L2′s annual Innovation Forum will be held on November 6 & 7 this year at the Morgan Library. The two day, TED style forum will feature experts speaking to a variety of innovations in digital marketing, commerce, and social media. Below we highlight one of our forum speakers, Sinan Aral, who will give a talk on “Social Contagion.”

Sinan Aral is Assistant Professor of Information, Operations, and Management Sciences at the Leonard N. Stern School of Business at NYU. Much of his research focuses on measuring and managing how information diffusion in social networks affects worker productivity, consumer demand, and viral marketing. His work has been published in numerous journals including the Harvard Business Review, Sloan Management Review, and the American Journal of Sociology. Aral received his Ph.D from the MIT Sloan School of Management and was previously a Fulbright Scholar.

Recently Aral published a piece of research in Science  — “Identifying Influential and Susceptible Members of Social Networks” — where he developed a method to study and identify influence in social networks. Influence was measured by whether a message actually prompted users to take action — in this case, whether someone would download a movie review app after one of his friends messaged him. The study also required that participants message random members of their network to prevent them from selecting like minded individuals (i.e. movie buffs) and ensure that the action taken by users was caused by the messaging itself and not due to any preexisting biases.

“The experiment was conducted over a 44-day period during which 7,730 product adopters sent 41,686 automated notifications to randomly chosen targets amongst their 1.3 million friends,” reads the report. The study identified “influentials” — those who are likely to influence product adoption among their peers — as well as “susceptibles” — peers that are likely to respond positively to influence. Results show that men are more influential than women, however women influence men more than they influence other women, younger users are more susceptible to influence than older users, and married individuals are the least susceptible to influence.

Another interesting finding was that influential individuals themselves are less susceptible to influence than noninfluential individuals and that they cluster in the network while susceptible individuals do not. This leads Aral to write in the study that his findings are consistent with theories that “change is driven not by influentials, but by susceptibles. However, more robust studies are necessary to confirm this finding.”

To register for the L2 Innovation Forum, click on the link below. Registration is complimentary for L2 Members.


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