Outside of a Small Circle of Friends

by Ron on April 16, 2009


A while back I wrote a post on my blog called I want to be like Chris Brogan, Oh Yea. My point was that Chris, a social media guru who runs New Marketing Labs has a huge social circle, which is not surprising given the fact he sells social media consulting to companies for a living. But do we all need to be like Chris? The more I think about, the more I see this as an unrealistic goal.

My friend Morriss Partee explained it to me this way: You have your inner circle of friends who care about what you do and promote your work and celebrate your victories with you. Outside of that you have a group of people of are interested in your work, but aren’t going to go to bat for you every time and the remaining people  on the outside of the circle have only marginal interest in what you are doing. Sounds about fair (and is probably true for Brogan too except that the size of the inner circle is larger than most).

But do we really need thousands of followers on Twitter or dozens of friends on Facebook? Sure, it’s good for your ego to have big numbers, but what matters most is the group of people who truly care about you and your work. If you have a handful of those you’re doing alright (online or off).

Photo by ● Łéł†Āķ Mă3ý ● on Flickr

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Morriss Partee April 16, 2009 at 7:31 am

Hi Ron! Great post!

Indeed, being the next Chris Brogan is not a desirable goal. Chris Brogan fulfills that role quite nicely. Instead, being the best Ron Miller is a better goal, one that no one else can pursue. Also, quantity is not the goal either. I much favor the pursuit of quality. While some folks seem to pursue the acquisition of friends and followers, I prefer to engage in dialog with people that I have some connection to. The more conversations we follow, the more our universe appears as it did to Jim Carey in Bruce Almighty, where god grants him the ability to hear everyone, and the cacophony of noise inside his head nearly does him in.

On the other hand, I’ve had people ask me how I can possibly keep track of 700 twitter followers. The answer is: I can’t. Twitter is like a river… you take a sip when you want to, on your own schedule. You can’t possibly read everything, but I really enjoy having an ambient awareness of a lot of wonderful people.

2 ron April 16, 2009 at 8:25 am

Thanks so much Morris. Great comment and in fact, I love the “Twitter is like a river…” image. I plan to use that in a future post, but no worries, I will give you full credit for it. 🙂

Thanks for your support and for contributing to our site (watch for Morriss’ posts soon). We both really appreciate it.

3 Christine Pilch April 16, 2009 at 9:46 am

I wholeheartedly agree with both of you. It is impossible to read, much less engage with all my Twitter followers, much as I would like to. I slip into Twitter throughout the day, read a bit, respond a few times, and then get back to work. I think that most people handle Twitter this way. That’s why it is perfectly acceptable to retweet something important a few times within a 24-hour time period.

I think of twitter partly as my virtual water cooler, partly as a resource. It gives me the interpersonal connection so often lacking in a solopreneur’s world. It makes me feel a little less isolated and provides a means of getting quick answers to stumbling blocks.

4 Mark Sherrick April 16, 2009 at 3:29 pm

A large number of followers is indeed an ego boost, and whether you are truly run by ego or not, it feels good to log into Twitter, or Facebook, or your blog, or anything, and see your subscriber number climbing, your friends list growing, or whatever the tracking method is.

It is unrealistic to compare yourself to someone in a similar position as you in these types of situations, simply because everyone’s situation is different. You may not have as much experience as Chris Brogan…or be the same kind of writer as Jeremiah Owyang, or as big of a dork as Robert Scoble. You may have similar interests, but your follower count makes no difference. You may have that better crew of close friends and followers who will go to bat for you without asking, while having a tenth of the followers as any of those I listed above. I honestly believe that I have a tremendous small group of people I can count on to back me up when I need them to, and having a small follow and follower count, its actually easier to sort through the river and find my hunk of gold, in the form of a comment on my blog entry, or a retweet of something I think is worthy.

You need to find the balance between followers and friends…and for everyone, its a different equation…thats why there is Mr Tweet, and all those follower scams, and Twibes, and everything else. If you have a number of people that you can comment back and forth with, and people you know will jump into action for you, and you’re cool with that number…then you’re gold.

As Morris said above, and I have written recently in my blog….you can’t be a better someone else than that someone else. Your story will not be authentic at that point. You need to tell YOUR story, not someone elses. A good story to ten people will go MUCH farther than a shitty story to a hundred.

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