Sinan Aral is the David Austin Professor of Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management where he holds a joint appointment in the IT and Marketing groups and co-leads the Initiative on the Digital Economy.

Sinan is a leading expert on Social Networks, Social Media and Digital Strategy. He has worked closely with Facebook, Yahoo, Microsoft, the New York Times, IBM, Cisco, Intel, Oracle, SAP and many other leading Fortune 500 firms on realizing business value from social media and information technology investments.

Sinan's research focuses on social contagion, product virality and measuring and managing how information diffusion in massive social networks such as Twitter and Facebook affects information worker productivity, consumer demand and viral marketing. This research has won numerous awards including the Microsoft Faculty Fellowship, the PopTech Science Fellowship, an NSF CAREER Award and multiple Best Paper Awards. He was also recently named one of the “World’s Top 40 Business School Professors Under 40” by Poets & Quants.

Sinan has been a Fulbright Scholar and served as Chief Scientist and on the board of directors of SocialAmp, a social commerce company that enables targeting and peer referral in social media networks (which was sold to Merkle in January, 2012). He is currently Chief Scientist at Humin, the smart social navigation startup that is creating the Google Maps for your social world. He is also the Scholar-in-Residence at the New York Times R&D Lab, and an organizer of the Workshop on Information in Networks (WIN) and the Conference on Digital Experimentation (CODE).

He is a frequent speaker at such thought leading events as Data Gotham, TEDxSiliconValley, TEDxColumbia Engineering, TEDxNYU, ADSCon, Wired’s “Nextwork” and PopTech and has been the keynote speaker at executive gatherings such as Omnicom’s Global “Emerge” Summit. His work is often featured in popular press outlets such as the Economist, the New York Times, Businessweek, Wired, Fast Company and CIO Magazine.

Sinan is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Northwestern University, holds masters degrees from the London School of Economics and Harvard University, and received his PhD from MIT.

You can find him on Twitter @sinanaral.

Here is a Wordle of his NSF CAREER Award Proposal:

The Conference on Digital Experimentation (CODE)
website: (coming soon)
winlogo The Workshop on Information in Networks (WIN)

Published and Forthcoming Papers

Tie Strength, Embeddedness & Social Influence: Evidence from a Large Scale Networked Experiment. Management Science. (with D. Walker) Technical Appendix.

Social Influence Bias: A Randomized Experiment. Science. (with L Muchnik and Sean J. Taylor)

Engineering Social Contagions: Optimal Network Seeding in the Presence of Homophily. Network Science. (with L Muchnik and A Sundararajan)

IT, Repeated Contracts & the Number of Suppliers. Management Science. (with Y Bakos and E Brynjolfsson, Conditionally Accepted)

Information in Digital, Economic and Social Networks. Information Systems Research. (with A Sundararajan, F Provost and G Oestreicher-Singer)

Poked to Vote. Nature.

Identifying Influential and Suscpetible Members of Social Networks. Science. (with D Walker)

Information, Technology & Information Worker Productivity. Information Systems Research. (with E Brynjolfsson and M Van Alstyne)

Three Way Complimentarities: Performance Pay, HR Analytics and Information Technology. Management Science. (with E Brynjolfsson and L Wu)

The Diversity-Bandwidth Tradeoff. American Journal of Sociology. (with M Van Alstyne)

Creating Social Contagion through Viral Product Design: A Randomized Trial of Peer Influence in Networks. Management Science (with D Walker)

Identifying Social Influence in Networks Using Randomized Experiments. IEEE Intelligent Systems. (with D Walker)

Forget Viral Marketing: Make the Product Itself Viral. Harvard Business Review

Identifying Social Influence: A Comment on Opinion Leadership and Social Contagion in New Product Diffusion. Marketing Science.

Distinguishing Influence Based Contagion from Homophily Driven Diffusion in Dynamic Networks. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. (with L Muchnik and A Sundararajan)

Computational Social Science. Science. (with 14 co-authors)

IT Assets, Organizational Capabilities & Firm Performance: How Resource Allocations and Organizational Differences Explain Performance Variation. Organization Science. (with P Weill)

Generating Premium Returns on Your IT Investments. Sloan Management Review. (with P Weill)

Anticipating Outbreaks: A Prevention Role for Integrated Information Systems. Sexually Transmitted Diseases. (with S Berman and S Aral)

Working Papers and Papers Under Review

Anatomy and Dynamics of Vision Advantages. (with V David)

Water Cooler Networks: Performance Implications of Informal Interaction Structures in Information Intensive Work. (with B Waber, L Wu, E Brynjolfsson and S Pentland) 

Sociometric Badges: A New Tool for IS Research. (with B Waber, D Olguin Olguin, L Wu E Brynjolfsson and S Pentland)

Content and Context: Identifying the Impact of Qualitative Information on Consumer Choice. (with P Ipeirotis and S Taylor)

Antecedents and Consequences of Mutual Knowledge in Teams . (with E Brynjolfsson and M Van Alstyne)

Productivity Effects of Information Diffusion in Networks. (with E Brynjolfsson and M Van Alstyne)

Which Came First, IT or Productivity? The Virtuous Cycle of Investment and Use in Enterprise Systems. (with E Brynjolfsson and DJ Wu)

Regional Economic Context and the Value of Firm-Level IT Investment. (with L Wu and V Morabito)

Aral, Escobari, Nishina (2001) "Assessing Network Applications for Economic and Social Development: Sustainable Access in Rural India" (Position Paper of the Sustainable Access in Rural India (SARI) Project).
(with D Walker)

Past Projects

The Social and Economic Explorations of Information Technology (SeeIT) Project - a five-year multidisciplinary, longitudinal study of the effects of information technology on organizational and work practices. This research is funded by the National Science Foundation grant number IIS-0085725. also see: Business Models Sub-Project - a developing framework for identifying and classifying business models by firm activities and revenue streams.

IT Investment Portfolios and Firm Performance - An econometric evaluation of the relationship between strategic allocations of information technology investments and firm performance conducted through the Center for Information Systems Research at MIT.

SARI (Sustainable Access in Rural India) Project - dedicated to demonstrating that the creation, deployment, and delivery of information and communication services and technologies in poor rural areas leads to improvements in health, empowerment, learning, and economic development amongst the poorest and most disadvantaged communities - and that such services can be realized in an economically sustainable fashion.

VillaNet - a longitudinal assessment of the impact of access to information and communication technology and training in a low income community in South Boston. *This project is currently on hold.*




Twitter: @sinanaral



Recent Awards

Microsoft Faculty Fellowship

PopTech Science Fellowship


IBM Faculty Award

Best Overall Paper
ICIS 2008

Best Dissertation  
ICIS 2007

Best Overall Paper
ICIS 2006

Best Paper
IT Economics,
ICIS 2006

Best Paper
IT Business Value,
ICIS 2006

Press Mentions
The Science of Reddit.
- TechCrunch.

Likes Breed Likes: Study Finds Herding Behavior amongst Commenters.”
- NBC News.

Facebook Likes May Be Infectious.”
- Fast Company.

Online Likes Can Create Sheep Mentality.”
- Discovery News.

Upvotes, Downvotes and the Science of the Reddit Hivemind.”
- Popular Mechanics.

Like this Article Online? Your Friends Will Probably Approve Too, Scientists Say.”
- New York Times.

Wisdom Not Always With the Crowd, Study Finds.”
- Boston Globe.

Facebook’s Latest Data Science Insight: Sharing Ain’t Always Caring.
- MIT Technology Review.

Facebook ‘likes’ can reveal users’ politics, sexual orientation, IQ.”
- Science News.

Justin Timberlake Tries to Reinvent Myspace – But there’s no App for that.
- NBC News.

The Rising Science of Social Influence – How Predictable is Your Online Behaviour?
- Tech Crunch.

"Who Controls Social Networks."
- Science

"Dear Klout, This is How You Measure Influence"
-Tech Crunch

"The Rising Science of Social Influence"
- Tech Crunch

"Facebook Study Finds Men, Married People are Most Influential"
- LA Times

"Social Scientists Wade Into the Tweet Stream"
- Science

"Unlocking Viral Secrets on Facebook"
- Fast Company

"Commerce Gets Social: How Social Networks are Driving What You Buy"
- Wired

"Buddy System"
- Wired

"Mine Your Business"
- Communications of the ACM

"Data, Data Everywhere"
- The Economist

"Putting a Price on Social Connections"
- Businessweek

"Everything is Contagious"
- Slate

"Deriving Real Value from the Social Graph"
- Nick Carr

"Five Ways IT Can Avoid A Privacy Lawsuit"
- CIO Magazine

"Slow Down, Brave Multitasker, and Don't Read This in Traffic"
- New York Times

"What Makes Information Workers Productive?"
- Sloan Management Review

"The Love-In: The Move to Open Innovation is Beginning to Transform Entire Industries"
- The Economist

"Sinan Aral Wins NSF CAREER Award"
- NYU Today


Social Contagion - Pop Tech

Networks, Information and Brokerage: The Diversity Bandwidth Tradeoff  - London School of Economics (LSE)

Purpose of the Workshop on Information in Networks (WIN) - NYU

Distinguishing Influence from Homophily in Dynamic Networks - NYU

Information, Networks and Economic Outcomes - Harvard

Using Social Data to Grow in a Down Economy - SAP

Computational Social Science Panel - Harvard

Modeling Social Behavior - National Institutes of Health (NIH)
(The talk begins about 5 hours and 29 minutes in)


Viral Product Design and Identifying Peer Influence in Networks Using Randomized Trials

Productivity Effects of Investments in Enterprise Software

Speaking Engagements

Watch Recent Talks Here:
(Click on an Image)

Sinan Aral discusses influence in networks
Data Gotham 2012

TEDxSV 2011

PopTech Short 2011

ICWSM Keynote 2011

Nextwork 2011

Pop Tech 2010

Older Talks:

Academy of Management Conference, Montreal, CA. August 2010.

KDD Workshop on Social Media Analytics, Washington, DC. July 2010.

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), Cambridge, MA. July 2010.

Sunbelt Social Networks Conference, Lake Garda, IT. June 2010.

Yahoo!, Sunnyvale, CA. May 2010.

International Conference on Network Science. Cambridge, MA. May  2010.

Microsoft, Redmond, WA. April 2010.

NYU-Poly Workshop on Cloud Computing, New York, NY. April 2010.

Stevens Institute of Technology. Hoboken, NJ. March 2010.

Winter IS Conference, Univeristy of Utah. March 2010.

MIT Center for Digital Business, Cambridge, MA. March, 2010.

Wharton, Marketing Department. Philepelphia, PA. January, 2010.

Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. Hong Kong, January, 2010.

National University of Singapore, Department of Computing.

Singapore, January, 2010.

Global Leaders Conference: META - The Rise and Governance of Information About Information.

Singapore, January, 2010.

International Conference on Information Systems. December 2009.

Workshop on Information Systems Economics. December 2009 [PDF]

Harvard University, Meeting on Methodology for Empirical Research on Social Interactions, Social Networks and Health (MERSIH). Cambridge, MA. November, 2009.

University of Maryland, Dept. of Decision, Operations and Information Technologies. College Park, MD. October, 2009.

MIT, Center for Information Systems Research.
Cambridge, MA. November, 2009.

University of Chicago. Innovations, Organzations and Society Conference. Chicago, IL. October, 2009.

Workshop on Information in Networks (WIN). NYU Stern School of Business. New York, NY. September, 2009.

Academy of Management Conference.  Panelist: Reality Mining PDW. Chicago, IL. August, 2009.

NBER Summer Institute. Cambridge, MA. July 2009.

London Business School - Joint with Management Sciences and Strategy. London, UK. July 2009.

London School of Economics - Department of Management. London, UK. July 2009.

London School of Economics - Centre for Economic Performance. London, UK. July 2009.

Conference of the Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory. Ischia, Italy. July 2009.

International Conference on Network Science. Venice, Italy. July 2009.

Sunbelt Social Networks Conference. March 2009 [PDF]

Winter IS Conference, Univeristy of Utah. February 2009. [PDF]

International Conference on Information Systems. December 2008. [PDF]

Workshop on Information Systems Economics. December 2008 [PDF]

National Institutes of Heath, Meeting on Modeling Social Behavior.
November 2008. [PDF]

SAP Academic Symposium. August 2008. [PDF]

MIT, CIO Symposium and Center for Digital Business Annual Conference.
May 2008. [PDF]

Stanford University, Management Science & Engineering Department. January 2008.

Harvard  University, Eric M. Mindich Conference on Computational Social Science, December 2007. [Video 1; Video 2]

Workshop on Information Systems Economics. December 2007 [PDF]

International Conference on Information Systems. December 2007.

Informs Annual Meeting. November 2007. [PDF]

Chicago Graduate School of Business. October, 2007. [PDF]

Harvard Business School. October, 2007. [PDF]

IBM Watson Research Center - Services Research Seminar Series. October 2007. [PDF]

Academy of Management Conference. August 2007. [PDF]

NBER Summer Institute. July 2007. [PDF]

SAP Academic Symposium. June 2007. [PDF]

International Conference on Network Science (NetSci07). May 2007. [PDF] | [PDF]

Center for Digital Business, MIT. CIO Symposium and Annual Conference. May 2007. [PDF]

Sunbelt Social Networks Conference. May 2007 [PDF]

NBER Productivity Program Meeting. March 2007. [PDF]

Winter IS Conference, Univeristy of Utah. February 2007. [PDF]

Center for Digital Business, MIT- Information Worker Productivity Workshop. February 2007. [PDF] | [PDF]

TRIUM Program, NYU. January 2007. [PDF]

Workshop on Information Systems Economics. December 2006 [PDF]

International Conference on Information Systems. December 2006 [PDF] | [PDF]

Center for Digital Business Lunch Series, MIT. November 2006 [PDF]

Yahoo! Social Networks Workshop, July 2006. [PDF]

Affiliated Research Centers