This study, conducted by Sinan Aral and Dylan Walker at NYU, was designed to quantify the power of your peers on a social network. The bait was a movie-rating app for Facebook. Over the course of the study, 42,000 messages about the app were sent out to the friends of more than 7,000 users. The messages went out to a random selection of friends to avoid what the researchers call ‘homophily bias.” That’s the concept that we tend to hang with people who have similar interests, so if I like an app, my friends will like it too because we share that interest, not because I influenced them.
Still with me? Good, because there’s a gold nugget at the bottom of this river.
Here’s what the study reveal:
- Men are 49% more influential than women.
- Women are 12% less susceptible to influence than men
- Women exert 46% more influence over men than over other women.
- Influence also increases with age, with people over 31 being 51 per cent better at convincing their friends than those under 18.
So, women did a good job influencing men. . . which isn’t at all surprising. Have you seen the Carl’s Jr. commercials? But, the fact that men are more influential overall is pretty big seeing as how many marketers hire mommy bloggers to champion their products. Sounds like they’d be better off getting a hunky guy to recommend diapers and cosmetics.
Now, here’s something really crazy. Relationship status matters!
- Single individuals are 113% more influential than those in a relationship.
- Susceptibility rises with increasing relationship commitment – up until you get married.
The folks behind the study say that this might be happening because we feel socially obligated to respond to your partner’s friends and family prior to marriage. After marriage, says Aral, “all bets are off.”
Overall, it’s an interesting data set. I’d like to see a typically female brand test this by having men send out social media recommendations instead of women. From where I’m standing, I’d certainly take note if that happened, and maybe that’s why it works, not because I trust men more but if a guy stands up for diapers, he must really love them!
What do you think? Are you swayed more by recommendations from your male or female friends? And how big a role does gender play when you put together your marketing campaign?