I’ve got a dirty secret. I’m not sure that social networking is The Next Big Thing.
This isn’t something that I want to say too loudly. A large component of my job entails going on social networking sites and blogging platforms to update information and exchange messages with people. Almost impossible not to have some version of a social networking strategy today.
I remember geocities, tripod, and angelfire. When’s the last time you visited one of those sites? (Millennials: Do you even know what they are?)
Somebody new started following me on Twitter yesterday. I took a few moments today to check out the guy to see whether I wanted to follow him. As I write this, he’s following 47,947 people. He has 48,302 followers. Made it easy to decide. I’m not following him. Nothing important will come from him. And he doesn’t really care what his nearly 48,000 people are saying to him. He’s in a room full of people and nobody’s listening.
LinkedIn had to limit connections to 30,000 users earlier this year. Which, obviously, cramped the style of the people who really actually network with 30,001 people.
Count me as a skeptic of the more is better idea. I think meaningful online conversations and relationships have a limit. At some point, information overload is simply human nature.
50,000 followers is nothing if they aren’t listening. And if they aren’t listening, they’re able to walk away from the network – and your messages.
I’m approaching a period at work where we’ll be able to tear apart and remake what we’re doing online with our social network programs. And as I’m scratching out my thoughts before the planning sessions, I’m thinking about being effective – about the difference between being busy and being productive. I want the people who friend and follow us to think about us.
There’s a lot of clutter out there. Until we get past the more-is-better phase and look-how-important-I-am mentality, social networking will remain a fad rather than part of the answer.
Thanks to M. Keefe on Flickr for the photo.