I was in Richmond VA recently attending a McCann Worldgroup function, and a fine person by the name of Patrick Meeley taught me a simple rule for managing a group conversation - the rule of 5. It’s simple - when you have 5 people in a group the conversation is focused and everyone is engaged. As soon as you add a person to that group the conversation fragments and you start to have separate discussions. Over the course of a week in VA, I saw this happen several times over. 5 of us would be at a restaurant - we’d run into a few others and suddenly we’re having 2 conversations instead of 1. It seems to hold true - any informal discussion of more than 5 people inevitably breaks into smaller separate discussions.
Is there a learning here for engagement within social media - sure there is. There’s a natural friction between mass and reach. If engagement equals value - then focus on the engagement, not on the numbers.