Companies analyse social network traffic to target key influencers

Some companies are applying business analytics to social network traffic to identify the influencers and decision makers in complex organisations.

Some companies are applying business analytics to social network traffic to identify the influencers and decision makers in complex organisations.

Syndio Social, a start-up by a former student at Northwestern University, analyses data from e-mail and project records to build a picture of who communicates with whom in a company, MIT's Technology Review reports. Internal communications usually contain enough "digital traces" to generate an clear picture of working relationships across a large company, it said.

Syndio Social supplemented this with employee surveys and academic insights about how networks work. It then maps those relationships to help managers work out how to use what it knows about the identified key influencers. "It's especially useful in larger corporations, where relationships are more difficult to map," Technology Review said.

The former student, Zachary Johnson, developed the idea when he used the principles to promote a friend's music. He identified influential students at six universities then asked them to promote the friend's music on Facebook. The record rose to sixth in the US Billboard charts in July 2010.

Johnson told the magazine the system also worked with companies in mergers and acquisitions. "It's making sure the right folks who hold things together aren't fired in the merger," he said. "If you have a company that has three people who tie things together, even if they aren't the highest performers in numbers, you want to make sure they stay."


Computer Weekly says: The idea is based on Tipping Point author Malcolm Gladwell's contention that some people are more important than others in influencing others' behaviour, and is old hat to police and intelligence investigators.

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