The article Modeling Relationship Strength on Online Social Networks examines the significance of relationship homophily through a social media lens by statistical modeling. According to Stacks and Michaelson, homophily measures the degree of similarity between people attitudinal and behavioral attributes (Stacks, & Michaelson, 2010, p. 45). The research attempts to enhance the modeling and measurement of social media interactions to gain knowledge of specific attributes and behaviors. The following will summarize the report findings which offer insights useful for organizations using social media to their advantage.
Online social networks are quickly becoming a dominant tool for organizations to pursue relationship opportunities. The popularity of use, along with the low cost of entry, combined with the potential reach of targeted customer’s makes social media an attractive channel for organizational relationship building. As Rawlins clearly pointed out in the article Prioritizing Stakeholders for Public Relations, not all stakeholders have the same interests and demands, therefore organizational response must be tailored to each independently (Rawlins, 2006). Hence, it is useful to model and measure social network activities in an attempt to identify and reach your intended audience more effectively.
The article posits that individuals with strong ties (e.g. close friends) are likely to exhibit greater similarity that those with weak ties (e.g. acquaintances), treating all relationships equally will produce unsatisfactory outcomes (Xiang & Rogati, n.d). Knowing social media is inclusive of all types of relationships, the objective is to identify the strength of relationships through measurement of social media data. The authors further explore the relationship strength formed through social media interactions and how these relationships form groups with varying degrees of connections. The purpose of defining relationship strength is to consider other interesting applications which use relationship strength to understand human behavior (Xiang & Rogati, n.d). Understanding and predicting stakeholder relationships offers organizations a competitive advantage in reaching their audience, understanding the needs of their audience, and meeting these needs.
Xiang and Rogati developed a model to automatically measure the strength of relationships through the use of statistical analysis comparing variables such as likes, posting on walls, reciprocating postings, tagging, and top friend status, all of which offer insights into the strength of a relationship. The model attempts to represent the intrinsic causality of social interactions via statistical dependencies (Xiang & Rogati, n.d). Understanding and measuring the strength of relationships through social media delivers organizational knowledge to more effectively reach target audiences with the right message at the right time.
When a systemic model of relationship measurement is implemented through the fast paced, ever changing social media platforms, organizations have a continuous-valued measure of relationship strength. Smart organizations use this knowledge to develop targeted marketing efforts and communication strategies that are tailored specifically for the intended stakeholder group, hereby meeting the needs of various stakeholders in the most effective manner to ensure outcomes are generated and business goals are met.
Rawlins, B. L. (2006). Prioritizing stakeholders for public relations. Institute for Public Relations.
Stacks, D. W., & Michaelson, D. (2010). A practitioner’s guide to public relations research, measurement and evaluation. New York, N.Y.] (222 East 46th Street: Business Expert Press.
Xiang, R., & Rogati, M. (n.d.). Modeling relationship strength in online social networks. Retrieved from http://snap.stanford.edu/nipsgraphs2009/papers/xiang-paper.pdf