Nothing Draws a Crowd Like a Crowd

We were visiting friends at their beach house in Delaware last weekend and on Saturday night we went to the games and amusement area at Rehoboth Beach.  While watching our son and our friends’ children playing various games, I saw the “nothing draws a crowd like a crowd” phenomenon in action.

If a game was crowded, more people stopped to see what was happening. They sometimes lined up three deep to get a seat at the game.  If a game was empty or only had one or two players, people barely gave it a look, even if it was basically the same game with the same odds and the same prizes as the game with a crowd.  Why did people flock to the already crowded game rather than go to the booth with few players?  I guess subconsciously we think the crowded booth must be better or why would all those people be waiting.  Or maybe we are social animals after all and like to be with a “pack” instead of being a lone wolf.

If you’ve been at a tradeshow, you’ve probably seen the same thing.  Companies that can bring people into their booths seem to attract even more people and interest.  At one tradeshow, we had an artist painting pictures of local landmarks.  People stopped to see what he was doing, which made other people stop and take notice.  We even found some people visited the booth a few times to see what progress was made or what landmark the artist was painting at the moment.  We collected business cards and at the end of the conference we had a drawing for the pictures created during the show.

This ability to draw a crowd works well in a physical space, but how does it apply to the digital world?  The “like” and the “following” buttons are really variations on “crowd”.  If we see tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of “likes” or “following” for a person, company or product, we assume it must be something worth checking out.  I’m not sure about you, but I’m more likely to read posts by those with tens of thousands of followers than those who have a few dozen followers.

And If I read a few posts, I might like or follow, which notifies my friends or connections that I like or am following.  So this creates a multiplier effect of the like or following because some of my friends or connections will check out what I like or am following, and some of them will like or follow, exposing the message to their network.  So instead of stopping to “like” something in the physical world which can draw in people one by one, in the digital world a like can draw in dozens or hundreds, depending on the size of your network.

If you are a LinkedIn user, you have no doubt noticed the “Your LinkedIn Network” section on your home page.  It shows how many connections you have, how many people that links you to in the LinkedIn population and how many new people are in your network in the past few days.  The numbers are pretty amazing.  I have 779 connections, which links me to over 11 million LinkedIn users.  In the past three days there are an additional 50,000 people in my network.  So let’s says 10 people like a post I put on LinkedIn.  This may be read by a few hundred people, 10 of whom like the post, which is read by a few hundred of their connections, as so on.  In a few days this can expose my post to thousands beyond my immediate connections.

Drawing a crowd has taken on a new meaning in the digital world, but the goal is the same.  People are going to gravitate to something that seems popular.  By generating the content people like and want to follow in the digital space, you can leverage the power of a network to build your own crowd, which will draw an even bigger crowd.


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