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Abstract

This paper examines a highly used social networking site (SNS) by studying the behavior of more than 11 million members over a 20 month period. The importance of the most highly active members to the overall network is demonstrated by the significant fraction of total visits by extremely active members in a given period but such members have surprisingly short lifespans (an average of only 2.5 months) as social hubs. We form and test a number of hypotheses concerning these social hubs and the determinants of their lifespan. We find that the speed of achieving social hub status increases the lifespan of a social hub. The norm of reciprocity is strongly confirmed to be present in the social hub population as visits are reciprocated. We also find that increasing local dominance in terms of activities over neighboring agents leads to a longer lifespan of a social hub. Contrary to expectations, local clustering in the vicinity of social hubs is smaller (rather than larger) than overall clustering. We discuss managerial implications in the paper.

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