Being social is a core part of being human. It is evident from the drawings, carvings and paintings from the stone age to the modern technology-powered social networks. The internet was developed to be used in the military, but eventually is now used by the common man to exchange greetings and connect socially. So is the case with the mobile phones and more.
From hunting in groups or packs, to conquering countries in armies, to the identification of people to beliefs and movements, the humankind has always displayed the need to belong to a group.
How can Product Managers leverage ‘Being Social’ in Humans?
As Product Managers we create products that are used by humans, who are inherently social. This makes it all the more important for product managers to build products for the human social network. It makes it even more important for product managers to understand the following three key aspects of sociology.
Scalability in Social Networks
Scalability in social networks is the ability of a social network to grow without limits. In graph theory, there is a term called scale-free network, that is referred to a network like that of the airline network or that of a social network like Facebook. These networks have certain characteristics like its robustness against accidental failures. Good examples of scale-free networks are the world wide web, cellular metabolism networks and more.
Centrality in Networks
Centrality in networks determine the power of nodes in a network. If A, B and C are connected to each other, and if the connection between B and C is severed, the power of A is high as it is the only node that connects B and C. This is centrality. When building products that leverage the network effect, its important we understand and leverage the notion of centrality. Google’s PageRank algorithm is based on this principle.
Strength of Weak Ties
This is a very powerful theory that is leveraged in marketing and politics, where weak ties enable reaching populations and audiences that are not accessible via strong ties. The degree of overlap between two individuals’ friendship networks varies directly with the strength of their tie to one another. Understanding the strength of weak ties is important as it helps understand how to reach information across to individuals that we don’t have strong ties with. For starters, its the challenge that we have in reaching out to someone who is completely not in our network on LinkedIn or Facebook. LinkedIn or Facebook tells us how many “mutual friends” we have, and that’s an example of a strong tie.