How Many Facebook Friend’s Are Enough?

This post is in response to a discussion on JimTurners fan page, click here to view the original post How many facebook friends are enough?

Hi Jim

I would just like to add another opinion and explain a few of the reasons why someone would want a large network. Having a large friend list on its own isn’t actually much use because facebook doesn’t allow you to mail more than 20 friends at a time and I guess it’s clear from what others have posted it all depends what business you are in. I fully agree of the pointless nature of rushing to grow to 5000 friends just for the sake of it and without some end goal or reason for adopting this method

As a strategist I want to explore all areas without judgement to be able to asses the merits of each type of friending strategy. If you want to advise others you need to fully understand the pro’s and cons and not condemn something you don’t fully understand just because you haven’t personally explored it. I guess with facebook this is a problem as you have to make a choice, you can’t do both, and this is all the more reason why sharing knowledge and information is important and why I think this discussion is so useful

Malcolm Gladwell in his book the tipping point said that researchers looked at many factors regarding human networks and even analysed the maximum size of tribal villages across all cultures throughout history and the number they came out with was 148. because this was the maximum number of people you could possibly maintain a relationship with. In modern times and by using technology to aid and speed communication I suspect that Mari is correct in her figure of 250 – 500 people

I myself have grown my network rapidly over the past 2 months, this is just how it happened and was due to the people I came in contact with. I think after about 400 friends I couldn’t keep the same rigorous checking and personal messaging that I had until then. I was making a very targeted list with a specific objective in mind. As I grew larger my network has become infiltrated with more untargeted friends who added me just because I was quite visible in certain groups. After 700 friends I stopped adding any new ones and my friend list has grown on its own. What I have found is that the initial 400 friends have created a core of quality in my network that have attracted similar people so even though I am not targeting them they are attracted to me. Since most of the people who friend me are friends of friends and not random people who just stumbled on my profile. The people who I need to pay attention to naturally rise to the top. I just ignore all the background noise and concentrate on developing certain key relationships

The advantages of having a large network comes through the viral effects of the friend feed. If you have a product or service that you want to promote then under certain circumstances the further you can reach the better. Not everyone who uses facebook for business is looking for high end coaching clients or has a very small niche that they need to develop very personal relationships with. I think there is a very large area in between this and Macdonalds. And it is short sighted to infer that everyone who chooses to develop a large network is going to be a spammer. I also think that for many people one half of their business might need a small intimate network and the other a much larger less intimate network. Anyone who makes information products would always want to reach the widest audience possible. So I believe many people are split in their opinions because their businesses are not one dimensional and they might have different needs at different levels.

Having a large network means that if you want to launch a group on facebook and if you have targeted your friends carefully you will be able to grow your group quickly and the momentum of that growth can push your group to become viral. Take a look at the group “join the fight against cancer”, it has 184,000+ members and the admin can fully control what is shown in the links, the videos and pictures, this could be used as a very powerful traffic generator and all those impressions are for free. The key is how to get your group to hit critical mass where it just grows on its own. Since facebook raised the limit from 1200 to 5000 this gives most group admins a lot of scope for developing a relationship with a large number of people. As long as you give valuable content people don’t mind when you try and promote something and if they do they can always leave your group and join another one.

I think most people tend to forget that this is just a tiny corner of facebook that we inhabit and there is potential for many people to service different strata of the facebook population. The marketing tools for creating targeted lists in any niche are amazing and this has barely even been tapped. Too many are people trying to make a fast buck without thinking about the damage this does to their reputation. One friend likened it to a room full of car salesmen all trying to sell cars to each other.

I haven’t even mentioned the power of working together with other people with large networks and leveraging each other for mutual benefit. Or the benefits of having an integrated network where all your friends are friends with each other and what benefits that can give. That will be explored in later blog posts

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