Why you can never have more than 150 facebook friends

Why you can never have more than 150 facebook friends

When you try to appeal to everyone, you’ll invariably appeal to no one.

An anthropologist named Robin Dunbar discovered that there was a pretty strong correlation between the size of primate tribes (like baboon platoons and orangutan gangs) and the size of their brains.

That includes us slightly less hairy humans.  

Plotting human brain size on Dunbar’s graph suggested that the largest a human tribe could be was around 150 people.

And it turned out to be true.

Dunbar tested his theory and found case after case after case where “something changed” when the group size tipped over the magic 150

From evidence of paleolithic villages to indigenous Australian tribes to countless corporate companies, humans, it seems, are a social species.

We automatically keep track of all the intrapersonal relationships within the group - but only up to 150 people.

Beyond that number, our brains simply cannot handle the calculations and factions begin to form.

So you may have 1500 “friends” on Facebook, but your true tribe, whether that’s your family, circle of friends, school, company, tennis club, or protest group, probably doesn’t exceed 150 people.

Dunbar believes that we made the leap to 150 when we developed language. We could, in theory, make another leap the next time innovation in human communication explodes.

Who knows, with VR, AR and AI, it could be just around the corner.

In light of this, it’s not surprising that the world of marketing has moved from a model of 'mass markets' to 'mass niches.' 

Brands aren’t speaking to a blank sea of faces but lots of little groups defined by their own special thing.

Trying to create and nurture a small number of superfans, for you or your brand, is often much more effective than trying to get one million average fans.

To learn more about 'tribes' and how they are vital to a successful social media strategy sign up now to our Social Media course from Ogilvy and their Global Head of Social the incredible Thomas Crampton. 

All right stop, celebrate and listen.

All right stop, celebrate and listen.

Big ones, small ones, some as big as Bitcoin #FridayFunFacts

Big ones, small ones, some as big as Bitcoin #FridayFunFacts