Lately the subject of Personal Networks has been surfacing often in my conversations with people and many blogs have been talking about it. Also a lot of talk about reach vs. engagement and many respectful social media enthusiast have boo booed profiles that friend and follow many.
It is absolutely true that profiles that have 1000 followers/ friends need not necessarily be more influential than profiles that have 100 followers/ friends. But in the same breath it doesn't mean that all profiles that have large followers/friends base are less effective or influential either. The higher influence score or metric when you compare both kinds of profiles could go either way. Yes it is very much based on engagement, conversations and amplification and so far I haven't seen any evidence that says that profiles that have more friends/followers are at a disadvantage of being big influencers. I am reasonably sure that if we all had our way we would all choose both higher influence and larger networks. The argument that needs to be made is that size of network is just one small metric of measuring influence and what I am against the blanket rubbishing of the concept of large networks.
In my view we have two options 1) we can create our profiles with the intent to interact with a fixed volume of people or 2) keep an open mind and expand our networks and make the best use of filters, lists, groups and privacy options.
Here are 3 reasons I would not CAP or limit my social networks growth
- Filters, groups, list and privacy options make great tools for managing networks
There has been a lot of progress on building features that help manage networks on the popular social networking sites. It's getting easier to customize feeds, categorize people and filter the content that you wish to read. If you are disciplined enough you can do the categorization while adding a friend/follower to your network based on the person's background and content. If not you can always do this on the go with your network when you feel the need to categorize people, change content and sharing options. Judging by what I have read this is the number one development area that most popular networks will keep focusing on. Social Networking sites understand that there is a human limitation to number of interactions and how much we can consume and in the same breath there are privacy concerns as well. I do believe there will be more and more tools available to help manage our networks better both within and outside the social networks.
- It's exactly opposite to the concept of social networking
It's like going to party and wanting to only interact with the people you know or you think you need to know. If someone you don't know would come up to you in party and said 'hi' would you say sorry I have caped my friends list and I think I know all the smart people I wanted to know? Not only is it rude but you may lost the opportunity to meet someone who may turn out to be a great future friend or potential business associate. In my view the whole idea of social networking online is not to just to add your offline network but it also brings in the promise of meeting new people with different perspectives so that we can expand our knowledge and influence in every sense of it.
- It's hard work but it's rewarding
Yes the entire process of setting up lists, groups etc is hard work and time consuming but it absolutely worth it. There are numerous instances of content that has inspired me or helped me do things better in my professional and personal life and on many occasions it has been shared by people that I don't really know. I have forged friendships and professional alliances with people I would possibly never meet in my offline world.
In conclusion i just want to say - ignore the 'Nay Sayers' and be open to network, don't run after volume but don't shun it either and off course don't forget to focus on the basics that is great content, conversations, engagements that build up influence.
Quick Alert: The above post is intended for adult networkers and not for children and teens. You can read more in this post 'Social Media rated PG'