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"Pathways act as an essential guiding force on this planet: on every scale of life, from microscopic cells to herds of elephants, creatures can be found relying on trails to reduce an overwhelming array of options to a single expeditious route. Without trails, we would be lost. …the soul of a trail –its trail-ness – is not bound up in dirt and rocks; it is immaterial, evanescence, as fluid as air. The essence lies in its function: how it continuously evolves to serve the needs of its users." – Robert Moor
This chapter addresses questions such as, “How should your social media be connected to one another? To organizational departments? To executives?” The networks that result may be the most important, yet invisible, part of a successful social media strategy.
Three basic networks emerge from the discussion of nodes, hubs, hinges and path length: centralized, decentralized and distributed. There are tradeoffs associated with each type of network. For example, a centralized network maximizes command & control, but a potential downside is that it collapses if the “command node” goes down.
The Connections Matrix underscores the key decision points for the social media strategist. On one axis are the number of links in the network, from few to many; on the other axis are the intensity of the connections, from weak to strong. Four strategies emerge: Simplicity, Depth, Breadth and Abundance; each has potential costs and benefits, and different skills and commitments that are required.
Judging the effectiveness of your connection strategy should be based on a qualitative judgment about whether the strategy serves your strategic purpose and the ease of reaching your “bullseye nodes.”
- Understanding Connectivity
- Path length
- Connection Principles
- The pattern of connections (network) is more important than the strength of individual components (nodes)
- There are tradeoffs associated with every type of network
- Networks have both structural and emergent properties
- Connections Matrix
- Crafting Network Strategy
- Identify a broad range of nodes and links
- Map out and evaluate your existing network structure
- Mix and match your connection strategies
- Develop the skills and commitments to match your connection strategies
- Judge effectiveness based on the strategy employed and the ease of reaching “bullseye nodes”
Chapter Deep Dive Study Questions
These exercises are designed to enhance your understanding of the chapter’s key ideas, principles and approaches.
Figure 9.2 contains three different types of networks. Select two you’ve personally participated in at work, school, or in your social life. a) Create a chart with two columns and two rows. Label the first column, “Network 1,” and the second column, “Network 2.” Label the first row, “Advantages,” and the second row, “Disadvantages.” b) Reflect on your experiences with each network. Based on your experiences, complete the chart by indicating the advantages and disadvantages of each type of network. c) Based on your chart, summarize when it makes the most (and least) sense to use these two networks.
Construct a matrix like the one in Table 9.2. a) In each quadrant, indicate 3 keys to successfully executing the particular strategy. b) Provide your rationale.
List five social media platforms you are most familiar with. a) Identify the bullseye nodes for each platform. b) Describe your challenges in locating the bullseye nodes for each platform. c) Based on this exercise, describe three lessons learned about the proper use of bullseye nodes. Provide your rationale.
[a] Is representative of a "many & rich is more' approach; there are many user relationships to maintain and those relationships are strong in nature.
[q] Bullseye Node
[a] The target node that you designate for your network. For example, it could be the "Buy" button or "Apply Here" button on your website. Or, it could be "Tap to view products" or "Shop now" on a social media platform.
[q] Centralized Network
[a] A network of connections with minimal hubs, hinge points and short path links. It maximizes a "command and control" orientation.
[q] Connections Matrix
[a] A strategic thinking tool that underscores key decision points for the social media strategist: the horizontal axis measures the raw number of links in the network, from few to many; the vertical axis measures the intensity of connections that emerge from those links, from weak to strong.
[q] Decentralized Network
[a] A network of connections that has many hubs and hinge points as well as a potentially large number of path links.
[q] Depth Strategy
[a] Is representative of a "quality trumps quantity" approach; there are few user relationships to maintain but those relationships are strong in nature.
[q] Distributed Network
[a] A network of connections where many or all of the nodes are connected to each other.
[a] Nodes that connect otherwise separate groups in the network. Hinges are the linchpins of the network. If this node goes down, then two groups will not be able to connect.
[a] Nodes that play a role in more than one network.
[a] Points of reference in a network. The most obvious node in the social media world include social media sites, websites, and the email system. Some less obvious nodes include traditional media (e.g., print, kiosks, menus, advertisements) and partner advertisements.
[a] A direct path between two nodes. The more links in the chain, the greater the path length and likelihood of distortion.
[q] Path length
[a] The number of links that separate any nodes in the system. The more links in the chain, the greater the path length and likelihood of distortion.
[q] Reach Strategy
[a] Is representative of a "quantity trumps quality" approach; there are many user connections but the relationships are weak in nature.
[q] Simplicity Strategy
[a] Is representative of a "less & lean is more" approach: there are few user connections to maintain and those relationships are weak in nature.
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Question 1 of 10
What best defines a bullseye node?Correct
Question 2 of 10
Questions such as, “Does the menu at your favorite diner publicize its website and social media venues?” address what connections concept?Correct
Question 3 of 10
_____ emerge(s) from how the nodes and links are connected on a macro-level.Correct
Question 4 of 10
Path length represents the number of links that separate any two nodes in a system. The more links in the chain, ____Correct
Question 5 of 10
The pattern of connections (network) is more important than the strength of the individual components (nodes).Correct
Question 6 of 10
A ____ network has many hubs and hinge points as well as a potentially large number of path links.Correct
Question 7 of 10
Potential advantages of a ____ network are that it encourages quick decision-making and fosters quick implementation of the central node decision.Correct
Question 8 of 10
A decentralized network is always superior to a centralized network.Correct
Question 9 of 10
A ____ strategy would make a lot of sense for someone who aspires to be a public figure, like a politician or pop star. These people desire wide exposure, but not deep connections.Correct
Question 10 of 10
For those employing a ___ strategy, the raw numbers matter less than the quality of the relationships, richness of interaction and the types of insights garnered.Correct