The Science Of Social Media

I have been following Dan Zarella‘s postings for quite a while.  The actual science of social media debunks many the myths that have grown up around it.

The above is Dan’s The Science of Social Media presentation given to Harvard students.

And an article in the New York Times points out that the debate as to whether social media is an art or a science is raising some interesting facts:

“It turns out that the way information spreads online is often more complicated than viral transmission, in which one person passes a link to, say, a YouTube video directly to another person. As with political topics, people often wait until a number of friends or trusted sources have promoted an idea before promulgating it themselves.

The structure of a social network — for example, whether it is made up of close friends and colleagues or of like-minded strangers who follow Lady Gaga — can have more influence than the size of a group, researchers say. ”

While we are at it, here is a summary from Arik Hanson of social media trends that may surprise you:


– 75 percent of Brand ‘Likes’ on Facebook come from advertisements. (Mashable)
– More than 250 million people use Facebook Connect every month. (Facebook)
– College-aged kids (18-24) made up the fastest growing segment of users on Facebook in 2010. (
– Chicago was the fastest growing city on Facebook in terms of usage in 2010 (Houston was a close second). (
– During the average 20-minute period in 2010, there were: 1,5870,000 wall posts, 2,716,000 photos uploaded and 10,208,000 comments posted. (
– Indonesia has the second largest population on Facebook


– Since April, Twitter has gained 40 million users and a 62 percent increase in mobile use of the platform (Source: ClickZ)
– From December 2009 to December 2010, users with a biography listed on Twitter increased from 31 percent to 69 percent. (Pew)
– Friday at 4 p.m. ET: The most retweetable day/time of the week. (via Dan Zarella and HubSpot)
– 48%: The percentage of Twitter users that either never or rarely check Twitter. (The Next Web).


– The average American Internet user watches 30 minutes of video online per day [40 percent increase over 2009] (comScore) Compared to 5 hours of television per day
– 22 percent of Fortune 500 companies now have a public-facing blog that has at least one post in the past 12 months (comScore)
– 4 percent of adults on the Internet use location-based services (Pew Internet Research)
– Social networking site usage grew 88 percent among Internet users aged 55-64 between April 2009 and May 2010 (Pew Research)
– In 2009, social gamers bought $2.2 billion in virtual goods; Predicted to increase to $6 billion by 2013. (NPD Group)
– 75 percent: The percentage of U.S. iPad users that are interested in seeing videos within magazine ads on their iPad. (eMarketer via David Erickson)
– The change in social media use among Baby Boomers 55-64 rose from 9% in Dec. 2008 to 43% in Dec. 2010 ( via David Erickson)

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About thedigitalconsultant

Roger Smith is a retired international, digital consultant and former British Council Director of Online Operations within the East Asia region.
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