Heard of the dunbar number? Yes? No? Don’t worry, it’s not rocket science. It’s the number 150. What makes this number special is its application to every individual’s social circle. Perhaps you have heard of this magic number 150 when you were reading up on that social media marketing tip or in that article about social theories.
The dunbar number has been thrown around quite a bit but you probably never realised the significance of the number 150 derived from a Mr Dunbar.
Well, here are some facts about this magic number! Great for those who have yet to come across it, or for those know the number but yet, don’t really know it.
1. It’s really young.
The number was ‘discovered’ not too long ago, probably about 10-20 years ago by… (go to the next point!)
2. Want to guess who derived that number…..?
Did you get it right? (hint; It’s called Dunbar’s number)
Answer: Robin Dunbar. He is a British psychologist and anthropologist, and a specialist in Primate behaviour. Currently, Professor Dunbar teaches at the University of Oxford.
3. There’s meaning behind 150.
150 is the number of people that one person, such as yourself, has meaningful connections with, the ones that you care about. Forget your Facebook hundreds, thousands of friends, your twitter and instagram followers or any social media platform connections for that matters. This is the real social aspect of your life.
4. Lucky guess… not.
This number was not derived from a one-off observation from one researcher. Similar studies conducted years ago by researchers, before and after Dunbar, also show a pattern that is centralised around this number.
5. Generally applicable.
Remember, this number refers to meaningful relationships you have with others. Ones that you are connected to, you bother to connect to, those people that you think of… The number is a general average based on social studies but certainly your social circle number could be higher or lower. It’s not a popularity race, and you could potentially have more than 150 people that you care for deeply.
Now think about this, and I’m not trying to suggest the exploitation of human relationships here but just give this a thought. If you could use your 150 contacts (and that’s just the average amount a person has), and reach out to 1 out of the 150, which in turn, has another 150 contacts you could reach out to (and this could go on and on), that’s some big math numbers to be done there.
It may sound very simplistic and idealistic in thought right? Though, did you know that this is already happening?
Let’s take for example on Facebook, that you know Ally, who has a friend Betty. You aren’t friends with Betty but when Betty posts a photo of Ally on Facebook and tags her, you get to see that photo and are also able to like and/or comment on that photo. On that photo, there could be some other comments from both Ally’s and/or Betty’s friends whom you aren’t friends with, but by commenting on that one photo, all who are involved in commenting are now somewhat connected. Say you see a stranger, someone named John and his comments on that photo and decides to converse with him. John reciprocates by conversing with you, and just like that, your circle of people you could reach out to expands! If both of you become Facebook friends, in future, whenever John likes/comments on your photos or posts, his friends could potentially see what he commented on your photos, and your reach to other people thereby increases once more. You are leveraging on your 150 to reach out to other’s 150.
Sounds complicated but just substitute yourself in that equation and it would start to make sense, I promise. We’ve all been through that, albeit probably in a different manner! What we get out of this ever-expanding circle is that relationships between people is a never-ending process. You get to meet new people everyday if you choose to do so (there are 7 billion people out there, so don’t worry about running out of people to meet/reach out to).
If you’re running a company, and are trying to gain outreach beyond your regular group of fans/followers (I mean, they already are following you right?), you should really consider the power of the dunbar. The power from the dunbar comes when 1 is able to reach out to 150. Your company already has a foundation of a set number of people. Whether its 2 of you, or 10, or 50 or 100 or 500 and beyond, each employee can be an advocate for your marketing efforts. Articles on employee advocacy promote the power of it, and recognise the value of each employees’ reach. (Oracle managed to transform themselves from being socially inept to socially savvy using employees! Check out the article and many more on our NewzSocial FB Page)
So harness that power, use this knowledge of relationships to reach out to a wider set of audience, to get your brand name out there!
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