Prolific blogger and author of SAS for Dummies Chris Hemedinger knows maybe a little too much about his Facebook friends. Presenting his paper titled “Social Networking and SAS: Running PROCs on your Facebook Friends,” Chris shared basic techniques to analyze your friends using SAS and how to harvest your own data from Facebook. The paper was one of the first featured in the new "Social Media and Networking" section this year at SAS Global Forum.
So how does he do it? Chris developed a custom Facebook application that connects to your account and collects your “friends” as data and then turns them into a SAS program with DATALINES. Once the data is there, the sky's the limit with the kinds of interesting reports you can run.
Maybe you are interested in the median age of your Facebook friends, but realize that many don't disclose their actual birthdays (or are purposely vague). In that case, Chris suggests running a report on "ages informed by education history," as many divulge plenty of info about their alma mater and graduation year. Combine those two data sets together and voila - the application can make inferences about those mysterious ages - just be careful who you share your findings with!
"Social media sites generate tremendous data," says Chris. "Advanced analytical techiniques are within reach." If you're interested in applying some of Chris' techniques to your Facebook friends or want to download his custom application, visit his blog, The SAS Dummy for more information.