The "Bad" - having so many social followers that conversation becomes impossible
I just read another great article by Clive Thompson in this month's Wired Magazine. "In Praise of Obscurity" points out that socializing doesn't scale. This seems like a "duh" observation in the real world since we all know that its impossible to chat with everyone at a large party (40-50+ people).
But online it's a bit easier to "converse" with lots of people since they all aren't "there" at the same time. That said, once you get more than a few hundred followers social stops being social according to Thompson. "It's no longer a bantering process of thinking and living out loud. It becomes old-fashioned broadcasting." And further, "when the conversation gets big enough, it shuts down. Not only do audiences feel estranged, the participants also start self-censoring. There's no pretense of intimacy with the audience, so there's no conversation to spoil."
The lesson for businesses is that while it may seem cool to have many thousands of followers, it makes it impossible to realize the value of the relationship and conversation with each person. Why use social media if you're just going to blast messages like an email newsletter. Wouldn't you rather use social tools to have relevant and timely conversations with your best customers? And if so, are Facebook and Twitter the right tools? I don't think so. Business conversations seem out of place on Facebook where I go to check in with my friends, and Twitter is really better for short frequent broadcasts than long/deep conversations. There is clearly the need for a better tool for businesses to connect with their customers.