communication is essential to business making and it involves more than the ability to name your product, write a tag line or a press release. It's an intricate, rational and scalable effort and, let's face it, not anyone can do it.

2/23/2009

The counter-social effect

A while back I was reading about Metcalfe's Law which states "that the value of a telecommunications network is proportional to the square of the number of connected users of the system". This essentially means that the more people there are in a network, the more value there is (wikipedia explains that having a fax machine may not help if nobody else has one but the more fax machines there are the more yours becomes valuable).

Now, one disturbing fact I have noticed about social networks (specifically FB) is that they function like that up to a point.

a) from a monetizing perspective, adding more and more friends indiscriminately literally dilutes the value of your friend group. When you add only key people, you can easily define who your network is and evaluate its influence. When you've added the friends of your friends' friends, all you can say is that your group is very large but not really defined. This means reach, not affinity and online people should look for affinity (this works pretty much like with blogs: currently, the more users you have the more likely you are to monetize your blog with advertising, BUT as interest grows, people are also wanting to target better so they move towards more specialized blogs with clearer followers)

b) from a personal perspective: the more people you add, the less interest you take in reading the updates or checking out what your group has been up to because you cannot relate to all those people. In my case: until now, I have added all and everyone who had asked. Today I hardly ever visit FB anymore because I am sick of learning about the breakfast and dinner plans of people I literally do not know. Basically, the more my network grew, the less interesting it became for me.
By contrast, on twitter where I have restricted my following list, I get more value.

so, hmmm....

2 comments:

Camelia said...

I think the FB issue is related to the Eflactem's Law (Metcalfe in reverse).

JohnG said...

I think there is something in degrees of separation. a second order friend has a different quality or spectrogram than a first order friend. From network theory it seems that 2nd order friends can be more useful for links than first order friends because there is less duplication. But I suspect first order is best for hanging out with. The other degrees of separation are so massive so as to be almost useless. So I would suggest applying a little hierarchy. On twitter I follow first order (or at least within that group) I expect followers from 2nd and 3rd orders.