Just today I come across a new (to me) resource via a private LinkedIn Groups conversation, linking away to the TechnoratiMedia 2013 Digital Influence Report. It contains much material that reinforces what we already know about social media marketing and social selling. But while it doesn’t hold many epiphanies, one of the data points it does convey is quite interesting, for a variety of reasons. In their research, Technorati show that:
When it comes to community size, 54 percent of consumers agree that the smaller the community, the greater the influence.
This is intriguing for several reasons, not least of which is that it seems to fly in the face of Metcalfe’s Law, which is otherwise known as the network effect. The utility (value) of a network is understood to be exponentially greater the more members it has. But, if you factor in the phenomenon of Dunbar’s number, which states that we humans can only maintain so many social relationships, it becomes clear that we’re better at processing deeper relationships within smaller groups than we are within larger groups. To state this another way, members of smallish bodies of individuals tend to form closer relations amongst themselves — which personal experience only serves to reinforce. The members of that group will have more sway over one another than members of a significantly larger group.
We see this in our social marketing work as well: Once a contingents surpasses a certain size, diminishing returns are realized and each subsequent member gets less out of the group’s interactions. It’s for this reason that we generally work with groups of 25 influential bloggers or less, as they’re more likely to strike up the small-group dynamic that will bring about the level of product engagement that our clientele seek. Engagement begets endorsement, and endorsement is a proxy for recommendation. So, the smaller the collection of influencers, the more closely that collection will interact, and generally, the more and better content it will produce – content that confers strong recommendation on the product or brand.