Make Marketing History

The views of a marketing deviant.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Network Effects Or Circle Jerks?

I read a survey that suggested that six out of ten people in Britain speak to five or fewer friends each week and that one in twenty five spoke to no-one at all.

Now I don't suppose that included online contact but it did make me pause and wonder if much vaunted network effects were limited to a certain segment of society. MySpace may have sold for a huge price recently, but I have noticed that many of my friends in their 30s and younger have never even heard of it.


Blogger ann michael said...

An interesting point, John. Like finds like - at least for a while. Then there are a few of us that kind of evolve into hubs and bridge those isolated communities. I didn't know who you were until a few weeks ago - now I read your blog whenever there's something new and sometimes I send your URL to others. For every one like me that writes and tells you that I'm out here - how many don't? I just started a blog a couple of months ago and it's only been on typepad for 12 days - yet every day I watch the page views go up - that must mean there is some kind of network effect going on - right?!? As you implied, it might also be that the Brits are moving from face-to-face and phone contact to other ways of communicating.

10:45 AM, May 08, 2006  
Blogger john dodds said...

Thanks Ann - both for reading and for evangelising. I wasn't specifically wondering out loud whether I was being read - I am ignorant of how to judge that, even though I see my bloglines' subscribers rising which is both amazing and gratifying.

I was more wondering out loud whether marketers had to be very careful of the value they attach to network effects and how they might determine whether they are accessing valid or relevant networks? The Brits may be socially repressed but I also get the feeling that it is an international phenomenon.

1:53 PM, May 08, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How have these friends missed hearing about MySpace? It is mentioned in newspapers, on the radio, on TV, and if you go near the net you can't miss it. What is it that they are not doing?

2:58 PM, May 08, 2006  
Blogger john dodds said...

It's bemusing I know - but people live in bubbles - they don't read newspapers, they use TV for entertainment solely and they focus on their main interests such as family and work.

I was making the point that we shouldn't assume everyone thinks like we do. I signed up for MySpace a long time ago but I actually never use it because I had already established my own social networks in real life and online. As one comedian said recently, you dont have 10,476 friends, you're just stamp collecting!

3:05 AM, May 09, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How have my friends missed hearing about MySpace? Very easily. Their activity on internet is governed by their needs and interests. Since most of my friends and family members have very little experience with weblogs (if any), most of their experience exists of weblogs filled with trivia.
They won't go out of their way to look for more interesting variations on something they felt was a waste of their time in the first place and they’ll skip articles in the paper about the phenomenon for articles they find more interesting.

To get back to the original post: there are still different types of networks, which work in different ways for different people.

I'm uncertain, John, what you mean. A network may be a group of friends and family you depend on, on a personal level. Or a network may be a group of people you 'use' (in a friendly and mutually beneficial sort of way) in relationship to your work.
It can be both as well of course, but I think that is indeed limited to a small segment of society and needs a certain personality.

In a roundabout way of exemplifying this: my grandmother is still worried about my cousin because he spends a lot of time on the internet. She is afraid he won’t get enough social interaction. I don’t worry because I know 1) he has a large group of friends (as well) and 2) he has a wonderful job (partly because of this). It is who he is: he has a large group of people around him who are very loyal to him and who he has contact with very regularly.
I, on the other hand, am a loner at heart and the people I choose as friends usually are as well. Sometimes weeks go by where I don’t speak to any of them. People in my business network however, I talk to more often, sometimes several times a week, even when I’m not working with them. Friends though, they are not.

4:24 PM, May 09, 2006  
Blogger john dodds said...

I was really just thinking allowed about the seeming disconnect between the statistics of social isolation and the hype around web 2.0 social networks. It may be a very large niche, but I think it's clear that many segments of society aren't involved. That's all.

3:16 PM, May 10, 2006  
Blogger john dodds said...

Aloud of course!

3:16 PM, May 10, 2006  

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