Skip main navigation

Exercise: who is the most powerful person in a social network?

Watch Dr David Millard introduce the idea of network analytics through a task which calculates the most powerful individual in a small social network.

Watch this short video that introduces the idea of network analytics, and contains an activity to calculate the most powerful individual in a small social network using one of a number of different methods.

In the first part of this week we looked at the different shapes and properties that networks have. Now we have an ability to represent and describe them in this abstract way we can start to analyse them to answer questions about the things that they represent.

In this video we present an exercise to analyse the activity of a small office network, can we use the connections and messages to calculate who is the most influential person?


Exercise instructions

  1. Attached to this article you will find a PDF file that describes the activity in a small office-based social network. The social network works in a similar way to Twitter, in that users can follow one another, and post update messages. There are also a number of interesting features:

    • Updates can contain URLs (web links to interesting material).

    • Users can pass on messages using ‘Retweets’. This is normally done by acknowledging the original person (so for example ‘RT @Alice’ would be a retweet of a message originally send by Alice).

    • Users can message each other directly. This is done by starting a message with the name of the person the message is directed to (so for example ‘@Bob I agree’ is a message meant for Bob).

  2. Download the PDF of the example office network. It contains a description of the users and followers, and a description of a morning’s conversation.

  3. Once you have familiarised yourself with the network download the first help sheet. Read the sheet, and follow the instructions to analyse the network. The help sheet should help you identify an individual who is the most powerful.

  4. Once you have done this download one of the other two help sheets (you can pick at random, or simply choose the one that corresponds to the month in which you were born). Follow this second sheet to see how an alternative analysis might work.

  5. OPTIONAL – if you have time you may then download the final sheet and work through that as well.


Once you are finished you should watch the second part of the video in the next Step.

This article is from the free online

The Power of Social Media

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now