With a user base of more than 900 million users spanning the globe, Facebook by far has the largest behavioral data set than any other source. For someone like myself that regularly references and utilizes consumer behavioral data, the possibilities that Facebook has at their fingertips are more than mouthwatering. Especially when you consider that the information Facebook is working with isn’t static. They hold a living, breathing well of information that they continue to learn from and use to drive user actions.
Facebook has dedicated a special group that they call the Data Science Team to exploring this data and seeing what the company can learn from it. Unlike academic social scientists, Facebook’s employees have a short path from an idea to an experiment on hundreds of millions of people.
And we aren’t talking about small sample sizes of a few thousand people. With a member base of over 900 million users, a quick test group of 1 million people can be segmented and tested without making much of dent on the user base as a whole.
In an article by Tom Simonite over at Technology Review, Tom details how Facebook is…
“…hunting for insights about human behavior. What they find could give Facebook new ways to cash in on our data—and remake our view of society.”
One very interesting discovery that the team has made is in what relationships really influence our behaviors. They found that:
- It is our diverse collection of weak ties that most powerfully determines what information we’re exposed to.
- How this relates to advertising “people are 50 percent more likely to remember ads on the site if they’re visibly endorsed by a friend.”
I for one am very interested to see what Facebook’s Data Science Team discovers about human behaviors and what the company plans to do with all the insights gained from this research.
I highly recommend reading the full article here.