The days of having hundreds (or even thousands) of “friends” in giant social networks seems to be numbered, at least if some of the new social networking entrants have anything to say about it…
I’m an active follower of what is happening in the social media/web startup space, and it seems as if the latest trend is to limit the number of connections a person can have to encourage stronger connection and engagement between people. For example, Path is an up-and-coming social network that limits the number of friends someone can have to no more than 50. The idea is that as the size of the group grows, people become less comfortable openly sharing with others. Path is just the beginning of this trend though… This article on Yahoo (via the New York Times) is one of many I’ve come across lately outlining this trend toward “smaller is better.”
If you’ve followed our blog in the past, you know that we’re big fans of limiting the size of market research online communities (MROCs) to improve engagement. People will hesitate to share openly with a few hundred people, but with 50 (or fewer) fellow participants it becomes much less daunting to share and connect. As a member of a small community, you will see friendly faces in every discussion and learn about who they are and what they are all about. It’s through this connection and dialogue between members that real insight emerges. The research team and moderation staff can do the same, leading to a better understanding of the audience and the development of stronger recommendations for the client.
I hate to harp on this point too much, but if you’re planning out a MROC I can’t stress the “smaller is better” advice more strongly… To me, this isn’t a “qual vs. quant” discussion; rather, this is addressing how we as an industry develop the strongest insights and ideas possible for our clients. Hopefully, this message will be validated by the “next Facebook” and future social media sites that spreading this idea as well.