When it comes to social networks and your social media strategy, how much does size really matter?
Well, it depends.
Take just one example, the eMarketing Association Network on LinkedIn.
As of mid-March 2013, the eMarketing Association group on LinkedIn had more than half a million members and was growing by another 2-3,000 new members every week!
By any measure one would have to say that it is a very large network and would probably be considered as being an example of a very successful online community.
But how successful is it?
There are about 1,000-2,000 new discussion topics posted on the site each week! (If you are not familiar with LinkedIn, group members receive an email message either every day or once a week highlighting new discussion topics that have been posted to the site.)
Let's take a closer look.
Just in a recent week, there were exactly 1,137 new discussion topics posted that generated 293 comments or responses.
Of these discussions, one of them received 30 out of the 293 total comments. That leaves just 263 comments for the remaining 1,136 discussion topics.
If we allocate just 1 comment to 1 discussion, that leaves 873 posted topics that did not generate a single comment (and this is just for 1 week!).
That means that even in a group with more than 500,000 members, there were 873 discussions at least that were posted, but that were not interesting enough to garner a single piece of feedback. And this is in a group dedicated to EMarketing.
Sure, size matters but not at the expense of quality.
If your social community is too small, you will end up with the opposite of what is described above; no discussions and little value for the members in the group.
A lack of discussion or having too narrow of a focus is more likely to cause your social community to fail than getting too large.
However, ask me to choose between a small group with actionable content versus a large group with an uncontrolled stream of spam and self promoting posts; I will pick the smaller network every time.
Bigger is not always better, even with social networks and communities.
The next time you feel that your social communities might be too small, focus on the quality of the participants and the content. You will generate conversations that matter and that help your community members.
That is the real measure of success.