Friday, 11 March 2011

How many friends have you really got?

We are spending a lot of time looking at future developments in Social Networking. A very live and interesting topic continues to be "Numbers of friends". With regard to Facebook, there seems to be a wide range of statistics, but the most reliable we have found suggests that the average friend number is 150. That said there are an lot of Facebook accounts with zero or very few friends, while apparently the American comedian Steve Hofstetter has over 100,000! The phenomenon of 'collecting friends' seems to be receding and it appears to be that Social Networking users are becoming (at least a little) more selective about who they 'friend'.

There is a 5/15/50 theory about friendship. It says that we have 5 friends that we would trust with our lives, 15 that we would be willing to have dinner with once a week and 50 who we would be happy to see on a reasonably regular basis. The suggestion is that future social networks (www.path.com already being an example) will actually limit the number of friends you can have!

What will be really interesting is how having a greatly reduced number of friends will effect how we use social networking. There is an argument that says having such a small group of selected friends will lead to even more banal exchanges, as people avoid saying anything that might be seen to favour one friend over another?

1 comment:

  1. There's some research I've seen that suggests the average number of people we have as friends in an online social network or whose numbers we have in our mobile phones is about 200. The research goes on to suggest that this represents the same number of people that you would know if you lived in the bronze/iron ages. Basically it's the population of a small village and our brains haven't broken the mould of being able to think of more than about 200 people as acquaintances.

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