The Safety of the Herd?

I love Gary Larson’s humor from The Far Side fame:

Lemmings - Gary Larson

Companies are supposedly risk averse and we’re all conditioned that there’s somehow safety in numbers:

  • How many clients do you have?
  • How long have you been in business?
  • Please supply us with references.
  • Provide us with sample case studies that match our industry, company size, product, service, etc.
  • We read this article from [insert big company] that provides an opposing perspective, please explain.

Let’s look at examples of the herd, and who we’ve been following for years:

No thanks, I’ll not be following the herd any time soon.


  1. 1

    Isn’t social media just a more efficient herd? I would agree that following the herd is not, by itself, a great thing to do, but there’s a lot to be said about herds and reputation. The herd tells us that Google’s a pretty good search engine, and I’ll admit I followed that one. Similarly, the herd points out products it’s happy with (Apple) and unhappy with (GM, Ford).

    The question is, are we unhappy about following the herd, or are we suddenly left feeling cheated when a herd abandons what it was following? Many of the examples above where followed en mass by the herd, but are now being abandoned en mass by that same herd.

    • 2

      Hi Steven,

      Actually, I don’t think social media is an efficient herd – we’re all spread out in our independent (though linked) communities – blogs, twitter, social bookmarking, friendfeed, Ning networks, Linked In, Plaxo…. I think folks are actually begining to form much smaller ‘micro’ communities where they find people with similar tastes, beliefs, education, talents, hobbies and backgrounds.

      Google actually slices results based on relevancy, so different terms – “cheap” versus “low cost” can provide totally different results for someone with the same search intent… based on ‘like’ searches by other people and backlinks from other sources. Google’s probably more of a king of the non-herd results in my book.

      I agree with your herd theory. I just hope that folks don’t blindly follow the herd anymore… I’m not sold that the results are more often positive than negative. I love people who question the norm and push the envelope.

What do you think?

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