What is Social Graph?

What is a social graph? I bet many people do not know the answer to that question; I certainly did not without looking into it.  Google says that a social graph is a representation of the interconnection of relationships in an online social network.  Wikipedia says that social graphs are graphs that depict personal relations of internet users.  Clearly the main thing in both definitions is relationships among people on the internet. A great source about social graphs can be found on the website called Freshminds.  The article is titled What the Social Graph is and Why it Matters to Brands.  In this article, it states that the concept of social graphs has been around for quite sometime; it mentions that the idea began in the 1960s and was focused on drawing representations of the connections between people.  Although this was before the internet, and obviously before social media, people were still interested in analyzing the connections between people.  The relationship between social graphs and social media is very interesting.  By companies using social graphs to analyze the relationships between their users, they are able to determine users preferences and how and what people share.  A while ago, Facebook launched a new aspect: “Introducing Graph Search.”  This became the new search bar on Facebook.  Instead of just being able to search for friends names or other users, people can now search for things like “restaurants my friends have been to in New York City.”  Facebook will analyze the social graph of your friends and see who has tagged themselves at a restaurant in NYC and bring up that information for you.  “Pictures of John Smith,” “movies my friends liked,” “places my friends have been,” are among the many searchable topics available through Facebook’s social graph search.  The relationship between social graphs and the economy is quite interesting.  Although, it may not seem like there is an evident relationship between the two, there certainly is.  According to the article from Freshminds, the more a social media company knows about the social graphs of its users, “the more they can tailor and personalize” the social media experience for each user.  This allows the company to monetize the network.  Facebook users bring about $1.20 a year per person.  The more a company knows about its users through social graphs, the more they can enhance the users’ experience to earn more money per person.  This is in fact how social graphs relate to our lives.  As users, we should know that what we are sharing, liking, uploading, and saying is being stored and recorded in some way to become social graphs.  Freshminds says that Facebook knows who your friends are, knows what events you and your friends go to, knows what pictures you and your friends are in, knows our shared likes, and so much more.  In the article New Kids on the Block: Exploring the Google+ Social Graph, there is a great analysis of Google+ users.  A few very interesting things that the social graph revealed was that single male users were the most common to share their phone numbers and more “personal data,” and people who share their phone numbers are called “tel-users” because they are associated with risk taking by offering that amount of information on a social site.  What is personal to one person may not be to another.  Everyone has their own definition of “personal” information, and therefore have the ability to share what they choose.  With the analysis of connections, we as users can be provided with a more enhanced and personalized experience with personalized advertisements that are a result of our connections with others.  Social graphs are used to tailor experiences more specifically for users to increase the success of social networks through what they know about customer relationships.  The analysis of social graphs is likely to increase in the future, especially if the idea has been around since the 1960s and has come such a long way since then.  Referencing again the article form Freshminds, it states the importance of social graphs for brands.  It mentions how Amazon can us a social graph from a source like Facebook to help users choose products for their friends birthdays based on their connections.  The creativity of the companies to use social graphs is what determines how well they will succeed with the use of social graphs.  They can enhance customer preferences, increase the economic benefit to sites, and generate overall success for social media companies.

For more about the article from Freshminds, please see http://www.freshminds.net/2012/02/what-the-social-graph-is-and-why-it-matters-to-brands/.

“You are what you share” (CL).



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