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#623: Use Data Maps to Understand Your Social Networks

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Wednesday, August 3, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, August 3, 2011
I've let the results of my social media campaign get out of control. After building large sets of networks (e.g., Facebook, BranchOut, BeKnown and LinkedIn), it has become a long list of names and contacts and not something manageable. How can I get back some sense of order without trimming the networks?

In hindsight, this was inevitable. Building a network and connecting with interesting people was fun and productive at first. However, when it is possible to have downline network contacts numbering in the millions, it is no longer a human scale, manageable network. Sure, it is still a powerful resource for automated searches but if a network is made up of a lot of people we barely know (or never met in person) then it is hard to use.

Since this is a problem not unique to you, as usual technology comes to the rescue. LinkedIn, recognizing that many people had even second tier contacts numbering tens or hundreds of thousands, came up with a network data visualization tool in LinkedIn Maps. Go to this link, log in and generate your network map. based on how interconnected your contacts are, you can label the different colors and get some insights of how to better use your vast network.

Tip: Data visualization and segmentation for greater understanding can be done with 3x5 cards or a sophisticated tool, but this is a good lesson for us all to remember. With good structure and organization data can be transformed into information. However, without an evolving understanding and structure, too much information (contacts) can also devolve into less useful data almost as easily.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  data visualization  marketing  social media 

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