Their research revealed the profound influence of our social network on our decisions and behaviors--a wonderful affirmation of PyroMarketing. For example, if one person in the study became obese, the likelihood that their friends would follow suit increased by 171 percent. This means that a person's social network is more predictive of obesity than the presence of genes associated with the condition.
Our social sphere also influences positive behaviors. When a subject in the study quit smoking, their friends were 36 percent more likely to quit as well, but the influence disappeared after three degrees of separation.
The influence was true for emotions too. By evaluating the self-reported moods of people in the study, the researchers found that happy people tended to have happy friends. What's more, this was also true online. By studying smiles on Facebook profiles, they found the same pattern. Social networks gather around joyful expressions.
The researchers didn't find any million dollar smiles, but they learned that almost every smile is worth $22,500. That's because each happy friend increased an individual's happiness by 9 percent, while an extra $5,000 of income only increased it by 2 percent.
The implications for marketers are significant. If smoking, obesity and happiness spread through social networks, why not books, beer, and Snuggies?
Stop marketing to individuals, and start targeting social networks with a two-step strategy. Start with the driest tinder-- individuals within each network predisposed to your offer--and then leverage their influence to reach the rest of their group.
You can find more information on the study in the current issue of Wired or in the book Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives.
Spread the fire. GS