Malcolm Gladwell presented a theory related to a successful spreading of information, referred to as “The Law of the Few“, stating that a rapid growth in a certain area usually starts with some extraordinary people: mavens, connectors, and salesmen.
- Mavens: information specialists → corresponding experts in online social networks
- Connectors: those who know a large number of people → corresponding influencers in online social networks
- Salesmen: persuaders → there has been little effort for research!
While information diffusion mechanisms and network topology have been the focus of attention in identifying influencers in previous studies, it is not clear whether such influencers indeed participate actively in information diffusion processes. Furthermore, it is difficult to assume that a person simply exposed to a large amount of information can actually promote information diffusion because s/he may suffer from information overload, having to sift through a large number of messages from the connected people.
We introduce a new concept of dedicators, which is similar to that of salesmen in the “The Law of the Few” theory, since they would be dedicated to taking an active role of actually getting people engaged in an issue/topic and leading them to take a certain action related to the issue. Basically, our approach is to analyze conversations that have actually been carried out by people in order to observe the actual flow of information, ideas, and issues among them. Online conversations are important for our purpose because they promote information exchange and social awareness of certain issues.
When measuring dedication level for a user, we proposed 4 types of factors:
- Volume: It measures depth and breadth of dedication
- Engagement: It shows how actively a user was engaged with his/her conversational partner
- Personal Tendency: It indicates the overall characteristics of a user’s conversational behaviors toward a topic
- Topic Importance: It represents how much a user is interested in a certain topic
In order to distinguish dedicators we propose from influencers as defined in previous researches, we compare the dedicators with in-degree influencers for certain topic areas. Our findings are:
- There is no correlation between the in-degree level and the dedication level
- It confirms that popularity measure often used as a basis for detecting influencers is completely different from the way dedicators are identified as proposed.
- As in the Figure, it indicates that the in-degree influence measure represented by the red line makes the least contribution toward making dedicators because the top dedicators tend not to have strong values for the influence measure.
- Users with high in-degree influence tend to have a low dedication level while top dedicators tend to have richer conversations with others, taking advantage of smaller and manageable social networks.
For more details, see our full paper, Discovering Dedicators with Topic-based Semantic Social Networks,
Jiyeon Jang, Korea Advance Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST)
Sung-Hyon Myaeng, Korea Advance Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST)