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And they told 2 friends, and they told 2 friends, and so on, and so on….

May 9, 2012

In the recent provincial election, I think there were some excellent examples of how social networks influenced the diffusion of information.  I will speak to this from a personal perspective.  I have a twenty-one year old daughter who was informed, but undecided until just before election day.  The campaign on YouTube regarding strategic voting is what helped her and many of her friends decide who to vote for.  This campaign effectively diffused the message to a group of early adopters at just the right time.  They were ready to hear it as they didn’t know who to vote for and this helped them make that decision at the last minute.  The video I have linked to is definitely aimed at young people (there are many more on You Tube you can look up as well).  If we try to relate this example to some of the key points from Kadushin this week, this is how I see it:

  • Diffusion -YouTube was used to quickly and effectively diffuse the message
  • Tipping Point – release of the videos caught all those people wondering who to vote for at just the right time
  • Threshold – the diffusion and adoption happened so quickly, it is hard to say if a threshold was reached – I guess it would have happened at the voting stations
  • S-Shaped curve – I think because of the short timeframe, the curve would have reflected a very short early adopter stage followed quickly by “late” adopters – who really weren’t that “late”!
  • Influencers – young people depicted in a video, speaking the language of their intended audience, highlighting their doubts and fears and essentially telling them it is okay to vote for someone they may not like as long as it isn’t the Wild Rose Party.  In this case, the video actors served as a model that had an opinion.
  • Causality – fear of a “radical” party getting in caused young voters to vote strategically
  • Opinion leaders – in this case friends of my daughter connected via social media to discuss whether strategic voting was the right thing to do – they collaborated and then made up their own minds.  I’m not sure if anyone in particular stood out – it was more about the conversation and influence of the actors in the video. In this case persuasion rather than merely making information available was what was important.
  • Betweeness – the groups of young voters were linked by the concept and persuasion of the videos – these were groups that might not otherwise have been connected – new ideas came from the periphery and were definitely unconventional
  • Peer group influence – not much need to explain this one!
  • Concentrated exposure – this was definitely at play – quick blasts from social media followed by lots of chatter among the members of that social group meant the influence also came from all directions.
  • Rewiring small worlds – this was at play where the voting norms were turned on their head with a new strategic plan – it was new, radical and gave young people a voice which they felt could make a difference.

Networks, influence and diffusion…definitely alive and well in Alberta politics!  For those who were not watching TV in the 80’s and are wondering where the heading for this post came from click here to find out!

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