— blending the mix

Possibly the best Facebook friend mapping tool to date

I seem to be a on a roll with the Facebook stuff at the moment, but this little gem from Nexus would get even Rodney and Nick excited (if they aren’t already!)

The Social Graph – a quick refresher

We have talked for some time about the “social graph” – this sometimes mythical explanation of an individual’s profile in a social network. The cynics amongst you may consider it Social CRM – and if we weren’t now approaching customers as people rather than numbers (as we used to!), you’d probably not be far wrong.

Facebook has always been an exciting tool to help us understand this social graph (you might argue that the structure of Facebook means that the phrase derived from Facebook). Applications are/were one of the best ways to understand the complexity, strength, depth and reach of an individual’s presence in Facebook.

When someone adds an application in Facebook, we are privy to a whole host of information about that person and their network that is in the words of the olden-days “gold dust”.

What this access does is helps us understand the person behind the profile. As the video below shows (the bomb gets dropped at 1m 35s to be precise!), customers are no longer a set of general demographics.

 

But if the social graph helps us understand WHO the customer is rather than WHAT they are – and approach them appropriately – one thing we are still struggling with (and pals Tim and Matt are making a good stab at doing), is understanding within these social graphs, just WHO are the influencers. Who SHOULD we be talking to?

Network Influence

I’ve been working with Influencer Mapping for over 3 years, and whilst I will be the first to admit I don’t really understand how it works, I know what to do with the information when I get it. Sometimes though, this can be timely and expensive and even unreliable. I think Tim and Matt would be the first to admit that DIY influencer mapping is tricky at best.

Tying all this up with Facebook though is a bit trickier. As a closed network, we have never really been able to understand who the most influential people (not the most popular) are in any given network – until Nexus launched the tool which created the map below:

friend map

So, it’s a “standard” network distribution map, but this has come from Facebook – one of the first to be exportable. You have to add the application (as you did with Touchgraph some time ago!) but you can then play with the results to your heart’s content here – outside of Facebook.

Nice, but not really THAT clever Paul…

And in a way, you are right – what good is this to anyone?

What if you had a Facebook Page for your brand or client though…what if you could add the Nexus graphing application to your Page…what if you could then map out and cluster the people who were fans of your Page…and you could also identify the people with the most common connections…or those who had the most in common…suddenly you are able to look at your audience in an entirely different way…and put more of your focus on developing relationships with the people who have the potential to be big advocates…rather than those who may simply be in it for the freebie you were giving away…

Assuming that the graphing tool can be ported over to Facebook Pages, we could have ourselves a very useful new planning tool.


6 comments
  1. Mat Morrison says: July 23, 200911:07 am

    Interesting stuff. I did a little work on charting Facebook groups back in late 2007/early 2008.

    It wasn’t easy to do back then, and it’s become next to impossible now. Why – and what makes the Nexus thing work?

    Well dealing with the nexus question — the Facebook API lets you grab friends (and relationships between those friends) for the authenticated user and only the authenticated user. It’s actually quite easy to do – although I’d agree that the Nexus tool does it nicely, conceptually, it’s not much of a step on from Jeffrey Heer and Danah Boyd’s Vizster, and practically speaking, the data set is much smaller.

    That means that you can see YOUR egonet (your 1st degree network, and relationships between members of that network), and I can see mine — but we can’t see each others’ unless we trade passwords (you go first.)

    The brute force methods I used were much clunkier but ultimately more powerful — avoiding the Facebook API, the tools I used grabbed the UIDs of each fan, then grabbed the UIDs of each of their friends. This generated data up to 2nd degree networks quite easily, and up to 3rd degree networks (if the computer had enough memory, processing power, and available disk space.)

    A quick note: this is totally against Facebook’s ToS. I shouldn’t really have been doing this. In theory the ToS are there to protect your privacy, but the way *I* see it, it’s really there to protect Facebook’s IP — which amounts to “private data supplied by its users.” It’s ethically grey, but I was almost certainly in the wrong.

    What has changed? Well — the way that Facebook displays friends (in a new AJAXy table) for one thing. This can probably be circumvented. But it’s much harder to do than it was.

    Another thing that’s beginning to change: apart from MI6 spouses many/some Facebook users are getting more security conscious, and are less likely to expose their social graphs outside their friend network (actually, this isn’t happening as fast as it should!)

    But here’s the big thing: Facebook now limits the listings of fans (or friends or members) to 500. That’s it. That barely scrapes even the most half-hearted commercially-focused group or page.

    Which means (I think) that we’re borked.

  2. Mat Morrison says: July 23, 20096:07 am

    Interesting stuff. I did a little work on charting Facebook groups back in late 2007/early 2008.

    It wasn’t easy to do back then, and it’s become next to impossible now. Why – and what makes the Nexus thing work?

    Well dealing with the nexus question — the Facebook API lets you grab friends (and relationships between those friends) for the authenticated user and only the authenticated user. It’s actually quite easy to do – although I’d agree that the Nexus tool does it nicely, conceptually, it’s not much of a step on from Jeffrey Heer and Danah Boyd’s Vizster, and practically speaking, the data set is much smaller.

    That means that you can see YOUR egonet (your 1st degree network, and relationships between members of that network), and I can see mine — but we can’t see each others’ unless we trade passwords (you go first.)

    The brute force methods I used were much clunkier but ultimately more powerful — avoiding the Facebook API, the tools I used grabbed the UIDs of each fan, then grabbed the UIDs of each of their friends. This generated data up to 2nd degree networks quite easily, and up to 3rd degree networks (if the computer had enough memory, processing power, and available disk space.)

    A quick note: this is totally against Facebook’s ToS. I shouldn’t really have been doing this. In theory the ToS are there to protect your privacy, but the way *I* see it, it’s really there to protect Facebook’s IP — which amounts to “private data supplied by its users.” It’s ethically grey, but I was almost certainly in the wrong.

    What has changed? Well — the way that Facebook displays friends (in a new AJAXy table) for one thing. This can probably be circumvented. But it’s much harder to do than it was.

    Another thing that’s beginning to change: apart from MI6 spouses many/some Facebook users are getting more security conscious, and are less likely to expose their social graphs outside their friend network (actually, this isn’t happening as fast as it should!)

    But here’s the big thing: Facebook now limits the listings of fans (or friends or members) to 500. That’s it. That barely scrapes even the most half-hearted commercially-focused group or page.

    Which means (I think) that we’re borked.

  3. Tim Hoang says: July 23, 200911:17 am

    Top post Paul. There’s so much stuff to read, and people just keep on suggesting more.

    With regards to the DIY approach, we’ve got a tool which crawls the web looking for links (in similar appraoch to search engines). It’s not perfect by any means but as with anything it is how we interpret it. Mat’s working on using OPML files to see whether this is much more accurate.

    I think the strength in network analysis might not be in straight comms but with communities. I don’t work with communities, barring the odd Facebook page/ group (which has no where the same level of engagement as say a forum)but identifying brokers, bridges, etc is key in getting messages to to groups.

  4. Tim Hoang says: July 23, 20096:17 am

    Top post Paul. There’s so much stuff to read, and people just keep on suggesting more.

    With regards to the DIY approach, we’ve got a tool which crawls the web looking for links (in similar appraoch to search engines). It’s not perfect by any means but as with anything it is how we interpret it. Mat’s working on using OPML files to see whether this is much more accurate.

    I think the strength in network analysis might not be in straight comms but with communities. I don’t work with communities, barring the odd Facebook page/ group (which has no where the same level of engagement as say a forum)but identifying brokers, bridges, etc is key in getting messages to to groups.

  5. Anonymous says: July 23, 20091:26 pm

    @Tim – I know what you mean mate. Your post had some great links in which has kept me up late at night trying to get my head around.

    As a non-scientific type, whilst this is all hugely interesting, I fear I need to go back to Comprehensive and re-visit some of my maths to understand all of it!

    That said, I totally agree with you angle (think I alluded to it in my comment on your blog). It is perhaps not the person at the heart of the community that has the potential to be the most “viral” (if that doesn’t get me struck down by the social media gods).

    Mat’s work on the opml is really interesting – just a shame there aren’t more people taking part in it – worth putting something out there? Mat, could you handle more people at this stage of your research?

    @Mat – thanks for the Vizster link. Agreed, Nexus is not that much different to it. Looking at it though, the mouse-overs of the connectivity and linkage are really useful – saves a lot of hassle.

    Crap news on the Pages business though – assuming you mean that you can only access 500 of the Page’s members. I can partly understand why though. I recall reading some research about how one (with bigger brains than I) could map an individual’s network from their public display listing which appears in their public search listings, by simply refreshing the page. The random friends that appear – refreshed enough times, allows you to see their whole network.

    With Pages also being public content, I guess the same is true.

    As for the Facebook protected IP – couldn’t agree more. They want to keep the data IN – that’s where the money/value is!

  6. paul.fabretti says: July 23, 20098:26 am

    @Tim – I know what you mean mate. Your post had some great links in which has kept me up late at night trying to get my head around.

    As a non-scientific type, whilst this is all hugely interesting, I fear I need to go back to Comprehensive and re-visit some of my maths to understand all of it!

    That said, I totally agree with you angle (think I alluded to it in my comment on your blog). It is perhaps not the person at the heart of the community that has the potential to be the most “viral” (if that doesn’t get me struck down by the social media gods).

    Mat’s work on the opml is really interesting – just a shame there aren’t more people taking part in it – worth putting something out there? Mat, could you handle more people at this stage of your research?

    @Mat – thanks for the Vizster link. Agreed, Nexus is not that much different to it. Looking at it though, the mouse-overs of the connectivity and linkage are really useful – saves a lot of hassle.

    Crap news on the Pages business though – assuming you mean that you can only access 500 of the Page’s members. I can partly understand why though. I recall reading some research about how one (with bigger brains than I) could map an individual’s network from their public display listing which appears in their public search listings, by simply refreshing the page. The random friends that appear – refreshed enough times, allows you to see their whole network.

    With Pages also being public content, I guess the same is true.

    As for the Facebook protected IP – couldn’t agree more. They want to keep the data IN – that’s where the money/value is!

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