Investments in the Social Network: Myspace & Facebook

I am part of a committee in an investment firm and our goal is to figure out what social media platform we should invest in. We are deciding between MySpace which is a popular social media site and Facebook which is an up-and-coming site. I am a strong believer that we should go with Facebook, but most of my other colleagues want to go with MySpace. There are ten people on the committee and we need to reach a unanimous decision. As of right now, seven people are leaning towards MySpace and three of us are backing Facebook. My group that is leaning towards Facebook is in the minority and we are trying to come up with ways to sway the other group to our side so that our firm invests in Facebook.

Through my research, I found three major ways to inflate minority influence and get people on my side. These scholarly articles pointed out the importance of being well informed, standing one’s ground, and being open about motives. I will further explain in this essay how these findings came to be and can be applied in the MySpace vs Facebook debate.

In the Stewart and Stasser research, there are three hypotheses that are tested. First, the hypothesis that the groups set to solve the information is more likely to select the guilty suspect because it is a more definitive answer compared to the ranking of people in a judge set. The second hypothesis tested is that the group where everyone shared all the information should reach the correct solution and come to a solution the fastest. This group would be followed by the informed minority group who is also likely to select the guilty suspect. The final group with an uninformed minority likely to be less accurate than the other groups. The third and final hypothesis is comparing the “pick a suspect” set vs the “rank subjects” set. Stewart and Strasser believed that in the set determining the guilty, the informed minority is more likely to speak up thus leading to the correct suspect being named. In the ranking set, the informed minority is less likely to be motivated to share the information they have, leading to these groups determining the correct suspect fewer times.

In this study, groups were either set to pick a guilty suspect or to order suspects from least to most likely. These groups Stewart and Stasser called the solve set vs the judge set. In addition to these groups, there were also groups with an informed minority and an uninformed minority. The control group was all of the information given to everyone before the group discussion. 352 participants were assigned to 88 four-person groups. The participants were required to read a booklet that outlined a homicide. In the informed group, three participants were given a piece of the puzzle about each of the three suspects(on two suspects it was exonerating information and on one it was incriminating) and the fourth member was given all of the puzzles. In the uninformed group, three participants were each given different clues about the three suspects (the same as the informed group) but the fourth member was given none of the information. In the final all-knowing control group, everyone was given all of the clues.

For the procedure, each group was told that the reason for the study was to see how well the groups used the information to reach a consensus. In the judge set participants were told that there was not enough information to determine one suspect and in the solve set they were told that there was one suspect that did it. The discussions were to be audiotaped. Before the group discussed each participant of the study was given a survey. In the solve set the survey asked them to select the suspect they assumed guilty and in the judge set the participants were asked to rank the suspects from most likely to least. After the questionnaire, the groups were sent to rooms to discuss. In the judge set, the group was reminded that there may not be enough evidence to determine someone guilty and they just needed to rank the suspects. In the solve set the group was told that there was one guilty suspect and they were in charge of determining who it was. For each group, the time allotted was 30 minutes but the group could end the discussion whenever they reached a consensus on their task.

This study found that in the survey before group discussion, the participants in the solve group were more likely to pick the correct suspect than the judge group ranking. The experiment also showed that those in the all-knowing picked the correct suspect more than the uninformed minority. When comparing group data, the hypothesis that the groups with an informed minority would do better was confirmed. 74% of groups with an informed minority chose the correct suspect compared to 55% of groups with an uninformed minority. The comparison between the all informed groups and the groups with an informed minority was determined to be insignificant. The hypothesis that informed minorities would be more help in the solve case vs the judge was incorrect because the informed minority groups did just as well in both. The hypothesis that solve groups would be more likely to come to the correct conclusion was determined to be false. The solve and judge groups were equally likely to come up with the correct response.

Another article I ready was Studies in Social Influence III: Majority Versus Minority Influence in a Group. This article discusses Moscovici’s experiment with color slides. In this study, participants were shown thirty-six slides that were all different shades of blue. “Confederates” or the minority group, were tasked with incorrectly perceiving the colors as green. Moscovici created different groups to compare minority influence. In the control group, there was obviously no confederate saying the color was green. In another group, there were two confederates who answered inconsistently (green twenty-four times and blue twelve times). The final group also had two confederates but this time they responded green to all thirty-six blues slides. Moscovici’s research determined that consistency plays a large roll in getting people to follow the minority because the group with the consistent confederates turned more study participants.

The final journal I read was The Effects of Differential Ascribed Category Membership and Norms of Minority Influence. This study was conducted to test how people perceived motives and if a double minority would help or hurt their chances of changing the majority’s opinions. For this study, they grouped people based on how conservatively they answered a survey. These groups were presented with laws about the death penalty and abortion. The participants going into the study were a pro-death penalty and anti-abortion. Then these groups were presented with confederates. One group of confederates were women(double minority) and the other group was men. Neither group were able to sway people’s feeling on the death penalty much, but the male confederates were able to sway people’s feelings on abortion more than the female confederates. This showed that being the double minority can actually hurt a minority trying to sway a group because the group perceives that person as maybe doing it for personal gain.

I am doing this research to help determine ways to get the other seven people on my investment firm’s team to change their minds and invest in Facebook instead of MySpace. The first thing that I would do as the minority is be well informed on the argument and bring facts to the table that no one else has. A group with an informed minority is more likely to pick the correct suspect; Therefore going into the discussion group I would bring relevant information about Facebook that the opposition is likely to not know to compare it to MySpace. In providing new information, the seven members of the team that disagree with me are more likely to hear me out if I am well informed on the topic and have facts they are unaware of.

The next thing I would do as the minority is telling myself and the two others who believe the investment should be Facebook to stand our ground. We should never act as though we are considering other options we should stay strong in our decision of investing in Facebook. Consistent minority opinion can often sway majority opinion over time. When the majority can show that they are fully confident in their answer other people are more likely to follow. If we were to be inconsistent as the minority in our allegiance to Facebook or even showed the divide between us as the minority, our chances of convincing the majority would decrease.

The final thing I would do to increase my minority influence is to reassure the team that I have no personal interest in Facebook over MySpace. I need to show that I am unbiased I just want what is best for the investment firm. The motives of a minority are important and if the group believes that the minority is not thinking selfishly they are much more likely to listen. This is a crucial aspect of persuading my colleagues to consider Facebook and understand my motives are not personal.

These journals show how one can improve their chances with minority influence over a group. Stewart and Strasser’s study shows how an informed minority can help a group lead to the correct response quicker and in a deeper discussion. Moscovici’s research with the blues slides presented the importance of confidence in a minority as opposed to being unsure or adapting one’s views. Maass’ findings on what influence a double minority plays on a situation showed how people often present their biases and assume people are always out to help themselves.

Scholarly journals like these prove causation through experiments of ideas we already have about presenting the information. These journals prove the importance of tactics in trying to sway a majority how much social interaction often matters more than true content. When presenting my case to our team of ten I will provide informed information on why Facebook is the right decision by having more relevant information than the opposition. I will also make sure that the three of us that are currently for Facebook stay strong on that and double down in how sure we are that it is the right decision to convince others. Finally, we will hit it home that we have no personal bias, and that we enjoy MySpace we just don't find it to be a better fit investment-wise compared to the very quickly growing Facebook. When we present our information in this confident, informed, and unbias way our team will be swayed to invest in Facebook.  

29 April 2022
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