Just a Few Seeds More: Value of Network Information for Diffusion
48 Pages Posted: 1 Nov 2017 Last revised: 2 Sep 2020
Date Written: August 20, 2020
Identifying the optimal set of individuals to first receive information (‘seeds’) in a social network is a widely-studied question in many settings, such as diffusion of information, spread of microfinance programs, and adoption of new technologies. Numerous studies have proposed various network-centrality based heuristics to choose seeds in a way that is likely to boost diffusion. Here we show that, for the classic SIR model of diffusion and some of its generalizations, randomly seeding s + x individuals can prompt a larger diffusion than optimally targeting the best s individuals, for a small x. We prove our results for large classes of random networks, and verify them in several small, real-world networks. Our results identify practically relevant settings under which collecting and analyzing network data to boost diffusion is not cost-effective.
Keywords: Diffusion, social network, seeding, word-of-mouth, influence
JEL Classification: D85, D83, O12, Z13
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation