Social Graph Thoughts

I have been trying hard not to use the phrase "social graph", and replace it with "social network", but it has been difficult as "social network" now describes the websites that help you manage your social graph.

It’s clear that the best such application is Facebook.  At least, it was the first encarnation of Facebook.  More on that to come.

And now that Facebook is a platform, questions about what sort of a platform it is spring to mind.  For me, there have been two persistent questions, and today two friends of mine posted about them, making my job easier.

First, Baris looks at the economics of Facebook apps and comments:

The #1 app, Top Friends has 2.8M active daily users.  Can’t easily tell
how many monetizable pageviews they get per user per day, but even at
this massive usage, it’s hard to see them making more than $1000/day.
That’s $360K/year, again not bad, but not a slam dunk.

So, we know popularity <> earnings, and so far, popularity is the only success metric.  With these apps spreading, Facebook seems to be the only one who wins. Add to this that most of these are apps that spread when Facebook did not limit the number of invites you can send to your friends to 10/day.  To build a freestanding Facebook app doesn’t seem to make sense.  Baris is hinting at the next generation of apps that squeeze additional value out of the social graph, and that may be interesting.

Second, Aydin points out the changing demographics of Facebook:

  • Between ’06 and ’07 the proportion of 18 to 24 year olds on Facebook went down from 35% to 25%
  • Between ’06 and ’07 the proportion of 35 year old plus segment on Facebook went up from 35% to 46%

Facebook has been used a certain way by its first gen inhabitants, who were defined by certain characteristics (see danah boyd’s excellent study on this).  They were what made Facebook very very different.  The next wave (post-September 06) flocked because of these differences. We will see if they change Facebook.  My bet is that they will.

One thought on “Social Graph Thoughts

  1. Why not refer to the data structure by the name that is most accurate?
    The social phenomenon of interest is a social network – a set of relationships defined between persons (could be merkats, though).
    The actors and relationships could be represented in a number of ways.
    A mathematical structure called a graph (a set that is composed of two sets: an entity set and a relationship set) can be used to represent the structure of a social network. The diagram of a this graph is not the “real” graph of interest to us here. The real graph is the set – or sometting that equates, data-wise, to the set.
    The result of this representational act is a social network graph. Since aspects of a social network may not appear in its social network graph, it is important to be clear about when you are referring to the phenomenon and when you are referring to the data structure.


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