A study involving more than one million users on Facebook reveals that men have a greater influence compared to women while the younger generation struggle to make a telling impact compared to the older generation.
Sinan Aral, who studies the spread of information at New York University, says 'finding influential people is all the rage today.'
Knowing what makes someone influential could of course help advertisers spread their products through social media, but it can also be used more altruistically, such as promoting HIV testing in Africa.
Aral, however, pointed out that that many firms who claim to measure influence online are not approaching it in a scientific way.
Aral and his colleague Dylan Walker studied influence by watching how use of a film-rating app spread through Facebook users.
Starting with a seed group of 7730 users, the researchers designed the app to randomly send messages to the app users' friends, encouraging them to also install the app.
Just under 42,000 messages were sent out to a random selection of the initial groups' 1.3 million friends, resulting in nearly 1000 new app users.
The analysis revealed that men are 49 per cent more influential than women, but women are 12 per cent less susceptible to influence than men, and they exert 46 per cent more influence over men than over other women.
The report also revealed that influence also increases with age, with people over 31 being 51 per cent better at convincing their friends than those under 18.