Dunbar’s Number In
A curious number really… 100 – 250…
Dunbar’s Number, which is most commonly rounded to 150.
As I explore this new web app that helps you identify active vs inactive Facebook friends, I’m really struck by something.
Look at the number of people I have “Safe Zoned”.
Those of us in marketing TALK about understanding Dunbar’s number, but I think it’s very striking to see it play out on my own Facebook profile.
What Is Dunbar’s Number?
“Dunbar’s number is a suggested cognitive limit to the number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships. These are relationships in which an individual knows who each person is and how each person relates to every other person. […] It has been proposed to lie between 100 and 250, with a commonly used value of 150.”
It was originally developed based on how animals and primates keep track of the other animals in their groups or “communities”.
It’s worth noting – because there seems to be some confusion – that Dunbar’s number is NOT the number of your bestest friends or even closest colleagues – but is instead the number of people that you have active, working relationships with, that you keep up with things going on in their world, and that you know how they relate to others within your sphere.
Dunbar’s number is a VERY important number in social marketing because it really shows you what you’re up against to get REMEMBERED as a unique top-of-mind individual on a routine basis.
My Facebook profile when this image above was captured, had 1111 friends, and so that’s basically 250 of 1000 so one-fourth are in the “safe zone”.
(Less than that were actually engaged within the last month, but your brain doesn’t need this-months-engagement to have a stable trusting relationship.)
There’s a big discussion over on my profile about my testing with this app http://on.fb.me/1BIcJvX and if you dig through the comments there are links to it as well if you’re feeling curious. (I’ll be reviewing it soon.)
But it’s these numbers that have really given me pause while digging through the results.
I also find myself looking at the other 850’ish individuals and wondering what went wrong, what didn’t stick, whether that’s simply inevitable, and what (if anything!) can be done to re-enter their sphere.
Oh sure – majority of these 1100 people – know who I am – and I know who they are. We might even randomly comment on each others stuff two or three times a year. And since many of us are in business we may intentionally reach out to connect when things seem stagnant.
But those numbers are NOT the numbers Dunbar’s number is talking about… and not the number that has the most important impact on not only your business but your life.
(Yes, WAY more than 250 people can have YOU within their Dunbar’s number, but you can’t have ALL of them within yours!)
And frankly – the failure of so many to reply to a direct post – probably isn’t any “failure” at all – but mostly serves to confirm Dunbar’s number.
In fact, you probably may not know this, but Facebook is built with this number in mind, and all aspects of the site are optimized for the average user who has between 100 and 250 friends.
Until a few years ago the average number of friends a person had on Facebook was about 120-150. Today it’s closer to 220, which I should note INCLUDES the number of pages they’ve liked.(Suddenly you understand why your busy newsfeed isn’t calibrated to handle your 1,000+ friends right?)
Whether we’re more like our monkey ancestors than we like to admit, or just need to pay more attention to Dunbar’s number, one thing is true… it’s our friends who are there for us, consistently, in a pinch, day in and day out, whether we’re dealing with a cranky child, or celebrating a new work promotion, that mean so much to us!
Thank you <3
~ Kim ~
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