Social map

Understanding the social connections that influence your users

Practical Information

What is this tool?

A Social map creates a visual overview of the people that a user interacts with and it asks them to add details on how this interaction is experienced. It can be done individually or in an interview setting.

Why do we use it?

When this tool is used with a small sample of users it gives insight into how people are influenced by other people, and gives an indication of the people who can play an important role in a problem and its solution.

Design phase:

Design research


Pen and paper, Print, Online tool


30 minutes - 1 hour

Worksheet Print
Worksheet Digital
Worksheet French
Worksheet Arabic
Worksheet without Text
Worksheet URL

A step-by-step guide

1. Decide on how to use this tool, it can be filled out by participants on their own, or in an interview setting. In the first case you can explain the whole tool and let people fill it out on their own. In the second case you place the map in front of the interviewee and fill it out together.

2. Let the participants follow the instructions on the worksheet. Start with a simple drawing of themselves in the inner circle and add their name, gender and age. 

3. Close around them, they draw the people you are most connected with and add their relationship with them (e.g. sister, friend, teacher. )  Further away, they add people they only meet sometimes. And on the edges, add people they sometimes interact with but who you don’t know very well 

4. To each person, add a symbol of how they feel about them, these can be chosen from the symbols on the worksheet or ask to come up with their own symbols

5. When the map is ready, it is good to ask questions that clarify the map. Based on these questions you add notes to the map or you ask the participants to add the information themselves. The questions could be to specify the location, age, name or why they chose a specific symbol. 

Note: If there is time and a safe space for sharing it would be good to let participants share their insights and reflect on the results.

How other organisations used this tool

How to use the outcomes of the tool?

Use the insights you get from this tool to formulate insights and recommendations that guide your ideation phase. Think about things to avoid, the commonalities and the differences between the group members.

Related tools

Actor network
Being aware of all the actors that have an effect on your design challenge
Use the actor network to identify actors with whom you want to conduct this tool
Lottery game
Generating many creative and fresh ideas
Once you are in the ideation phase you can use the communication channels for the lottery game
Communication map
Understanding which communication channels your users use and how they use them.
The social map can be used alongside the communication map, both provide crucial information about the users

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