Everywhere you look there’s a social network. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, garner the most attention. People hype size. Internet pundits, marketers and especially those focused on search engine optimization (SEO) are constantly comparing the number or users and followers. But does size matter? Consider all the real life clubs, fraternities, churches, non-profits and alumni associations (and the list goes on and on) like the Rotary club and Elks club. Are they less important because they are smaller? Isn’t it about relationships and connections – others that you help and will help you back?
Consider your son or daughter (or when you were a child.) Could you imagine being on a really really big 100 person soccer team? It would be ridiculous. Value is created in small intimate relationships. This fascination with social network size is equally ridiculous. Consider next time you are pondering the size of you social network – does size matter?
Social Networks are all around us. Sociologist have long studied societies social fabric. But for most of us, social relationships are out of mind and out of sight. We have always just worked or played together. We connect with others so often that we don’t even notice those connections. Only because Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter display in big numbers your first, second and third degree networks that we have begun to question what do those connections really mean.
Like you, before my work at Lnx Research, I looked at networks as just something that resulted from networking. But now I’m an armchair sociologist. As a BizKnowlogist (one who studies business, knowledge and technology) I’ve read more than 200 peer review papers and other publications on social networks. I learned to translate that scientific gobbledy-gook into a common everyday understanding.
As an armchair sociologist my worldview has changed. Behind our everyday relationships, I see the universal patterns that occur over and over again. These patterns occur in all groups, from small group to really huge. They occur in our city designs, and our road systems. These patterns occur in rivers and trees; in our brains; in electronics and many other systems. The social patterns in California are the same patterns we find in China. I now look at everything as if it where a network — even the simple tree. The tree’s strength is not the trunk but the root system and branches that are giant networks gathering and distributing nutrients to its entire ecosystem.
In this blog I will share with you my thoughts on social networks, how to analyze them, and how to create strategies to create an impact.
* Image from http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/ Artist:arztsamui