Social Network Visualization

How our technologies help reveal insight in complex social networks

What are social networks?

Social networks are graphs of social interactions and personal relationships.

It’s easy to understand and explore a social network in graph format, using people as nodes, relationships as edges and additional information (characteristics, preferences, affiliations, etc.) as properties. Sometimes other entities such as companies, products, groups or organizations, are included as nodes.

visualizing a Twitter network
A screenshot of an interactive Twitter network featuring Poker experts filtered by their Betweenness value and sized by Klout score.

Why analyze social connections?

Network dynamics control the spread of information, news and ideas. They help identify tastes, opinions and activity. If we understand a person’s network, we have a much deeper knowledge than if we assessed them in isolation.

How to visualize social networks

Learn more about social networks and social network visualization.

Download the White Paper

Who needs to understand social networks?

Anyone with an interest in understanding humans and their behaviors can benefit from analyzing and visualizing social networks, including:

Government and law enforcement

  • Predict criminal activity by monitoring connections between suspects
  • Understand gang dynamics, discover leaders, followers and new individuals being integrated into a group
  • Find new lines of enquiry by mapping known connections between crime

Sales and Marketing

  • Identify, find and target influential people, including decision makers and thought leaders
  • Understand your customer’s aspirations and requirements to better meet their needs (e.g. product recommendation mechanisms)
  • Understand content and campaign propagation

Researchers and journalists

  • Discover breaking stories as they happen and understand information spread
  • Find authoritative experts and well-connected sources
  • Research connected individuals pertinent to a story

Social networking sites

  • Allow users to interact with their connections and discover new ones in an enjoyable and visually engaging way
  • Help users understand how they share their data and with whom
  • Discover and suggest community structures based on connections and shared interests

How to visualize social connections

Visualizing social networks in an interactive format offers faster and more accurate access to the network:

  • Overview – there are certain visual cues, such as size, shape, distance and alignment, that the brain interprets intuitively. Use these to provide an almost instant overview of a complex network.
  • Zoom and filter – include additional information using techniques such as color or numbers.
  • Details on demand – use text labels and on-click menus to add a final layer of detail.

Adding interactive features such as filters, node manipulation and node grouping and expansion, means network dynamics and connections can be explored on a micro, meso and macro scale.

Social network analysis

A powerful and well-thought-out automatic layout is key to ensuring a useful visualization of a social network.

Highlighting network clusters:

Using a force-directed layout, such as the standard layout, it’s possible to identify communities based on degree. Nodes are brought closer together by the edges that link them, with a counteracting repulsion exerted by the nodes to make sure networks don’t become too clustered.

Discovering similarities:

discovering similarities
Structural layout groups similar nodes closer together. It shows cluster groups of nodes with shared characteristics in fan shapes around a parent.

Understand dependencies:

visualizing a sequential network
Using a sequential or radial layout, it’s possible to arrange a network featuring parent-child dependency relationships. The sequential layout puts children below parents in a tree-like structure; for radial layouts each generation is a new orbit extending outwards from the parent.

Why choose us?

Our technologies are designed for building custom network visualization applications. Our customers can build feature-rich visualization applications that suit their data and their question. These applications use WebGL to render graphics in the browser, meaning they are powerful and highly compatible. They will run flawlessly in all modern browsers, on any device.

Sophisticated functionality can be incorporated into these applications, including:

  • Social Network Analysis – Degree, betweenness, closeness, kCores and shortest path
  • Network filtering – filter nodes and links based on any filter logic you choose
  • Layouts – precise and powerful layouts, including organic, structural, sequential and radial
  • Combine nodes – Investigate nodes as well as groups by combining nodes
  • Temporal analysis – understand how networks form, evolve and change over time
  • Geospatial analysis – visualize your networks on maps, to understand geographic trends
visualizing a Facebook network
A social network visualization of Facebook friends, using data loaded into an InfinteGraph database that includes filters based on gender, nationality and degree were included.

Find out more

For more information, or for a demonstration of how our technology could help you understand social networks, get in touch with our team or request a trial.

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