I wrote the below op-ed last year but it's still relevant and (hopefully) interesting some 18 months later. We trust everyone is enjoying a relaxing and rejuvenating weekend ☺️
The Vampr Bacon Number and the Opportunity of the Niche Social Network
Sounds like the title of a new Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings adventure, doesn’t it? Although not quite as exciting, something which has intrigued me for the last several months is the power and opportunity of an active niche social network.
Beyond the obvious — that every member of our community shares a passion for music, and Vampr is the venue to meet and discuss — I wanted to explore the power of Vampr as 1) an educational tool (the music industry is complicated and hard to navigate) and 2) a platform where one had the opportunity to reach a specific person or specific group of people.
This has presented a couple of challenges. We created — by design — a closed social network. That is ‘one-to-one’. In an open social network such as Facebook we don’t necessarily or consciously consider that time spent on the platform is almost always educational. We are constantly absorbing information through a feed (ie. Mary bought a new dog yesterday, she also liked a New York Times article).
In a niche social network the opportunity to learn about how an industry or group of people work is incredibly powerful. In our case, the bedroom musician who didn’t go to a music college doesn’t necessarily know that in order to put on the most basic of club shows you will need to find persons to man the merch desk, control the lighting rig, mix front of house audio, sort out the monitor mix, pay you at the end of the show, etc.
However if I saw that several of my contacts in Vampr were starting to build out these connections, the sub-conscious begins to absorb those patterns, the inquisitive mind digs a little deeper, and one’s understanding of both the industry and potential of the platform grows.
So a fundamental shift in how Vampr functions would be necessary to achieve our ambition of increasing usefulness and educational value to the community. You will start to see these changes roll out soon.
This extensive feature set and re-vamp of Vampr (pun intended) should also go a long way to addressing the second ambition I mentioned above: Vampr as a service or platform where one had the opportunity to reach a specific person or specific group of people.
When we started brainstorming and researching these ideas, it became immediately clear that features such as a feed wouldn’t be very useful if you couldn’t get lost in a Vampr-style rabbit-hole, much like a late night Wikipedia session, jumping from topic to topic (or in our case, person to person).
However, if we all have this love for playing and listening to music in common, surely we must be a little more connected than we realise?
And thus began our look into the Vampr bacon number. That is, how many steps away is one user from another user on average ie., how many people will I have to hop between in order to get an introduction to X, based on who is connected to who on Vampr alone.
As described on Wikipedia: Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon is a parlor game based on the “six degrees of separation” concept, which posits that any two people on Earth are six or fewer acquaintance links apart. Movie buffs challenge each other to find the shortest path between an arbitrary actor and prolific actor Kevin Bacon. It rests on the assumption that anyone involved in the Hollywood film industry can be linked through their film roles to Bacon within six steps.
Thanks to our monster growth over the last six months we had a sample size more than adequate to begin looking into this. Facebook haven’t publicly spoken about their bacon number since 2011, however at the time it was 4.74. In 2009 Twitter’s bacon number was around 5.
In order for us to validate the unique opportunities and power we believed inherent in the niche social network, and Vampr specifically, our number had to be significantly smaller. Without naming anyone specifically, we are aware of many accomplished musicians, songwriters, producers and managers on the platform.
We wanted to see concrete evidence that someone with enough hunger and thirst for success could use Vampr to reach exactly who they wanted to reach. There will still of course come that moment where you might need to ask someone to vouch for you or make an introduction but if our bacon number was small enough then we could almost guarantee that the power was back in the user’s hands and the hustle was their responsibility.
Our job is to get out of the way and make things easier.
This is tighter than the Hollywood number of 2.9. Apparently what happens in Hollywood, also goes down in home studios at a global scale!
Right now, Vampr still has a long way to go. The product needs to mature, as does the userbase. We need to introduce features and change the functionality of the app so you can best take advantage of the opportunity as shown above. But the findings of our research, the Vampr bacon number, was validating, and it should be hopeful and exciting for our userbase too.
Until next time…
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