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Who Has the Most Sway on Facebook?
Date:6/21/2012

By Randy Dotinga
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, June 21 (HealthDay News) -- A new study of Facebook provides possible hints as to the identity of people who get listened to the most when voicing opinions or pitching products and who's most likely to do the listening.

The value of the research is limited since it only looks at one product. Still, the study suggests that men are major influencers, while younger users and married people are the least susceptible to suggestion.

The researchers sought to figure out who influences whom by tracking 1.3 million Facebook users. Specifically, they followed 7,730 users who tried out an application that allowed them to rate movies and actors, among other Hollywood-related subjects.

Whenever a user rated something, Facebook randomly sent messages to that user's Facebook friends disclosing the rating and including information about the application.

The researchers were able to track who had the most success when it came to convincing others to try the application and who was most likely to be convinced. However, not many people seemed interested in the application: The notifications went out to almost 42,000 Facebook friends, but only 976 actually tried it out.

Among the findings: Women have more influence on men than other women, and people 30 and older are more influential than younger people.

Study lead author Sinan Aral -- who has been working with Facebook -- cautioned that the research only looked at the one product. It will take more study to gain a wider picture.

The ultimate plan is to figure out how to best determine which people should get pitches, said Aral, an assistant professor of information, operations and management science at New York University.

"These types of targeted advertising will be based on whether you're a likely candidate to be influential considering the type of produc
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