Social Networks? Size Doesn’t Always Matter

With so much business, money and ego surging into social media, there’s an inherent race to become the biggest — and fast.

That’s true whether you’re with a social network, a business, or even if you’re a single user. Indeed, there are benefits to popularity. We live in a world where more is presumed better than less, so implicit judgment usually favors size of membership, number of followers, connections and subscribers. Scale can bring influence, power and the ability to monetize. To be sure, many social media networks work better with scale, and some only work with scale.

Being fat has its place, but being fat is not the only way. Skinny is important, too. My friend Jeff Sass and I came to that conclusion a few weeks ago. While most people focus on scale, we participate in a micro-community that delivers transformative value — value that simply can’t be compared to any large social network.

It all started when five dads, including Jeff and me, were brought together last year through Sony’s DigiDad blogger project. After the program ended, we discovered that we really liked each other and our different perspectives on parenting. So we decided to channel our long-distance friendships and social-media prowess into a new podcast called “Cast Of Dads, The Mother Of All Daddy Podcasts.” We’d never even met in person until very recently, because we all live in different cities across North America.

While we created an online talk show that’s building a listener community of thousands, it had the unintended consequence of creating a completely separate and private online community comprised of just us five dads. Our social network goes beyond simply organizing ourselves for a talk show. Its purpose has evolved to become a hub to share important and not-so-important things going on in our lives, typically related to being a dad. We sometimes have several interactions a day, and these culminate in a live call every Sunday, when we record our show. Our public podcast aside, this group has become one of my favorite online social networks. The Cast of Dads offers a little more fun and camaraderie each day, and makes each Sunday especially enjoyable.

The big deal here is that the most important online social networks don’t have to be big. In fact, getting big often has the unintended consequence of becoming less focused, less relevant and less intimate. Big is the final step before “has-been.” Importantly, online social networks don’t even need sophisticated technology — ours resides on Google groups, email and sometimes the phone! The only thing that matters is that your social network have passion, purpose and proponents. These three attributes alone can achieve transformative impact.

Which micro communities are most important in your life?

This post also was my latest column in MediaPost.

(Photo credit: Jess and Colin)

Published by Max Kalehoff

Father, sailor and marketing executive.

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