Robert Scoble is a geek. Â He was an evangelist for Microsoft for three years and is among the top social media strategists. Â As of today, he is being followed by 82,411 people on twitter. Â As much a large groups play a huge part in web 2.0 (or whatever we’re calling it now), Scoble reminds us that to practice what some of you have always known: that intimate, small-group interactions are where the real magic happens. Â It’s leveraging social media to implement these interactions that is key:
In all the hype about celebrities over on Twitter and Facebook weâ€™ve forgotten something: experiences you have with crowds of other people are rarely magical unless itâ€™s a concert and, even then, Iâ€™ve seen musicians give concerts to four of my closest friends and then go out and give concerts to thousands of people. I would rather have the small experience EVERY TIME. Which is one reason I like Peter Himmelmanâ€™s Furious World so much.
Iâ€™ve been around the world. Iâ€™ve met some of the smartest people in the world. Just this weekÂ I shared a Guinness with the deputy prime minister of Ireland.
But as I get around the world I find Iâ€™m not chasing the crowds. Iâ€™m chasing the magical experience.
What are some of the magical experiences in your life? Bringing a kid into the world is one of mine. Two people. And a doctor and nurse. The power of four again.
Getting married? When done best there are only a few participants: two people, a minister, and a witness. Four people.
A great dinner out? Iâ€™ve found that if thereâ€™s four people at the table that you love it always is magical. Five or more? Introduces noise and reduces the magic.
This is something Iâ€™ve discovered thanks to Laurent Haug, founder of theÂ LIFT Conference in Geneva, Switzerland. He invited me to spend time after the conference at his friendâ€™s Swiss Chalet.
It is still the most magical experience Iâ€™ve had with someone Iâ€™ve met online.
Just a small group hanging out over a weekend, skiing, eating food thatâ€™s not good for us, taking photos, hanging out in the hot tub drinking Laurentâ€™s friendâ€™s expensive brandy. You can seeÂ the photo of the hot tub on this post.
It even turned into one of those product launches that really sticks with me, when Laurent (pictured here) showed us something he was working on calledÂ CoComment. I no longer use that service, but laid the groundwork for a variety of others, including Disqus who Iâ€™m headed to see today.
The point is, that magical experiences in life are â€” for me at least â€” those that are small and done with four or so other people.
So, why donâ€™t our social networks try to get us to split up into smaller groups? Facebook and friendfeed do, in their various ways. Yesterday I signed into Facebook for the first time in a while. I tried importing my Tweets and instantly got complaints. Why? Because the usage model there is all about talking with small groups of friends.
While Twitter gets the hype and chases the big crowd experience Iâ€™m left noticing that Facebook might run away with the real monetization prize: because Facebook is better setup for having magical experiences online with small groups of friends.
How magical? For the past few weeks Maryam has been showing me some of the conversations sheâ€™s been having with old school friends from around the world. Sheâ€™s giddy that sheâ€™s finding cousins and old friends she hasnâ€™t seen for decades.
I look at my friendfeed experiences, too. Iâ€™m starting to put people into separate lists. Four at a time. I imagine having dinner with them and having a conversation about something.
This is a technique I learned from Linda Stone. When she invited me over for dinner she sat me next to a famous author and a famous Microsoft researcher to see if magic would happen.
This is something that many PR people and big company employees never get.Â Read Tara Huntâ€™s experience of trying to find book reviewers. Sheâ€™s chasing the magical experience. Her PR company is chasing â€œbloggers with reach.â€
Hint: Tara is right. The magic is with people who care. The magic is in small numbers. The magic is in creating an experience that has nothing to do with a committee. That post is something every PR and big company employee should read and understand at a deep level. She wants to create magic (she calls it Whuffie) and she knows that if she has a small number of people who are fanatical about what sheâ€™s doing that thatâ€™s how itâ€™ll get done.
Anyway, just one of my thoughts as I am working today onÂ Building43 â€” weâ€™re looking to find people who are fanatical about the Internet and create a magical experience. I wonder who I should invite to dinner?
Hereâ€™s another example. Tomorrow at 3 p.m. Iâ€™m getting a tour of the Monterey Bay Aquarium from the guy who doesÂ their friendfeed/Twitter communities. I can get three other people into the tour. The first ones who email me at firstname.lastname@example.org get in.
What kind of magical experiences are you trying to create?