You have thousands of followers on twitter, hundreds of friends on Facebook, hundreds on LinkedIn, and maybe some in other places. Surely you do not have enough attention to stay in touch or interact with those? While social networks and social media have enabled the social that distinguishes us from other species to scale – there are still limitations to the amount of attention we have.
- The number of posts increases with the number of followers but saturates at around 300 followers
- The number of posts increases with the number of friends you have (defined as people who sent a direct public message (with the @ sign) to another person at least twice) but does not saturate
- The number of friends you have increases with the number of followers but it does saturate at around 400 followers
- Reciprocity is clearly present in twitter – with 90% of a user’s friends reciprocating attention by being friends of the user as well.
The authors conclude that since the ratio of friends to followers is so small, there are really two different networks at work – a very dense one made up of followers and followees and a sparser one of actual friends.
The latter proves to be the more influential network in driving Twitter usage…
So what does this mean to word of mouth and to how one should engage in those conversations?
Clearly the network of friends is more important that the broader network, but when someone like Guy Kawasaki (see here how he uses Twitter compared to the NYT), who has over 60K followers, posts something, that does drive traffic to the link he posts.
It would be interesting to see how much value people attribute to recommendations from friends versus that of followers.
(hat tip Brian Solis)