The power of patterns

I have little doubt that news of a study by Facebook and Università degli Studi di Milano showing that Facebook has reduced the degrees of separation from six to four will inspire many to post advice on how and why to push everything Facebook’s way.

According to the study, “99.6% of all pairs of users are connected by paths with 5 degrees (6 hops), 92% are connected by only four degrees (5 hops),” and the average “distance” between users is getting smaller over time.

But I agree with Marc Schiller of Bond Strategy and Influence who pointed out in a recent interview posted on the AdWeek site that the key customer insights in a dynamic marketing environment come with brands adapting to movements in behaviours not shifts in technology.

What really matters here is not that Facebook has reduced the separation between people, it’s that people have continued to employ Facebook to reduce the separation between each other.

If you just focus on the how and not the why, there’s a very real risk of counting the dots at the expense of seeing the patterns.

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