Spatial diffusion and churn of social media

Innovative ideas, products or services spread on social networks that, in the digital age, are maintained to large extent via telecommunication tools such as emails or social media. One of the intriguing puzzles in social contagion under such conditions is the role of physical space. It is not understood either how geography influences the disappearance of products at the end of their life-cycle. In this paper, we utilize a unique dataset compiled from a Hungarian on-line social network (OSN) to uncover novel features in the spatial adoption and churn of digital technologies. The studied OSN was established in 2002 and failed in international competition about a decade later. We find that early adopter towns churn early; while individuals tend to follow the churn of nearby friends and are less influenced by the churn of distant contacts. An agent-based Bass Diffusion Model describes the process how the product gets adopted in the overall population. We show the limitations of the model regarding the spatial aspects of diffusion and identify the directions of model corrections. Assortativity of adoption time, urban scaling of adoption over the product life-cycle and a distance decay function of diffusion probability are the main factors that spatial diffusion models need to account for.


Spatial diffusion and churn of social media
Balázs Lengyel, Riccardo Di Clemente, János Kertész, Marta C. González