The Blog of Babel

This site sits on the crossroads of Languages, Linguistics, Social Media Market Engagement, Marketing Strategy, Innovation Strategy, Creativity Theory, Ancient Mythology & Egyptology. Its a very small crossroads in the middle of cyberspace - so stay for a while - pull up a chair and coffee. 

Mean Girls & Sociometry (The Study of Popularity in Social Media)

Sociometry

This field is very interesting, you could call it - the study of social relationships, the study of social connections or even the study of popularity.

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In my work, I've used these theories and practices to solve the question: How do you measure popularity (which is much more tricky than it seems) . In Sociology, there has been many attempts to quantify social popularity - but first, how do you define it?

 

How do you define popularity?

Perceived Popularity

This type of popularity is made most famous by the movie Mean Girls. Famously in the movie, a click of mean popular girls control a high school as social dictators. Studies show, however, that this type of popularity is only perceived and does not always correlate to like-ability or with the ability to positively influence others. In the movie, the downfall of the "mean girls"  demonstrates the true irony of their 'conventional high school popularity'.

Sociometric Popularity

On the other hand, sociometric popularity refers to individuals who are socially agreeable and well liked. Individuals who are sociometrically popular are usually outgoing and good at building trust amongst individuals. Importantly, these individuals may not always be identified as "popular" - in the sense of being "famous" (or in the Mean Girls sense of "infamous").

 

Which popular do social marketers want?

I would argue that social strategists should focus on the second type - sociometric popularity - true like ability. In digital marketing we have to be ok with shedding the mantel of  "fame" or perceived popularity, for true popularity - which is not always initially as visible.

This means a Facebook page with 1,000 likes (sociometric popularity) should not always be jealous of Facebook pages with 10+ million likes (perceived popularity) - numbers don't always point to true popularity - as we have seen in the movie Mean Girls . 

Instead, focus on building that small ardent fan base. If you have built trust and rapport with your social followers - your ability to truly engage, persuade and reach has exponentially grown. 

Want to learn more about this subject - the book Networks, Crowds and Markets is a very thorough (although very technical and highly text-booky) overview of this entire subject. You should give it a look-see if you're interested.