2 min read

A new social network idea: Tiny New Circles

A new kind of social network designed to make new friends. 'Cause 'social networks' never really nailed the social part.
A new social network idea: Tiny New Circles
Photo by Marco Savastano / Unsplash. This is about the right number of people for a good circle.

The social networks we have are all big, globe-spanning, mass-publishing behemoths. And they have their place. Maybe. But with the rise of the influencer and content creator as jobs, I don't think social networks do as much to foster social connection as they used to.

Everyone is a brand now. Every post is about maximizing engagement.

Add to that a loneliness epidemic, a rise in solo households and the many issues with public meetup/dating/friendship apps, and I think we're all ready for something new.

I'm calling my idea for a new thing Tiny New Circles for the point of this post.

What Is It?

Your 'tiny new circle' is a social network, sort of. Except that it's tiny, as the name suggests. And none of your friends are in it. Nor are any famous people. And it costs you money instead of making you money.

Excited yet?

Okay, not a great sell. But hear me out.

What forms friendships? Repeated non-intentional interactions. You become friends with people from school or work or a sports team because you both consistently show up for other reasons. Unlike dating, friendships don't form well with direct intent because, uh, I dunno. I'll leave that to the social scientists to explain.

So. You sign up to Tiny New Circles and the first thing you do is wait. When there are enough signups (let's say 50) then you all get tossed into a 'circle' at the same time. Think of the digital part of your circle like a combo of a private Facebook group and a Whatsapp group chat.

Why not use those apps then? I'm not done.

You're only allowed to be in one circle at a time. All the people in the circle are in the same city / area. They're loosed grouped by age / intent / interests, but only loosely. Then you let the social'ing begin.

This won't work because...

If you set up these micro-networks and let them run themselves, you'll most likely get crickets. Some introductory posts, a few questions from the extroverted / brave and then it's just a group of strangers who don't know what to say.

So this is where you need a faciliator. This is a part-time gig-economy style position where they get paid to facilitate the conversation, prompt topics, arrange in-person meetups, and boot anyone who violates the rules. Like a mod, but paid.

Imagine a facilitator seeing on their dashboard that two people in the circle haven't contributed much, but both put a similar interest in their profile. The facilitator can set up a 1-1.

Speaking of rules, you also need some sort of participation requirements. A rolling minimum average of messages / posts / comments / attendance at meetups. If you don't, you get bumped out. No lurkers here.

I also think you need to charge so that everyone there is ready to put some effort in. Low-intent users would ruin everyone else's experience.

I have no idea if this would work, or what the issues would be. Circles may need to have time limits so they don't go stale. Maybe after every 6 months all circles are destroyed, shuffled, and re-formed.

Maybe there are 50 people in a circle, maybe there are 100, maybe there are 15. I dunno what the right number is.

What I do know is that traditional social networks give you access to everyone. And when you have access to everyone, you're close with no one.