What is Network Science?

If you’ve been following Embryo for any length of time, you’ll almost certainly have heard the term ‘Network Science’ floating around.

If you’ve not – don’t worry, you’re in the right place! In this post, we’ll be taking a look at what network science is, how it affects us in digital, and why we keep talking about it!

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So, What is Network Science?

Network Science is the practice of studying these networks and the relationships between them.

For a quick explainer, take a look at this video where James, our Chief Innovation Officer, breaks down the basics of Network Science and how it affects marketing.

Broadly, network science can be applied to thousands of different fields – from computing and telecoms to sociology, psychology, and marketing. Network science can also be applied to biology, physics and the natural world – for example, a beehive relies on networks for the safety and longevity of the colony.

In a beehive, you might find the following networks:

  • Types of bees – the queen bee, worker bees, and drones.
  • The age of bees – younger bees tend to congregate in the middle of the hive, while older bees are closer to the edges of the physical network.
  • The different roles of bees – attendants to the queen, guard bees, forager bees, nurse bees and more.

These networks can grow, shrink, split, combine, and change over time depending on the needs of the colony. All of these different networks interact within themselves, and with each other, to support and ensure the hive remains safe, stable, and has everything it needs to thrive.

The same is true of people.

Your family and extended family, people you work with, people in a running club, people who get the same train to the office every day. All of these people make up a network of some kind.

Natalie Davenport, the owner of Quinte5sence Limited recently attended one of Embryo’s network science training sessions:

“James made me think… full stop. In fact, I can’t stop thinking about network science. From the galaxy, to neutrons, airports and logistics to some campaigns I’ve created, they all use network science as a basis. The really interesting thing now is how do I take it and use it to build businesses and brands in the future?”

Understanding Networks

Network mapping is a way of visualising the networks we study. At first glance, network maps might look like a jumble of dots, lines, and hexagons, but there’s a method to the madness!

To best understand a network, we need to look at a few different factors:

  • The type of network – where has it come from and what ties these people together?
  • The size and connectivity of a network – how big is it, and how strong are the connections?
  • The key people/nodes in a network – where are the most valued connections, and where is trust or connection lower.

How Does Network Science Affect Digital Marketing?

Networks underpin everything in the modern world and are especially significant in the world of marketing. Ultimately, for the brands we work with, marketing is about expanding and strengthening their networks.

Growing an existing customer base requires an understanding of who that ideal customer is, what their networks look like, and which of those networks are relevant to the companies we work with. We then have to identify ways of reaching those networks and capturing their attention to build new relationships and connections.

Of course, networks aren’t just your customers. For Embryo, important networks include our clients, but we also work to engage with networks of potential customers, other agencies we can learn from and collaborate with, agency partners who offer different services to us, potential new team members, experts and leaders in the digital industry, Manchester businesses and business owners, our charity partners, our suppliers, the building managers for our office space – the list goes on!

For any business, there are multiple, often interconnected, networks that you’ll need to target.

Why is Network Science so Important at Embryo

At Embryo, every member of our team learns about network science within their first few months working with us.

This understanding of network science helps us all do our jobs better, whether that’s in leadership, operations, account management, or delivery.

As Claire, SEO Account Manager puts it:

“From an SEO point of view, I think learning about network science really highlighted to me the benefit of topic clustering and building user-focused content, even if it won’t rank for high search volume terms. It’s all about building the network, the authority and using internal linking and outreach to then keep building the network wider.”

James Welch runs regular insightful sessions on network science for our team and people in our network (that could be you!). To learn more about network science, why it’s so important, and why we’re so obsessed with it, get in touch!

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