When size matters … and when it doesn’t

Posted: July 14, 2011 in Social networking
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Dad, what are those 2 little doors?

Dad, what are those 2 little doors?

I remember waving goodbye to my parents through teary eyes when I was 13, as they drove off leaving me standing there, in my new and completely unfamiliar home to be – boarding school (no sympathy though please, it was more Eaton than Oliver Twist!).

As I walked through the long dormitory corridors for the first time (making sure to swallow that lump in my throat), it became clear to me that there were a few fundamentals to getting along in my new environment 1) new comers stood very little chance and 2) a ghetto blaster counts – the bigger the better (to wow the crowds and drowning out the competition). Yup, it was a strange world I had been left to fend for myself in.

So no surprise then when 20+ years later, I came across a pristine fully functioning ghetto blaster at my mothers house which she had been using as a radio (not to win friends I’m pleased to report), that I became somewhat nostalgic. Wanting to share the moment, I found myself struggling to conjure up a suitable comment to associate with the photo to share on my wall, that the poignancy of Paul Adams research ‘The Real Life Social Network’ on social networking (and how it clearly needs to adapt) hit home.

The premise of Pauls presentation (which I urge anybody in the industry to read) was that we’re just at the very beginning of a very long road in the evolution of social networking. His main point being that the single bucket ‘Friends’ solution is simply inadequate to truly reflect the way we interact and socialise in the real world.

Did I want all my contacts, which includes friends, colleagues, clients and yes, my mother to know about how I felt? The answer is no – if at the very least because I didn’t want to make my age sensitive even more sensitive thinking I was poking fun at her choice of radio publicly! But more so because it was only a small handful of friends that would have appreciated it’s relevance.

Looking back, I realise that the association between ghetto blasters and popularity is as deluded as the association between number of friends and social networking success (whether personally or for business).

All this alludes to the problems that have yet to be solved. Extended to the world of business, what good is a following of 10,000 users on Facebook if as a business you fail to understand the nature of the relationship you have/are forming with them? I think it’s a great question and without answers being offered (yet) from smart people like Paul Adams, it leaves the road ahead wide open and if anything, Google+’s plans for business (as stated by Christian Oestlien from the Google+ team) or Facebook 2.0 interesting things to lookout for.

In the meantime though, have a read of Paul’s thought provoking work…

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