FreshNetworks Blog: Top five posts in February

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Five/cinq Dollars
Image by Xavier Lozano via Flickr

At FreshNetworks, we aim to bring you the best posts in social media, online communities and customer engagement online. In case you missed them, find below our top five posts in February.

1.The Economist on Social Networking

At the end of January, the Economist published a special report on on social networking.Their special report on A World of Connections, provided an excellent overview of the current state of social media for those still trying to get to grips with it. You can download a free pdf of the report here. Or check out our summary of key highlights in this post.

2. Vodafone, Twitter and the challenges of managing your brand in social medial

An interesting afternoon at Vodafone in the UK saw a tweet on their official @VodafoneUK account that was clearly not the kind of message the brand intended to share with its customers. You can read about what was actually said elsewhere. But, in addition to some rather questionable grammar, the message was offensive and not appropriate for a brand’s Twitter stream at all. It was clearly the work of either a hack, a case of very bad judgement, a disgruntled employee or an inappropriate sharing of passwords.

Putting aside any short-term issues and negative publicity, there are a couple of things we can learn from what happened to Vodafone. First in how you should manage your use of social media as a brand, and second in how you should respond when things go very wrong.

3. Facebook’s redesign shows how important search is for social networks

In February, Facebook rolled-out a redesigned homepage and navigation to its users. There four main areas where the site had changed: improved use of space n the main panel, made messaging easier, put notifications together in one place, and moved the search box. It is the last of these improvements that is, perhaps, the most significant. Facebook did more than just move the search box, they increased its importance on the site and showed the importance of search for Facebook, and indeed all social networks and online communities.

Facebook is huge, but to many of us feels very small. We mainly access content through feeds, messages and notifications. Training us as users to make search an integral part of our Facebook experience will make it a much bigger and more useful tool for us all.

4. The Matthew Effect – linking and how things become viral in social media

The Matthew Effect dates from the 1960s. It is the theory, first expressed by sociologist Robert K. Merton, that those who possess power and economic or social capital can leverage those resources to gain more power or capital. Put simply: the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. In this post we discuss a great presentation and video from Torsten Henning Hensel that explores the power of linking online and how the Matthew Effect can help us to understand how things become viral and spread online and in social media.

5. Russia: the fourth largest social networking market in Europe

In a post from almost a year ago we look at data showing that Russia was the fourth largest market in Europe for social networking behind the UK, Germany and France.

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The Matthew Effect - linking and how things become viral in social media

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Symbol of St Matthew
Image by Lawrence OP via Flickr

The Matthew Effect dates from the 1960s. It is the theory, first expressed by sociologist Robert K. Merton, that those who possess power and economic or social capital can leverage those resources to gain more power or capital. Put simply: the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Or as it is expressed in the Gospel of St Matthew, from which the effect takes its name:

For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.

So what does this have to do with social media? Well this great presentation and video from Torsten Henning Hensel explores the power of linking online and how the Matthew Effect can help us to understand how things become viral and spread online and in social media. As Hensel explains:

Thanks to the Matthew Effect, the already famous get more famous, the often quoted get more and more quoted…

It is easy to see how this transfers into social media - the more something is spread the more it will be spread even further by word of mouth. Imagine two pieces of content of equal quality, interest or importance. It is the content that has been linked to, retweeted, forwarded or otherwise referred to that is more likely to become viral. For Hensel, “Social media is a linking machine” and the more links you can get to a piece of content the more likely that content is to become viral when compared to a similar piece.

This is an interesting theory and a great attempt to deconstruct and to understand what makes something go viral. The presentation is Required Reading this week at FreshNetworks as it reminds us all of the importance of links.

Matthew Effect: The Power of Links
View more presentations from Torsten Henning Hensel.
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