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If so much change occurs through word of mouth, how do we evaluate it?

There is general agreement that word of mouth marketing is a critical element of changing behaviour. Whether it is a family member, colleague, neighbour, or friend, we are more likely to take on the advice and behaviours that are modelled by those we trust. This is the basis of effective communication (think also of the 6 degrees of separation experiment). Mark Earls, the author of Herd: how to change mass behaviour by harnessing our true nature provides great examples of how social networks are key to changing mass behaviour.

Mark recently posted a blog about how important it is to understand social networks.

Mark notes: Social networks are not channels for advertisers or for the adverts/memes you, your clients or any of your so-called “influentials” create, social networks are for all of the people who participate in the network.

So if word of mouth is an element of your behaviour change program (as it should be), how can you track its spread, and find out whom the key people are in networks? Well, social network analysis is one way! So what is a social network analysis?

Andrew Rixon, from Babelfish Group, notes in an e-booklet on enhancing collaboration that Social Network Analysis is the technique of analysing roles and social networks…. The outcomes of social network analysis provides surprising and insightful results allowing structure(s) to become visible and discussable.

Making such networks visible should surely be one of the goals of  evaluation. In this way, for those who have read Gladwell’s Tipping Point, you can find out who the mavens, connectors and salesmen are.

Interested in finding out more on Social Network Analysis?

Andrew Rixon will be holding a post-conference workshop on this very topic, so check out the program of post conference workshops and register online.

| April 13th, 2010 | Posted in Behaviour Change, complexity, Evaluation, Uncategorized |

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