2An OSN has the following characteristics:--First, OSNs are
. The users build thenetwork over a period of time and determine the generaldirection of the network by their activities. As more and moreusers join the network and interact with each other, thenetwork gets enriched with content and conversations. Allusers have equal opportunity to determine the conversationsin the network. The open nature of the conversations and theability of users to participate in the discussions at any point of time make the conversations truly unpredictable and dynamic.--Second, OSNs are
. Apart from the regularinteraction through private message boards and public profilepages, users also interact with each using applicationsranging from games to question/answers and throughdifferent groups. These various avenues of communicationincrease the level of communication.--Third, OSNs are
. Users createcommunities according to their interests. Other users havingsimilar interests join the community. The users of thecommunity then start discussing with each other and formnew connections based on these interests. Therefore, groupsand communities help in creating a denser network.--Fourth,
form an important part of anyOSN. The distance of a user from the centre of the network isdetermined by the number of connections that the user has. Auser having more connections is closer to the center of thenetwork. Users near the centre of the network become veryinfluential because the content published by them getstransmitted very fast across the network.--Finally, in an OSN, more emphasis is laid on the
of users than on content. Generally, users providetheir own opinion and understanding of the content alongwith the content itself. Increasingly, users are finding OSNsas a medium of self-expression. As larger portion of thepopulation gets wired, this trend is going to continue.
Classification of users
Based on the location of the user in the network, users canbe classified into three groups: singletons, giant componentsand middle region.Singletons are degree-zero nodes who have joined thenetwork but have not made any connection with other users of the network. They reside in the outermost part of the network and do not participate in the network and as such do not havemuch influence over the direction that content andconversations in the network take.The giant component represents the large inner layer of thenetwork. Here, users are connected to a large portion of thenetwork, either directly or indirectly. It consists of the mostactive users and a large portion of the content is generatedfrom the giant component.The middle region consists of small and closedcommunities. They interact with each other but not with thelarger network. They form a significant portion of the userbase of OSNs.Some interesting insights regarding users emerge from thisclassification. Research shows that isolated communities arenot likely to merge with each other. Almost all isolatedcommunities are stars. A star is a single individual who isvery charismatic and are linked to a small group of peoplewho have very less connections. Stars dictate the generaldirection of the community. Stars evolve through twoprocesses
isolated communities grow one user at a time andover a period of time either merge with the giant componentor cease to exist as the star loses focus. Merging stars formthe outer layer of a giant component. The core of a giantcomponent is formed by tightly connected group of veryactive users. As time passes and users create more and moreconnections, the average distance between users in a giantcomponent falls.
User Content Generation
Lei Guo et al. have divided OSNs into two categories basedon the purpose that they serve. The first category, callednetworking oriented OSNs, consists of sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn which place more emphasis on the networkingaspect of the social network. The other category, calledKnowledge oriented OSNs, consists of question/answer andblogging websites which emphasize more on contentgeneration. The researchers studied some of the knowledgeoriented OSNs and proposed some patterns of user contentgeneration. Through their study they found that-- Original content generation shows strong daily andweekly patterns while non-original content do not exhibit anysuch temporal pattern.-- Users can be classified into three groups according totheir posting behavior
steadily posting, occasionally postingand inactively posting.-- 20% of users contribute to 80% of the total content in thenetwork -- User contribution for original content is characterized bythe stretched exponential model with different parameters.For example, for high quality content the distribution has alow stretch factor indicating that it has been generated by asmall core group of users.
OSN use and personality
Online marketing efforts rely most on the personality of individuals. As such, understanding the personality of OSNusers becomes very important. Yair et al. conduct data basedanalysis about the personality of OSN users. The researchobserves that extrovert individuals have higher number of friends. This observation assumes importance becausemarketers looking for extrovert people would be able to do soby looking at the number of connections that the user hasformed. Thus number of users becomes the quantitative data
by which a person’s extrovertness can be measured. Neurotic
individuals would most likely provide more personally-identifiable information than less neurotic individuals. On the