Please join us in welcoming our special guest blogger, Jennifer Sipala, Director of Marketing at Unitrends.

I recently read an article in Techcrunch titled “The Social Network Paradox” by Nina Khosla. It refers to a paradox found in social networks: “as the size of the social network increases our ability to be social decreases.” Khosla pointed out that Facebook is the most obvious example of a social network losing relevance. “When our number of connections rise above 150 everything becomes simply comments, as real conversations tax our already limited ability to interface with the network,” she stated.

It made perfect sense — as the size of the network increases, our ability to be social decreases. Darn you Dunbar’s number!

Well, as I sit here in seat 13B on my way to Austin, I must say I feel that all is not lost (though, yes, that is the lav door right across the very small aisle from my seat).

Why? Well, I’m on my way to Spiceworks’ annual conference, SpiceWorld. As Khosla commented, social networks are becoming too dense. It requires specialized communities of interest to be truly social.

Spiceworks is a free set of tools that helps over 1 million IT professionals manage their network, helpdesk, and “everything IT in small and medium businesses.” They also have an entire social community. I joined the conversation a few years ago and have been thrilled to get to know many of its users (and fanatics!).

Unlike the broader social scene, the Spiceworks’ online community works to answers questions for each other and share what they think on a variety of IT topics. Vendors are of course allowed to participate, but in almost every case, they play second fiddle to the voice of the people.

Today, it’s all about the relationship. All about communication. All about community-ing.

For many marketers this is a challenge.

For me? [Well, here is where I include my shameless plug]. For me, it’s pretty easy. First and foremost, our product rocks. However, Unitrends doesn’t have fancy airport signage or radio ads — we just have our people. We don’t have gobs of money to spend on banner ads and fancy show booths, we have Maria Ellison and Mark Campbell and Mark Jordan. We have amazing pre- and post-sale customer support… and heck, amazing customers willing to sing our praises both online and offline.

A vendor serving the community before they can ask for the sale? Right on sister. Doing it here since 1989.