Introduction to Social Graph and NodeXL

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Why do we study social networks?

Definition from: A social network is a social structure made up of a set of social actors (such as individuals or organizations) and a set of the dyadic ties between these actors. Social networks and the analysis of them is an inherently interdisciplinary academic field which emerged from social psychology, sociology, statistics, and graph theory.


From “Sociometric explorations reveal the hidden structures that give a group its form: the alliances, the subgroups, the hidden beliefs, the forbidden agendas, the ideological agreements, the ‘stars’ of the show”.


In social networks (like Facebook and Twitter), sociometry can help us understand the diffusion of information and how word-of-mouth works (virality).

Installing NODEXL (Microsoft Excel required)

NodeXL Template 2014


The SocialNetImporter extends the capabilities of NodeXL mainly with extracting data from the Facebook network. To install:

  • Download the latest version of the social importer plugins from
  • Open the Zip file and save the files into a directory you choose, e.g. c:\social
  • Open the NodeXL template (you can click on the Windows Start button and type its name to search for it)
  • Open the NodeXL tab, Import, Import Options (see screenshot below)


  • In the import dialog, type or browse for the directory where you saved your social importer files (screenshot below):



  • Close and open NodeXL again


For older Versions:

  • Visit
  • Download the latest version of NodeXL
  • Unzip the files to a temporary folder
  • Close Excel if it’s open
  • Run setup.exe


  • Visit
  • Download the latest version of the socialnetimporter plug in
  • Extract the files and copy them to the NodeXL plugin direction. Defaults to C:\Program Files\Social Media Research Foundation\NodeXL Excel Template\PlugIns

First steps with NodeXL

The following table is a matrix showing trust within a group of 6 people. An “X” in a cell means that the person who’s name is in the cell’s row trusts the person who’s name is in the cell’s column


Because trust is not automatically reciprocated (Ann trusting Bob does not necessarily mean that Bob trusts Ann), the graph that we will build will be directed.


A directed graph implies that the edges (links) between two vertices (in our example, people) have a direction: A B. An example of a directional graph is Twitter. In Twitter, you can follow a person that does not follow you and vice-versa.


In an undirected graph, the edge is reciprocated. This means that, if you have a connection to a person, this person has the same connection towards you. An example of an undirected graph is Facebook: if A is a friend of B then, automatically, B is a friend of A.

Running NodeXL

  • In the Windows Start menu, click “All Programs”, then “NodeXL,” then “Excel Template.” (in Windows 8, open the tile menu and type “nodexl” to search and find the program)
  • Notice the new “NodeXL” tab in the Ribbon:


Drawing your first network graph

Open the vertices sheet and enter the name of the persons from the social matrix provided (above):


Go to the edges sheet and enter the name of the trusting person in the Vertex 1 column and the name of the trusted person in Vertex 2.


On the new NodeXL tab, define the graph as “directed”.


Click the “show graph” button for a visual representation of your graph:


Copy the names in the Label column and refresh your graph to have the names displayed next to the vertices:



To replace vertices with images, copy and paste photo links (from Facebook profile photos or elsewhere) into the image column and define the shape (in the shape column) as “Image”:


Refresh the graph:


Analyzing Data

To calculate the metrics from the graph, go to the NodeXL tab and click on “Graph Metrics”:


Click on the “Select All” button and “calculate metrics”:


Understanding Metrics

In the Vertices sheet, scroll the right to display the metrics columns:


  • In degree: most trusted person (Edna, Bob). It is a count for the number of “arrows” that link to the person (people who trust the vertex).
  • Out degree: most trustful (Edna, Fred, Claire). It is a count for the number of “arrows” that go out from this person (how many people are trusted by the vertex).
  • Prestige is a metric you can choose to calculate yourself, it is the number of links to the person divided by the total number of possible links (in this example, the maximum would be 5 links or 5 people trusting the 6th person). A prestige of 1 means that “everyone trusts the vertex”


  • Betweeness centrality (Centralité d’intermédiarité) : A high number means that the person is in a central position in the graph. This metrics is based on the shortest paths between all people in the graph. It measures how important a node is by counting the number of shortest paths that it is a part of.

how many pairs of individuals would have to go through the vertex in order to reach one another in the minimum number of hops?



  • Closeness Centrality (Centralité de proximité) : who has faster access to information (in case of information diffusion). This number is an evaluation of the average distance to all nodes in the network.

What if it is not so important to have many direct friends? or be “between” others. Yet, one still wants to be in the “middle” of things, not too far from the center.



  • Eigenvector Centrality (Centralité vectorielle) : Eigenvector centrality calculates the position of a node to all other nodes in the network by giving a weight based on the distance (La centralité vectorielle essaie de mesurer l’importante ou l’influence d’un nœud dans le réseau en donnant un poids relatif à chaque lien du réseau. L’idée étant que la centralité d’un nœud est égale à la centralité des liens auxquels il est rattaché. à on tient compte de l’importance des liens auquel il est attaché). It is different from betweeness centrality in the sense that it considers all paths between nodes, not only the shortest one.

Eigenvector Centrality measures the importance of a node by the importance of its neighbors.


Eigenvector centrality is a measure of the influence of a node in a network. It assigns relative scores to all nodes in the network based on the concept that connections to high-scoring nodes contribute more to the score of the node in question than equal connections to low-scoring nodes


  • Centralité de Katz and page rank: Alors que le degré de centralité mesure le nombre de liens adjacents, la centralité de Katz mesure tous les nœuds qui peuvent être connectés à travers un chemin en pénalisant les nœuds distants.


Katz and Page Rank Centrality are a median solution between degree centrality (shortest paths) and eigenvector centrality (all paths) as they measure the number of all nodes that can be connected through a path, while the contributions of distant nodes are penalized.


  • Clustering coefficient : The clustering coefficient is a measure of an “all-my-friends-know-each-other” property. If the value of the Clustering Coefficient is equal to 1, this means that each of my friends is friend with all the others.


  • Reciprocated vertex pair ratio: reciprocated vertex pair ratio: ratio between ingoing and outgoing connections (only valid in directed graphs).





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NetVizz to NodeXL converter

This is a small conversion tool I have developed to convert NetVizz files (GDF) to NodeXL files (GraphML).


This tool works on all versions of Windows and has been tested with the “personal network” friends list extraction option in NetVizz.


NetVizz is a free Facebook App located at NetVizz extracts Facebook data from personal timelines and pages.


NodeXL is a free, open-source template for Microsoft® Excel® 2007, 2010 and 2013 that makes it easy to explore network graphs. It can be downloaded from


NetVizz (GDF) to NodeXL (GraphML) is freeware.

Current Version:

NetVizz2NodeXL 2.0 Setup file for Windows

– Extracts field titles from GDF file

– Now with a progress bar

Earlier Versions:

NetVizz2NodeXL 1.0 setup file for Windows


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Protecting your Facebook account with Login Approvals – Easy Steps

To protect your Facebook account from hackers, you can set it up to send notifications on failed login attempts and require double checks via sms when you use new devices to access your account.

Here are the steps:

Step 1: To receive notification on failed attempts, from your personal laptop or desktop, go to your timeline, click on the small arrow in the menu, then “settings”, “security”. In “Login Notifications”, request a “text message push notification” and/or an “email” and click “save changes”.


Step 2: Click on “Login Approvals”, then “Require a security code…”. A new window will open, click on “Get Started”.


Step 3: Click on “Continue”


Step 4: Make sure your number is correct or change it. Get the code from your text message and “Continue”


Step 5: Re-enter your password and “submit”


Step 6: check the “No thanks” box, click on Close.


Step 7: From the left menu, reopen “Security” and “Login Approvals”. Make sure the “require a security code…” is checked. Otherwise, check it and “Save Changes”.


Step 8 (optional): In “Security”, “Login Approvals”, click on “Get codes”



Step 9: Enter your password. Remember at least one code if you happen to be somewhere where you don’t have access to your phone.


For more information about this feature, click here.


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Banning bad fans from a Facebook page


Facebook fans are the organic (free, by default) seeding population of the updates of a Facebook page (posts, cover changes, events, etc.). Depending on the number of fans of the page and the way fans react to its posts, Facebook will distribute updates to 1 to 35% of the fans (average of 11 to 13%). If this initial seeding population engages with the updates (likes, comments, shares), a percentage of their friends is automatically notified, creating snowball and bandwagon effects.


Community managers don’t have any control over the initial distribution of the updates (which 11% of the fans will receive the update?). This is why they should feel concerned by their fan population and focus on quality rather than quantity: a fake or passive fan can be a dead-end to the information flow. Also, even if they are active, some fans can be image breakers to the product (poor language, silly comments, vulgar profile picture, etc.).


The following steps describe the procedure to completely eliminate “bad” fans:

1. On the top of the page, click on “Settings” (Administrators of the page)


2. Click on “Banned Users”


3. Choose “People Who Like This” from the drop-down menu


4. Click on the settings icon next to the user you want to ban – and then “Remove”


5. Check “Ban Permanently” and “Confirm” your choice





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6 Common mistakes businesses make on Facebook

Online Social Networks (OSN) are the new trend in marketing. Every business wants to be on Facebook but it all seems to be revolving around a single variable, the number of fans. The number of fans – even fake ones – seems to arouse entrepreneurs and business man and give them a (false) feeling of success. Reality is that virtual fans don’t always make real customers and there is more to social media than a fan count.

1.     Likes and Customers

The first and most common mistake an entrepreneur could made is confuse fans (likes) with customers. Research has shown that, on the personal level, the number of friends has a positive association with the feeling of well-being. This is why most people tend to increase their online social capital by adding acquaintances and even relative (or complete) strangers as friends. Yet, the same studies show that online popularity does not translate to a better status IRL (in real life). Managers are falling into the same trap and online media salespersons are luring them with fan counts and “virtual” fame. Terms like “brand awareness”, “virality”, “e-WOM” (electronic word of mouth), SMM (Social Media Marketing), etc., are carefully used as decoys to prevent the manager from seeing the real problem at hand: how to increase the number of offline customers.


Simply put: Fans are a liability, customers an asset. All fans are not customers! If you don’t have your figures right, you may end up paying for the illusion of fame without any return on investment. As your online social network evolves towards an “unnatural” mix of people, its attraction to real customers will decrease and the system will probably backfire at some point.


Moreover, recent studies show that, as the number of fans increases, their engagement diminishes. This can be explained by the difference in nature between small groups (elite groups, strong ties, high centrality, high density, etc.) and very large groups (low density, heterogeneous community, etc.).

2.     Value of fans

The second common OSN mistake is thinking that “all fans are equal”. This is definitely not true. In sociometric terms, fans can be hubs, bridges or fringes. Hubs are highly connected people within your network. When a hub comments or likes, dozens of people are immediately notified by Facebook. Bridges are links between your network and other networks. Fringes are the extremities of your own network. They are hard to reach.


Sociometry also offers other metrics like centrality that will help you understand the flow of information and the importance of each individual fan, independently, within your network.


Any serious OSN strategy should focus on targeting one or the other type of fans using proper methods and strategies for each different type. For instance, a politician would target bridges between his network and his adversary’s network to convert people from the other network to his side. A company, on the other hand, could decide to target hubs when announcing a promotion for regular customers or fringes when trying to expand its customer base.


Moreover, your initial group of fans (initial seeding population) is the cornerstone of your online presence: choose the right fans to start with and your network will grow naturally and efficiently; start with the wrong fans and your mess will be harder and harder to clean as your (unwanted) fans count grows.


Strategists also talk about “influencers” and “super-fans” because it often takes one fan to make or break a brand.

3.     Fake likes

The industry of fake fans is rapidly growing with new services like fake posts and fake comments as additional services. A recent article talks about 40% of fake fans for French artists and politicians. With or without notifying the customer, some social media services companies will buy packets of fans either to lure the client or customers and real fans.

Of all the bad online strategies, this is undeniably the worst:

–  There are several methods to detect a fake population, especially when you try to exceed your fan base beyond any logic. One of the ways to detect this is through last week’s “most popular city”, a metric available to any fan. The reason is that fake fan don’t always match your default customer profile (gender, country, age). So, if you’re a Lebanese company trying to buy tens or hundreds of thousands of friends at a good price, you’ll probably end up buying Egyptian, Iraki or far-east fans.

caption: Standard metrics for two Lebanese companies following a significant fan increase
Standard metrics for two Lebanese companies following a significant fan increase

Other methods can also be used to verify the authenticity and origin of fans using the new Graph Search, for example: “Fans of a-Facebook-page who live in Iraq”.

Iraqi Facebook fans of a Lebanese page
Iraqi Facebook fans of a Lebanese page


–   When you post information on your page or profile, Facebook transmits it to 13 to 17% of your fans (empirical statistics), sometimes less. If half of your population is fake, this is approximately half your reach going to waste. If you’re paying to boost (promote) your posts, this is half of your money gone.


– All your metrics and statistics will be biased and any future communication strategy will be based on erroneous estimations.


– The maintenance cost of a fake fan is exactly the same as a real fan minus the benefits.


4.     Virality & Frequency


The most ridiculous and recurring advice managers hear and follow is: “publish more posts to attract more fans”. Of course, the statement is carefully loaded with the usual flashy social media talk: “virality”, “awareness”, etc.


This urban OSN legend about frequency and success has made its way throughout social networks: business men think or are often advised to post more frequently to increase virality and attract more fans. In fact, more posts are an increasing “unlike” risk. People get bored, see this as harassment. In short, they don’t want to hear about their favorite brand every day but only when it counts.


Frequency is a very delicate matter. It’s easy to determine the right amount of posts for a blog or a website because your main objective is to get noticed by Google and people come to you when they need to (Google search), not the other way round (Facebook newsfeed).


Virality is not linked to frequency. If you manage to create a viral post, you won’t need to post another one as long as the contagion is increasing. If you post a video and it starts spreading at the rate of 1,000 views per day, your smartest move would be to promote it more, not to post other information. With its “KONY 2012” video, Invisible Children inc. reached more than 97 million people worldwide and mobilized thousands of people AFK (away from keyboard). The same can be said about Matt Harding with his series (one video every 2-4 years): “where in the world is Matt?”

Matt Harding mobilizes hundreds of complete strangers worldwide to meet with him at specific locations and dance
Matt Harding mobilizes hundreds of complete strangers worldwide to meet with him at specific locations and dance

As a business example, with its crazy idea of blending everything on video (iPhones, iPads, marbles, golf balls, even CDs of Justin Bieber, etc.), Blentec became the most notorious manufacturer of blenders worldwide.


The main idea is to prioritize quality over quantity. People have a limited time to spend on Facebook every day. They need their timeline to be neat and interesting. If they get ten posts from the same company every week, chances are they will unlike the page. Avoid the usual “hello world”, “trivia quiz”, “quote of the day”, “funniest joke”, “TGIF”, and other completely irrelevant posts, you don’t want fans liking you because you’re funny, you want them to like you because you’re funny – or not – AND because your product is something they will like and buy.


In short, frequency is important but should be combined to quality: if you have nothing smart to say, say nothing.


5.     What is the cost of fans?


The fifth mistake is underestimating or overestimating your costs. It is important for an entrepreneur to know what are the different costs at hand:

– Strategy: This is the building of the action plan. Usually handled by a consultant or a specialist. Prices vary depending on the person or company’s qualification.

– Content creation: this is the creation of text, photos, videos based on the strategy. Prices vary depending on the person or company’s qualification and the type (text, video, photos) and number of posts to be created.

– Fake fans: the cost for fake fans (not recommended) starts at around $8 for each 1,000 fake fans. Depending on the nationality of the fake fans, prices can climb up to around $17 or $20 per 1,000 fans.

– Real fans: the average cost for real fans, based on statistics, varies from $0.5 to $2. This includes any type of Facebook advertising or promotion used. Of course, cost will vary over time. Based on experience, the marginal cost for a fan (cost for every additional fan) will decrease when you start your campaign (first few thousands likes) and then increase as you try to get more and more fans.

Sample Facebook fan marginal cost curve
Sample Facebook fan marginal cost curve

6.     Reach and dispersion


One metric that is often disregarded is the reach. Basically, when you post information, you can reach fans, friends of fans, friends of friends of fans, etc., to the nth degree. Basically, you can have 1,000 fans and reach 50,000 people or a million depending on the heterogeneity of your network, on the virality of your message and on your post promotions (ads).


There are three types of reach:

– Organic: Facebook will display your post, free of charge, in average, to 10 to 17% (based on statistics) of your fans.

– Viral: if these fans like or comment your post, 10 to 17% of their friends are informed, and so forth. This is also free.

– Paid: You can “pay” Facebook to boost your post (pay for additional organic reach by displaying your post to more fans and friends of fans) or target a broader range of people related or unrelated to you (by country, age, sex, interest, etc.) using other types of Facebook ads.


It is important to mention that, if your network is composed of, let’s say, 50% of fake fans, a corresponding amount of messages will be propagated to these fake fans and thus lost in cyberspace with no ROI. This is why it is important for a business to think about his online social capital not as a total of likes but as a group of individual fans, customers, influencers, advocates, etc.


The difference between fans and customers is huge. Yet, most of the time, managers fail to see it. By experience, I saw companies forced to increase their prices to cover the expenses incurred on Facebook to grow and maintain their Facebook fan base.

Ask yourself how come you have tens of thousands of fans on Facebook and only a few hundreds buying from your store. Ask yourself how you’re going to cover for the expenses of a Facebook fan campaign if your product’s price is 1$. Ask yourself if your strategy is bringing customers to your shop, not fans to your Facebook page. Ask yourself what is the formula to translate virtual fans into real customers knocking on your door…

Before going social, ask yourself the traditional, old fashioned, down-to-earth questions that count.

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Fake Spam Facebook Friends Hit the Lebanese market

60723_4346704353426_141105871_nKenza Cullen (Photo) and other lovely blondes and brunettes are trying to make friends with Lebanese facebookers. Unfortunately for you, Kenza Cullen is a fake person and this photo is the photo of Kenza Zouiten, a half Swedish, half Moroccan model.


The idea is simple: people are more influenced by friends and acquaintances (strong and weak ties) than by ads. So, why not have (fake) friends tell you about what is new and good?

“Fake Kenza” has already posted about TSC, Crepaway, Bridgestone, Mike Sport and many others. She already has 157 friends who are receiving her posts on their timeline…



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Writing Upside Down in Twitter, Facebook, Website, etc.

If you ever need to do this, the short way is to go to, type, copy and paste the text anywhere else.


For a detailed explanation of how this work, visit:

This works perfectly on Facebook and Twitter (including their mobile apps) but will not work on all websites, especially if you’re using an admin to manage them (including WordPress).

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Facebook pages Lebanese people like…

Based on Social Bakers (, the 10 pages with the highest number of Lebanese fans (as of June 19, 2013) are:

Rank Page Lebanese Fans Total Fans
1 Texas HoldEm Poker 382,618 70,365,082
2 Master Chips 262,981 404,264
3   I dream of Lebanon 259,581 437,451
4   SAYFCO HOLDING 244,524 2,336,992
5   Nancy Ajram 190,311 5,547,814
6   Cyrine Abdelnour 167,229 1,04,4173
7   Georges Khabbaz 156,773 216,096
8   Nadine Al Rassi 154,331 261,241
9   Trident 151,819 10,167,898
10   Trident (ME) 151,479 157,096
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Facebook Photoshop Templates

Click here for the updated template (May 2015) or continue reading


These templates will help you customize your Facebook profile or Facebook pages. Useful to have a picture-in-picture effect, a profile picture that completes the cover page photo, a profile picture that extends the cover photo or multiple profile pictures embedded within the cover page.

click on the images to download the Photoshop files (PSD) in Zip format. Tutorials coming soon.

Profile Template


Page Template


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