How Much is an Internet Friend Worth?

Today my colleague Stephen Baker published an interesting story on BW.com looking at new research out of MIT and IBM that tries to assign a value to the connections we are forming through social networks and media. I haven’t read the study but it looks like it is a bit of good news for social media companies if respected universities and corporations believe there is a return on investment for all of these new forms of networking and socializing.

It seems pretty obvious that social media is a net positive that adds value to our personal and professional lives. The latest proof? Gary Vaynerchuck just signed a huge 10-book deal with Harper Collins based largely on the significant online following he’s developed. But it’s still interesting to see actual research that backs up that point.

Here’s the top of the story:

Messaging with the boss much? Maybe you ought to be. Workers who have strong communication ties with their managers tend to bring in more money than those who steer clear of the boss, according to a new analysis of social networks in the workplace by IBM and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The research, released this week, even assigns a dollar value to e-mail interaction with an employee’s managers. Among the group studied, several thousand consultants at IBM, those with strong links to a manager produced an average of $588 of revenue per month over the norm.

Check out the story here.

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