How many contacts can you manage through a social network?

It is inevitable that Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and other online social networks will increase the size of our social groups since it’s not time-consuming to cultivate these relationships. You are able to constantly monitor your friends’ lives through photos and regular “status updates”. But how big can our social network grow before we are no longer able to logically analyze the relationships within the net”friends”? How many contacts in the network can our brain grasp and  recognize?

Do social media help in business?

Nowadays it is natural that companies communicate to their customers through social media as it’s an effective platform for building lasting relationships with people. Undoubtedly, more and more businesses make effective use of social networks to improve their brand recognition. But do these networks really allow people to interact more effectively? Take social networking in our private lives for example. How many of your “friends” on social networks have you spoken to recently? I bet the majority would say months ago. How many of your “friends” on Facebook are barely your acquaintances? It’s easy to maintain virtual, digital “friendships”- no frictions, no need to nurture them, no time involved. They simply exist once we acquire them.

150 “friends” is the optimum social network size

A few days ago I came across the article “Primates on Facebook”  in which the author revealed the findings of Dr Robin Dunbar, an anthropologist from Oxford University, who concluded that the cognitive capacity of the brain limits the size of the social network that an individual of any given species can develop. Dr Dunbar claims that the size of the human brain allows stable networks of about 150. This is the number of people that you can actually keep track of. Apparently, many institutions are arranged according to this number. In the organization of this size, everybody knows each other and that’s why the amount of bureaucracy can be reduced. Another anthropologist, Peter Marsden, of Harvard University, found that Americans, even if they socialize intensively have only a tiny group of individuals whom they consider close friends and discuss important matters with.

Facebook not that intimate

Dr Cameron Marlow, the “in-house sociologist” at Facebook, found that the average number of “friends” in a Facebook network is 120, which is pretty consistent with Dr Dunbar’s hypothesis, and it seems that women have more contacts than men. Moreover, Dr Marlow noticed, that the number of people on an individual’s friend list with whom they regularly interact is remarkably small and stable. In other words, the more “active” or intimate the interaction, the smaller and more stable the group. He also found that the average man having 120 friends generally responds to only seven of his friends by leaving comments on the posting individual’s photos, status messages or “wall”. Women tend to be more sociable, responding to ten. With two-way communication such as e-mails or chats, the average man interacts with only four people and the average woman with six.

Twitter user focusing too much on gaining followers

The focus on acquiring contacts is also a potential blockage to the Twitter development. This is also shown by a very open and honest post on TwiTip. It is just not possible to handle multiple thousands of followers.
Don’t Follow So Many People. Following is a promise. To care, to watch, even if intermittently. To link, to help.
This is a remark by Chris Johnson, guest post on TwiTip: “5 More Things You Do To Get Business On Twitter

We do not socialize as much as we think

Apparently, the members of social networks are not really “networking“ that much. They prefer to “broadcast and advertise their lives or business” passively to the net of acquaintances but not interact with them. In general, we stay loyal to our small circle of friends where we have real intimacy. That’s why we need to reconsider the rush for more “friends”. Why connect if you don’t use these connections? We would love to know your opinion about this subject. Please comment below or meet and discuss with us on Twitter: @GOYELLO