Tag Archives: Social Networks


Does anyone remember nuance?

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You know – the subtle differences that are out there in the non-virtual world.  Maybe it’s why some folks see Azure, Cyan, or Turquoise while others just see Blue.  Nuance is why some people who can read the words really can’t understand the meaning of what they’ve read.  It’s for sure why some managers have issues with their staff and peers – they can’t hear the nuances in tone that are so critical in interpersonal communications.

I worry about nuance from time to time.  Most of the communication we all seem to have these days is via the written word – email, social posts, and texts.  None of those things have nuance.  I think that’s in part where emoticons came from.  They can help add nuance to social posts (and are totally inappropriate for business communications, kids).  I also think that we all have been on these lengthy email chains from time to time because someone is missing the nuance in one of the notes.  Ever wonder why a brief phone call or in person meeting resolves the back and forth issues?  Nuance.

It’s not just written stuff that lacks nuance.  A lot of the evolving social scoring or influence measurement totally misses the nuance of influence.  Two of the most influential people in my life can barely turn on a computer and are invisible on the social web.  They have neither Facebook nor Twitter nor other social accounts.  The people who are influencers in my life that are online don’t have tons of followers or friends.  I checked one of my friend’s Klout score and it’s in the teens but people online and offline come to him for advice and guidance all the time.  Quantity certainly misses nuance and even attempts to measure the quality of his user base fall short.

What matters isn’t how many Twitter followers and Facebook fans you have or your business has.  What matters is how you and your business turn those embryonic links into real relationships – ones that involve nuance in the interpersonal communications.  That leads to buzz but it also leads to more satisfying bonds with your friends, your staff, your clients, and your customers.

You see the nuances?

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I Need To Call Dunbar – What’s His Number?

How many people do have in your Rolodex? Actually, do you even have a Rolodex or is the contact list on your phone your go-to list? How many friends on Facebook? How many LinkedIn connections? How many Twitter followers? How many folks do you know from the golf club or the gym or the playground where you take your kids who don’t fall into any of the above categories?

English: present model of Rolodex card file, c...

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For me, the answer is a lot, as in thousands, and I don’t even consider myself to be as socially connected as many folks I know. I also do have a Rolodex – actually four of them – that’s filled with business cards of people who, for the most part are not in the other databases.  Obviously, I am not trying to maintain on-going social relationships with each and every one of them.  That’s where my buddy Dunbar comes in.

Dunbar’s number is an estimation of the number of people with whom one can maintain a stable social relationship.  This theorem was developed way back in the digital dark age of 1992, before interacting with hundreds of your high school friends, and chatting to another hundred college buddies was something you did every five or ten years, not daily.  Dunbar set the number around 150.  Other studies have set comparable numbers at 231 and 290, a fraction of what any college kid has as Facebook friends alone.

Since this is a business blog, I’ll throw out the obvious question.  If we’re trying to engage our customers in conversation as we would friends, are we limited to the Dunbar number with respect to having those sorts of relationships?  Are we kidding ourselves if we believe that an individual will use one of their 150 or even 300 relationship slots for a business entity instead of a cousin?  Or maybe there needs to be another study on how businesses fit into the social ecosystem.

I think Dunbar was right.  When I think about it, the folks to whom I’m truly connected is a small fraction of those connections I have.  I know a network like Path is trying to create that subset by limiting your connections to 150.  What’s your take on that?  Is there an opportunity for a business to create a 150 person VIP network?

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Filed under digital media, Thinking Aloud

The Popularity Contest

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...

I saw an article last week in Ad Age about Influencers.  In case you missed it, I’ve linked to it.  The gist of the piece is that having a lot of followers (it cites Bieber as an example) isn’t the same as having a lot of influence: being popular isn’t the same as being able to influence behavior.  The piece delves into Twitter quite a bit but it’s a good lesson for the worlds – virtual and real – beyond. Continue reading


Filed under digital media, Helpful Hints

Facts and Findings

Good example in the last 24 hours of why we always need to question statistics.  Since these concern Twitter, I’ll keep this brief although not 140 characters.  Multiple sources got themselves in a frenzy yesterday buy publishing, as did one source, the following:

Traffic to Twitter continues to decline as the microblogging site seems to have passed its peak in popularity, according to data aggregated by eMarketer. Nielsen has traffic to Twitter.com down by a dramatic 27.8% between September and October 2009, falling to 18.9 million unique visitors. comScore claims unique visitors to the site are down by 8.1% in October. Compete reports a 2.1% decline during the month.

Wow.  Twitter has jumped the shark.  Short the stock.  Number don’t lie, right?  Well, if you read the same source this morning, wrong:

Disclaimer to those Twitter stats we published yesterday: the figures just include unique visitors to the Twitter web site and do not include third-party application or mobile phone usage, according to Nielsen. That’s not to say that apps that feed into the Twitter community such as TweetDeck, TwitPic, Tumblr, etc. aren’t also losing followers, however. Nielsen studied audience retention on a number of those apps last April and found that about 60% of users who try these services end up abandoning them after one month – about the same abandonment ratio as on Twitter.com.

Well, we all know that there is a large abandon rate for many new apps and services as users try them until them settle on the one with which they’re most comfortable and which accomplishes whatever task to their satisfaction.  I’ve been through a bunch of Twitter interfaces just as I’ve tried and abandoned several niche social networks, different browser add-ins, and even makes of PC over the years.  One quick look at the tweets I get from the folks I follow shows a wide diversity of clients, very few of which are the Twitter interface itself.

The lesson?  Don’t take research at face value.  Ask questions, especially the ones not asked in the research itself.  Those are my thoughts.  What are yours?

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Filed under digital media, Helpful Hints, Reality checks

Another Twitter Security Issue

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...

Twitter is having issues again. Unfortunately, the problem this time isn’t as obvious as the massive fails that have kept them off-line recently. This time, it’s something way more problematic for you and me and provides another great example of how companies that don’t get social media can hurt themselves. Even companies right at the social media epicenter! Continue reading

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Filed under Consulting, digital media, Reality checks