I have been checking out social network analysis (SNA) tools which allow social network data (directly input or imported from external systems) to be displayed, manipulated and analysed graphically in a number of ways. I was also looking for SNA tools which are free or have a free version. Here’s 4 tools which look very useful!
SNA tools typically allow a number of different types of social network analyses typically:
Centrality as an actor-level coefficient reflects the degree of access to information (or resources) of an actor and hence the probability of that actor to acquire a leadership position in the group. As a network-level coefficient, centrality measures the distribution of information (or power) within the group.
In a communication network, actor-level sociometric coefficients measure the level of communicational activity of a specific actor.
This category of measures is based on the concept of geodesic distance. Given two nodes of a network, say node A and node B, the geodesic distance from A to B is the length of the shortest possible path from A to B.
In terms of specific SNA tools here are 4 which have a free version:
Socilyzer – www.socilyzer.com. Socilyzer is built for managers and consultants to conduct their own basic analyses. The aim of the tool is to make it as easy as possible by integrating questionnaire design, data collection and data visualization. There are also good resources on the website explaining how to interpret the SNA diagrams. Well worth trying out.
SocNetV – “Social Networks Visualiser”. It has a very nice gui, runs on Linux, Windows and Mac, supports GraphML and .net files, and is swift to compute centralities and distances. It does some network layout, as well. Check it out.
NodeXL. NodeXL is a free, open-source template for Microsoft® Excel® 2007 and 2010 that makes it easy to explore network graphs. With NodeXL, you can enter a network edge list in a worksheet, click a button and see your graph, all in the familiar environment Excel. NodeXL is an easy way into SNA for those who like spreadsheets.
Agna is a platform-independent application designed for social network analysis, sociometry and sequential analysis. Agna was the first good tool I found in this area when I wrote the original version of this article way back in 2008. Agna can still be downloaded but I don’t believe there is any support or software updates. Agna still a neat tool and runs on both PC and Mac.
Wikipedia also now has a very useful page Social network analysis software which offers a comprehensive list of nearly 70 SNA tools and summarises them in a table covering Main Functionality, Input Formats, Output Formats, Platforms, Licensing and costs.
Finally, you can check out my change management simulation game which uses SNA to establish the effects of social and reputational influence on key stakeholders in a major company change management programmes.