Last week, Facebook, in conjunction with the Universita degli Studi di Milano, issued a study that reveals empirically that the separation between people has in fact decreased as Facebook has grown.
The study analyzed 721 million active Facebook users, more than 10% of the global population, and the 69 billion “friends” of those users.
There were two key findings of the study. The study measured how many friends people have, and found that this distribution differs significantly from previous studies of large-scale social networks. The study found that the degrees of separation between any two Facebook users is smaller than the commonly cited six degrees, and has been shrinking over the past three years as Facebook has grown.
“We found that six degrees actually overstates the number of links between typical pairs of users: While 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 as Facebook has grown over the years, representing an even larger fraction of the global population, it has become steadily more connected. The average distance in 2008 was 5.28 hops, while now it is 4.74.”
The study also found that the “world gets even smaller” when the analysis is limited to a single country, where the separation between social networking users is only 3 degrees. While the entire world is only a few degrees away, a user’s friends are most likely to be of a similar age and come from the same country.
What does this mean for businesses? Recruiters and human resources professionals alike cannot deny the influence and benefits of social networking on career building. Recruiters can maximize their pool of qualified candidates by utilizing the connections of their employees and their employees’ vast networks.
Join us at the Social Recruiting Strategies Conference this January 24-26, 2012 in San Francisco to learn more about implementing effective social recruiting strategies.