people who were weakly tied, or whose ties were absent, to those affected by ALS became aware of the disease, partook in the campaign, donated money, and formed a link to the ALS Association.

The article simply sums of how a social network works by outlining the nodes of a network (people, profiles), ties that can be weak, strong, or absent (relationships between nodes), and the mapping of these connections in to a network graph. The article emphasizes Facebook for it is a prime example of social networks. By explaining these terms into relatable ones, the reader now knows enough to understand the concept of the “strength of the weak tie.”


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September 2014