How “Real” Is Your Network?

by Jay Deragon on 04/29/2011

In the ever evolving and exploding world of social media people eventually come to a place where they understand their “real” vs “fake” network. Not knowing the difference means not knowing who and what to pay attention to in the growing space of distraction.

How Do You Define A Real Network?

A real network contains relations that represent true “connectivity”. True connectivity is represented by an exchange of value. You create value that your real network appreciates and your real networks creates an exchange that you appreciate. Appreciation comes in different forms. Many people in my network have never had a direct conversations with me but their content and mine are in context with intellectual and emotional matters that pull us to each other and the connection is strong. Strong enough that I know and they know we could ask each other for and about anything and we’re sure of a response with value.

Our real network also contains friends, family, business associates in which we’ve had physical contact with. The number is not the relevancy to defining “real” rather everyone of us know what real means when we experience it. Real is a bonding that is difficult to define or measure. You just know it when it happens.

How Do You Define A “Fake” Network?

Fake networks of “connections, observers, collectors and users” are those in which either there was never and opportunity to create a “real” experience or the experience was never real to begin with. Subsequently there is no basis to really define these connections as real. The differentiation between “real” and “fake” is what is giving the space of social media a bad impression. Yet businesses continue to think that mass marketing with no relationship to consumers is the preferred way of marketing. Mass marketing is also a form of “fake” market relations at a tremendous expense.

What Is Your “Real” Network

Relational Network PyramidEach of use determines who and what defines a “real” network. Personally having tens of thousands of connections and over eight thousands followers on “Twitter” my data shows that in reality my “real network” represents roughly 2% of my total “connections. My definition of my “real network” is those people whom either I have or they have a strong affinity with based on content and context” . My content creates affinity to like minded individuals who “connect” with my own thinking and subsequently decide to engage in “real” conversations with me and with my audience. Subsequently the engagement creates more conversation which adds value to perspectives, content and knowledge sought. These people are real and take the time to engage in relevant and relative dialog that creates value for me and them.

The other group of thousands of individuals are connections, observers, collectors and users who really never attempt to engage. A connection is simply having direct access to someone given the connection social networks offer. Observers are those people that read your content but never connect nor engage. Collectors are those individuals whom “collect” connections and followers with no aim or intent. Users are those people who have observed your conversations and use, or reuse it, for their own purposes.

Without engagement there is no context from which we can formulate a “real” relationship. Deciding to engage is always the first step in forming any relationship. What happens after that decision is the foundation of determining possibilities of “real” relations that can create and exchange value that enhances mutual opportunities.

Social media is powerful but only as powerful as the depth one can form with a “real network” of relations. Content has never been more relational until social technology enabled content to create context to the market of conversations which represent powerful relations. The small percentage of “real” relations is where real value is created. What does your “real network” look like?



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