Bruce McArthur Facebook, Path.com, Social Networks

Whose social network will you join?

Any endeavor running counter to human nature is  doomed to failure. Take communism, for instance. Comrade, why won’t you share your bushel of wheat/mule/Lexus for which you worked so hard, with your lazy neighbor? Likewise, any enterprise that appeals to human nature is virtually guaranteed success. Such is the case of PATH, (www.path.com) a new Social Media network founded by a former Facebook employee who knows Karl Marx was an imbecile. (A very lazy imbecile, by the way, who rarely worked, but married a wealthy woman.)

Smart business people know Facebook is a terrific marketing tool. But for personal – really personal use – it may be  too public and egalitarian. When we throw a dinner party, we invite maybe 3 or 4 or 6 close friends, not our 1,437 Facebook friends, right? People have a natural tendency to form cliques, groups, clubs and alliances with those of a common interest or like mind. When those clubs get too big or unwieldy (think Roman Catholic Church), splinter groups will form. Once your secret fishing spot is discovered and crammed with boats – it’s worthless.

Not that Facebook doesn’t get it – they’ve got groups and privacy settings, but still, with hundreds of millions of worldwide users, it has zero snob appeal. Dave Morin founded PATH as a social network that maxes out at a more realistic 50 friends. Other niche networks, like Shizzlr, set a limit at 20 people. The names are a kick — GroupMe, Frenzy, Rally Up, Huddl and Bubbla, to name a few. Personally, we think all these names are too cute and coy.

If VMG decides to start a niche social network, we’ll won’t hide behind nice. We’ll call it KeepOut, or maybe AccessDenied.

Regardless, it’s good news for marketers. With 20 or fewer members, we’re talking niche. Looking for sailors who dig Chinese Junks with purple lapstrake hulls? We’ve got your social network.