There’s news coming out of the Said Business School of Oxford University about a study of product adoption with Facebook. The research is said to document a herding instinct that can turn on and off. The research was conducted using 2007 data from Facebook users adoption of Facebook Apps for their Facebook pages.
Unfortunately, the announcement seems muddled and the senior researcher isn’t sure if his observations are unique to the online world or if they have broader applicability. According to the embargoed press release:
“Dr Felix Reed-Tsochas, from Oxford University’s Institute for Science, Innovation and Society at Saïd Business School, said: ‘Our analysis reveals a very interesting new finding. Users only appear to be influenced by the choices of other users above a certain level of popularity, and at that point popularity drives future popularity. Below this threshold, the effects of social influence are imperceptible. In its simplest form this would be ‘Y = X(2)’ a parabola which would seem to fit the data pretty well, but I need to know more.
Because popularity seems to depend mainly on the choices of other users in the community, rather than intrinsic characteristics of the applications themselves, it does not appear possible to predict which applications will succeed and which will fail ahead of time.’
This is all well and good but this is social NETWORKING after all, and there seems to be a missing variable, which is the network. We know from Metcalf’s Law that the value of a network is directly proportional to the square of the number of connected users of the system. Metcalf’s Law would possibly be a reason for — and a strong influence on — adoption.
If you see lots of people you know adopting a new application for networking that observation makes the application more valuable but it doesn’t necessarily signal any new finding. It is the same finding that made the telephone valuable but because adoption happens on line it can compress what took the phone system decades to accomplish into a few hours.
I’d like to know more about this and if you are like me, the press release provides these contacts.
For more information to speak with Dr Felix Reed-Tsochas, please contact the press officeat Saïd Business School:
Clare Fisher, Head of Public Relations,
Direct telephone +44 (0) 1865 422713/288855 Mobile +44 (0) 7912 771090 firstname.lastname@example.org
Josie Powell, Public Relations Coordinator,
University of Oxford Press Office on +44(0)1865 280534 or email email@example.com