Let me introduce you all to Social Network Analysis.

Whether you are a social scientist in academia or industry, clear data visualization has the power to make or break your presentation. SNA is a great way to identify, quantify and visualize information flow and relationships in a variety of environments including the office space, on Twitter and in the neighborhood.

I have used SNA in my current work to map the hyperlink network of various departments within a larger school at Georgetown to help answer questions about how departments share information, how they differentiate their individual brands and how they work together to create a unified online voice for the school.

Some interesting insights were gained from this visualization which otherwise might have been easily overlooked by the web developer:

  • In addition to connecting directly to each other, each department links visitors to the same 44 general reference pages.
  • Some departments (#4) offer their visitors more variety in information, while some (#1 and #3) offer their visitors comparably minimal information.
  • 2 pages are linked to directly by only two departments: only #2 and #4 are directly linked to “Faculty and Research,” and more importantly only #4 and #5 are directly linked to the application software used by students to apply to the school’s programs.

So there you have it. This is just a peek into the world of SNA, but there really are so many applications of this software to learning more about how we communicate and build relationships. If you’re interested in learning more or would like to teach yourself how to use the software yourself, here are a few resources I found helpful:

Analyzing Social Media Networks with NodeXL: Insights from a Connected World – Great how-to guide to using NodeXL software with a variety of other platforms including Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, and Email.

The Hidden Power of Social Networks: Understanding How Work Really Gets Done in Organizations – Fantastic guide to implementing SNA in organizational management.

NodeXL: Network Overview, Discovery and Exploration for Excel – NodeXL software, a free add-on to Excel.