Ever hear of Hofmann hot dogs? They’re from Syracuse (where I was born and raised) and they are possibly the best ever made.

The first time I took my husband to Syracuse, he asked me what the city was known for, in terms of food. Hoffmann hot dogs, of course!

So whenever we go there, we HAVE to bring home hot dogs.

Well, the other day, my mom sent me a link: Hofmann’s is going national. Soon you’ll be able to buy their hot dogs anywhere. She thought I’d be excited. Instead I thought, “There goes Hofmann.”

I get it. Businesses have to scale in order to continue to grow and make a profit and show their investors a return-on-investment.

But from a consumer standpoint, you sacrifice two things:

  1. Experience
  2. Relationships

I wrote about this last year when I compared Facebook to the Walmart of social media. Getting my Hoffman hot dogs in any store in the country loses it’s appeal; it’s specialness. Eventually what will happen in the attempt to mass produce and keep up with the demand, the experience will deteriorate and so will the quality of the product.

I’m looking at you, Facebook and everyone in your footsteps.

I’ve been spending less time on Facebook and more on Instagram and Foursquare lately. Me! The Facebook addict.

You know why? Because I like going to small shops, and I’d rather spend more hours visiting four small boutiques tailored to me exactly, than to go to one big box and get everything. So I’d rather skip from one app to another because I know exactly what I’m getting when I visit each one.

We go to the big box store to save money and time, right? Not because we want to stroll about in a warehouse with concrete floors and fluorescent lighting.

Remember when each social network started out with a very single, simple functionality? Before it started to try and take over the social world? The biggest thing I remember is that was when we were cherry picking our audience. Soon, it starts to get out of control and we find we have hundreds if not thousands of “friends.”

We are now trying to mass produce friendships and it’s not working. 

I already have a false sense of relationship with, say, my morning radio personality or news anchor. For example,  Scott Simon comes into my home every Saturday morning while we over a steaming mug of coffee. That’s an intimate time, one which I haven’t shared with some of my closest friends. He has no idea who I am.

That false sense of intimacy is happening in our regular online “friendships.”

The definition of friend has suddenly loosened. Who do you call a friend now? We have friends we’ve never met in real life! Or have known far longer online than offline. You know what happens when you have hundreds if not thousands of “friends?” You forget they aren’t really friends, and you hold them to the same standards and expectations you would a real friend. And you get let down. Way too often.

I’m not trying to be Debbie Downer here. There is no denying my life (and, no doubt, yours) is FAR richer from the relationships we’ve created online. The same holds true for brands, and the relationships you are building there.

We suddenly have a lot more on our plate as we add relationship management to our digital strategies. The real goal is to build a brand be it corporate or personal. The icing is, we made a few really awesome and deep relationships. Let’s not one-stop shop our relationships, and start allowing more forgiveness and openness.