Identifying Influential and Susceptible Members of Social Networks
Identifying social influence in networks is critical to understanding how behaviors spread. We present a method that uses in vivo randomized experimentation to identify influence and susceptibility in networks while avoiding the biases inherent in traditional estimates of social contagion. Estimation in a representative sample of 1.3 million Facebook users showed that younger users are more susceptible to influence than older users, men are more influential than women, women influence men more than they influence other women, and married individuals are the least susceptible to influence in the decision to adopt the product offered. Analysis of influence and susceptibility together with network structure revealed that influential individuals are less susceptible to influence than noninfluential individuals and that they cluster in the network while susceptible individuals do not, which suggests that influential people with influential friends may be instrumental in the spread of this product in the network.