A formula probably exists for every form of critical mass:
- How many people need to arrive at a house party before people end up having a mini-party in the kitchen. (A good dozen?)
- How many cats does a woman need before becoming a 'crazy cat lady'. (More than 5? or 3?)
- How many of any one item can you have before it is a collection. (A friend of mine says, very definitively: "Four.")
I became a member of Bzzagent dot com (you know something? I have no desire to link to them) awhile ago, and at first flush it is a great concept: Use human beings' innate desire to know about something first and tell other people about it for marketing purposes...the company makes money, and their work force is all willing volunteers. Oh, they give rewards based on a point system -- and it is quite generous, if you are offered bzzagent campaigns.
The problem is, I think they've reached critical mass. A lot of recent publicity has them signing up new Bzzagents like crazy, but it hasn't brought in the same proportion of new clients. If you read their company blog, all is transparent and wow-aren't-we-wonderful, but if you read the comments from the actual agents, you'll see a lot of people who are dissatisfied.
No, not just people -- volunteers who are the backbone of their concept, the product that they sell to clients, and the audience for all of their fabulous self-congratulatory promotions.
The formula is now reversed...
How many is too many?
How soon before the volunteers give up waiting to be used?
How much bad publicity will they end up getting? (probably not enough to make any difference)