Wednesday, November 23, 2011

How Sample Changes the Game


The recent news that an analysis of Facebook friends has shrunk the old 6 Degrees of Separation theory down to 4.74 world wide and 4.37 in the U.S.  You can read all about it here.  This is a significant finding to all of us in radio programming on a couple of levels:


  1. The Audience is woven tighter than we imagined.  The real power to spread your reach and to gain more P1s really lies in the audience you already have.  If you can start a 'spark' in that group it can spread quickly.  The key is starting the spark.  
  2. Social Networks are playing a huge role.  The ability to interact with the audience and grow it's size has never been easier.  
  3. Sample Size does matter.   We've always lived on random sample world of the normal curve and standard deviations to predict the size of our audience, the music they like, the images they carry on our products.  The original study in the 60s that produced the 6 Degree theory was based on 296 volunteers who sent postcards to friends.  The Facebook 4.7 Degree theory was based on breaking down the 'friends' data of millions of users.  They had ample data from everyone on Facebook to see who they were connected to.  This is a 25% difference in the numbers here.   That is a pretty big swing from one study to the other.   Consider if you downloaded your next book and found the numbers swinging 25% up or down for no obvious reason.  The bigger sample size did show a significant difference in the result.  
The real lesson for us here are points 1 and 2.  If you start to visualize your audience as an interlinked group of people and start to interact with them on their level you have the potential to develop a huge reach.  Working from the 'bottom up' - one listener to another - is the path to building your reach.  

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