Breathless. Heart beating. We all know the feeling. It’s all heart, feeling, emotion. We’re waiting for the brain to kick in – but there is no relief. It’s really a sign of madness.
Love is merely a madness: and, I tell you, deserves as
as well a dark house and a whip, as madmen do: and the
reason why they are not so punished and cured, is, that
the lunacy is so ordinary, that the whippers are in love too.
— Shakespeare, As You Like It, 3.2
But these days, meeting and falling in love is not just a physical thing. It’s virtual … and played out on social networks.
The Facebook data science team has been digging through the mountains of interactions that take place between people before, during and after they fall in love. They looked in detail at the number of posts exchanged going back to 100 days before the “couple” changed their relationship status from “single”. What they found was that social media interaction plays an important role in the formation of the relationship:
When the relationship starts (“day 0”), posts begin to decrease. We observe a peak of 1.67 posts per day 12 days before the relationship begins, and a lowest point of 1.53 posts per day 85 days into the relationship. Presumably, couples decide to spend more time together, courtship is off, and online interactions give way to more interactions in the physical world.
And this is where big data gets interesting. We are now starting to see digital traces of behaviours that have real world impacts. The things that we do and say online can be correlated across thousands of data points to reveal actions that take place in our so-called “real lives”. But where does it go from here?
- Social lifestyle mapping: Facebook (and other collectors of big data) can map and improve personas, track shifts and changes in community trends and lifestyles over time
- Predictive targeting: With social lifestyle mapping in place, algorithms can be used to predictively target individuals and groups with relevant information. This could take the form of advertising, public health messaging/recommendations, career suggestions and so on. In fact, the possibilities are endless
- Location awareness: As a large number of Facebook interactions take place on mobile devices, location awareness can add a greater degree of relevance to any of these predictive or realtime offers.
High level barriers:
There are some immediate barriers to usefulness that spring to mind:
- Brands are slow to catch and embrace technology innovation: Facebook (and indeed Google) have a great deal of work ahead to prepare brands and governments for the power and opportunity that this presents. Thus far we’ve seen precious little in the way of focused education and leadership in this area and without it, organisations simply won’t be prepared (or interested) in this
- Organisations lag in digital transformation: For these opportunities to be embraced, most organisations have to undertake digital transformation activities. Ranging from change management and education to strategy, business system overhauls and process improvement, digital transformation is the only way to unlock organisation-wide value – but few are seriously committed to such a program
- Privacy is shaping up as a contested business battleground: Many governments, corporations and individuals fervently hang on to notions of pre-internet era privacy. Laws and regulations have struggled to keep pace with the changes taking place in our online behaviours. Meanwhile public and private organisations are conflicted in their use of, protection and interest in privacy. We’ll need to work through this to understand whether privacy really is dead.