Thursday, December 15, 2011

High Quality Connections: Dunbar's Number

When building your social media strategy, the quest for followers to spread your message is eternal. It's about creating a mass following, placing a viral campaign in-front of them that encourages sharing with their followers and so-on. Hopefully your viral campaign is aligned with your core brand attributes but at the same time, you spark an emotional response that propels sharing beyond your extended circles. This is inbound social media marketing at it's best. But maintaining a high quality relationship or connection is another matter, right?

A close friend recently shared this video with me that sparked my interest. It talks about the next wave of social media services aimed at only sharing information with the high quality connections you have, according to Dunbar's number. Dunbar states that each human being can only really maintain a high quality connection with 150 people.

The video is from "The Daily" Interactive News App for iPad - featuring "Next Wave" by Gary Vaynerchuk. Watch this edition posted on YouTube:


What I find fascinating about this video is that it talks about how Dunbar's number might apply to a brand's relationship with it's high quality connections within the context of a social media strategy. Gary's forecast is that individuals will only chose to have a high quality relationship with their Dunbar's list. Sure, this may be true, but what does this mean for brand strategists? Do we only have to maintain a relationship with our Dunbar's number?

This is where I go back to my marketing education, where Pareto's Principle (otherwise known as the 80:20 rule) applies. So, if we applied Dunbar's Number to the 20%, that would mean that we need about 750 connections to be able to decipher which were of true quality. Add to that micro-relationships, using micro-content sharing sites like Twitter and Instagram, perhaps the number is multiplied by a factor of five to reach a critical mass.

Is 3,750 followers the magic number to achieve success in a digital marketing strategy? And what tools do you need to make it happen? Answers to these questions will be posted in a separate article. In the meantime, feel free to connect with me on Twitter @markhamimages.