You know, we didn’t always add strangers on Twitter or Facebook. After all, that isn’t the way most people communicate.
There’s always a little bit of apprehension when you join a new thing, but when we saw that this was the way powerful, alpha users started behaving (Scoble, etc), we started copying them. This is natural since we were trying to emulate their success. This has, in turn, shaped the way Twitter is working now.
It’s amazing to watch the innovations of the most influential users become commonplace on the rest of the web.
Another way this works is that those that build the platforms are able to leverage them in a massive way to multiply and reinforce their own future success. Twitter puts its friends onto the Suggested User List— WordPress put all of their friends blogs on the default blogroll. This is natural nepotistic behaviour that we, as humans, all take part in. But being able to leverage the platform creates incredible success for all people the creators associate with.
If you succeed early, that will lead to further success with less effort, especially if your success involves a platform. If you fail early, you will have to overcome this to eventually get to a good place.
Visible behaviour gets seen and spreads naturally; invisible behaviour does not.
I think the result of this is that one of the most profitable things you can do for any social network is to get the sluts (the promiscuous connectors) to join. Think of dating websites; if they can get them to join, people will get what they are after. This will make the dating site more popular, which will drive people to use it even more.
If everyone is a wallflower, the opposite will happen. Right?