Report: Facebook users more trusting, engaged!

NEW YORK (AP) — Facebook, it turns out, isn’t just a waste of time. People who use it have more close friends, get more social support and report being more politically engaged than those who don’t, according to a new national study on Americans and social networks.

The report comes as Facebook, Twitter and even the buttoned-up, career-oriented LinkedIn continue to ingrain themselves in our daily lives and change the way we interact with friends, co-workers and long-lost high school buddies.

Released Thursday by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, the report also found that Facebook users are more trusting than their non-networked counterparts.

When accounting for all other factors – such as age, education level or race – Facebook users were 43 percent more likely than other Internet users to say that “most people can be trusted.” Compared with people who don’t use the Internet at all, Facebook users were three times more trusting.

The reason for this is not entirely clear. One possible explanation: People on social networks are more willing to trust others because they interact with a larger number of people in a more diverse setting, said Keith Hampton, the main author of the study and a communications professor at the University of Pennsylvania.

When all else is equal, people who use Facebook also have 9 percent more close ties in their overall social network than other Internet users. This backs an earlier report from Pew that, contrary to studies done earlier in the decade, the Internet is not linked to social isolation. Rather, it can lead to larger, more diverse social networks.

Social-networking users also scored high in political engagement. Because LinkedIn users (older, male and more educated) fall into a demographic category that’s more politically active than the general population, they were most likely to vote or attend political rallies. But after adjusting for those characteristics, Facebook users, especially those who use the site multiple times a day, turned out to be more politically involved than those who don’t use it.

Overall, the average American has a little more than two close confidants, 2.16 to be exact, according to the report. This is up from an average of 1.93 close ties that Americans reported having in 2008. There are also fewer lonely people: 9 percent of respondents said they had no one with whom they could discuss important matters. That’s down from 12 percent in 2008.

The report didn’t try to dig into cause and effect, so it’s not clear whether the widening use of social networks is causing less loneliness. But it did find that people who use the Internet are less socially isolated than those who don’t. Those on social networks, even less so – just 5 percent said they had no one to talk to about important stuff.

The researchers also got numbers to back up what’s in the mind of many Facebook users past a certain age: Yes, all your old high school classmates really are coming out of the woodwork and “friending” you. The average Facebook user has 56 friends on the site from high school. That’s far more than any other social group, including extended family, co-workers or college classmates.

Facebook’s settings let users add the high school they attended to their profile, along with the year they graduated. Other users can then search for their classmates and add them as friends for a virtual reunion.

“It’s really reshaping how people maintain their networks,” Hampton said.

In the past, when people went to college or got jobs and moved away from their home towns, they left those relationships behind, too. This was especially true in the 1960s, when women not in the work force would move to the suburbs with their husbands and face a great deal of isolation, Hampton said.

Now, with social networks, these ties are persistent.

“Persistent and pervasive,” Hampton said. “They stay with you forever.”

The survey was conducted among 2,255 adults from Oct. 20 to Nov. 28, 2010. The margin of error is plus or minus 2.3 percentage points for the full sample.

Online: Pew Internet

Emineo Media

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Klout Expands Influence Scoring To Professional Social Network LinkedIn!

Klout, a startup that measures influence on Twitter and Facebook, is expanding its product today with the addition of LinkedIn. With the launch of Klout scoring for LinkedIn, you’ll be able to add your LinkedIn account to your Klout score and see your influence on the professional social network network itself.

For background, Klout evaluates users’ behavior with complex ranking algorithms and semantic analysis of content to measure the influence of individuals on social networks.

On Twitter, Klout’s influence score is based on a user’s ability to drive action through Tweets, Retweets and more. On Facebook, Klout will examine how conversations and content generate interest and engagement, via likes, comments, and more, from the network’s nearly 700 million users.

While Klout declined to give specifics on exactly what they are anlyzing (i.e. Likes, Tweets); the startup said it will analyze your interactions on the LinkedIn, who you are interacting with and engaging, and what types of content you are sharing with contacts. It’s important to note that simply having more connections on LinkedIn won’t get you a higher Klout score; it’s about the quality of those connections.

If you have your LinkedIn account synced on Klout, your influence on the network will soon be added to your overall Klout score.

Founder and CEO Joe Fernandez says that LinkedIn integration was one of the most requested features for Klout users. The company says that some users aren’t as active on Twitter, but are active on LinkedIn, and this is a way to make Klout scores more accurate. But in case you don’t really engage on LinkedIn, Klout says that your overall influence score won’t go down. In most cases users will see a score increase, even for infrequent LinkedIn users, says Klout.

Now that LinkedIn has over 100 million users and is also encouraging more sharing and engagement on the network, it probably makes sense for influence on the professional network to be measured. I’d be interested in seeing how any Klout users actually are interested in measuring their ‘Klout’ on LinkedIn.

Klout Expands Influence Scoring To Professional Social Network LinkedIn.

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Social Collaboration Can Drive Significant ROI for Business!

What’s the ROI of social?

For almost 20 years, organizations and executives have asked that question, demanding a hard financial payback when considering an investment in social and community platforms. At a macro level, they want to know, how does a concept like “social collaboration” directly impact the status quo and improve:

Sales, product innovation and speed-to-market of new products?

Customer satisfaction and employee engagement?

Cost savings and operating efficiency?

These are all logical questions as every organization has these same objectives. Yet, a magic formula for quantifying the business value of “social” has proved elusive. What’s the value of connecting people; engaging groups of individuals in collaboration within the context of a community; sharing ideas or knowledge; or learning from social interactions and the transfer of expertise, experience, interests, feedback and insights?

Benefits of Social Technology Can Be Significant Relative to the Investment

In simple terms, ROI = Results / Your Investment. While an investment in social technology involves money, time and resources, the monetary component is relatively low compared to, say, an ERP system. Yet social delivers significant, quantifiable results such as increased revenue, cost reduction and people development. Just one idea or one conversation or one social interaction all have the potential to spark the next product innovation or reduction in operating costs.

Post-it Notes is a classic example of a billion dollar product invented by an individual chemist at 3M who tried for years without success to promote his invention internally. It’s also well documented how Toyota listened to and incorporated the ideas and feedback of line workers to improve the assembly line, reduce costs and improve quality.

While these two companies showed the success of harnessing the collective intelligence of individuals, there are hundreds of examples of missed opportunities where organizations failed to capitalize on the ideas, knowledge and expertise of individuals throughout their value chain. What’s needed is an effective and efficient way to more easily enable the flow of information, ideas and knowledge from those who have knowledge to those who seek it.

Investing in the right technological capabilities is critical for connecting people and self-forming communities to thrive. Social technology provides the underlying capabilities that help transform how organizations socially interact, communicate, innovate and collaborate with one another. Often, simply investing in social technology and engaging in it is how some organizations get started. Technology can become viral and take on a life of its own. In other cases, technology by itself is not the answer. Either way, a top-down collaboration strategy can help set the right organizational focus.

Embed Collaboration as Part of Your Business Strategy

At the strategic level, creating a vision and identifying objectives are critical in driving the right focus around what you hope to achieve. This includes connecting people more efficiently and harnessing the collective knowledge of individuals across your value chain. You need to understand the opportunities and baseline metrics where possible, develop a plan and determine a time-frame over which the investment will be measured.

Gartner and McKinsey both have performed studies on the benefits of social collaboration, and they are definitely worth reviewing to gain some strategic insights. These studies include measured results where organizations have reduced costs, increased revenue, shortened time to market or improved productivity, employee engagement and customer satisfaction by investing in social technology.

Quantifiable Business Value is Use-Case Driven

Tactically, identifying specific use cases where community building and social networking will positively impact culture and change is also part of the ROI equation. Identifying specific contextual use cases in which social technology will be applied is critical in justifying its business value. And there are hundreds of examples across any organization including:

  • Onboarding New Employees
  • Online Mentoring
  • On-Demand Social Learning
  • Expertise Location
  • Project Management
  • Conflict Resolution
  • Town Hall Meetings
  • Market Research
  • Product Announcements & Awareness
  • Marketing Campaigns
  • Technical Support
  • Product or Service Knowledge Sharing
  • Innovation / Idea Management
  • Joint Product Development
  • Call Centers
  • Knowledge Retention of Retiring Workforce
  • Centers of Excellence
  • Online Customer Collaboration and Support
  • Proposal Development
  • Lead Generation
  • Industry Studies
  • Knowledge Sharing in a Field of Study

In each use case, measurement and metrics may have different meanings depending on the approach. Use-case-driven tactical execution will allow your company to aggregate measurable ROI at an organizational level and also understand the impact at:

  • A community level: how can social technology create greater trust, expertise sharing and problem solving, and improve the flow of information and knowledge throughout projects and process.
  • An individual level: how can it increase engagement and enhance skills, job satisfaction, professional reputation and personal productivity.

Social Technology Provides Capabilities to Measure What You Couldn’t Measure Before

By incorporating collaboration as part of your organizational strategy from the top-down, investing in the right social technology, and focusing on specific use cases, you will begin to impact cultural change from the bottom-up and realize business value. In the absence of a top-down strategy, focusing on specific use cases with small investments in social technology will help determine the value that social collaboration through communities can have on the organization and culture from the bottom-up.

Regardless, it’s likely your organization has few, if any, benchmarks to compare measurable results against. Until social technology, there really has been no systemic way to measure concepts like “community.” Most decision makers and executives fail to recognize that investing in social technology provides new capabilities to measure what they couldn’t measure before.

Social Collaboration Can Drive Significant ROI for Business.

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