Here’s the December 2008 Facebook Stats post, and the June 2009 Facebook Stats post.

It’s been eighteen months since I did a Facebook stats update. During that time, I got up to over 500 Facebook friends. However, I then started to remove some of my Facebook friends. It was on purpose, as I was trying to stay connected with people I wanted to. I was hoping to be more intentional with the people that remained Facebook friends. And, I was curious about Dunbar’s Number.

Dunbar’s Number is a theory which says there is a max to which you can maintain stable social relationships. While you may “know” of hundreds of people, you can only maintain friendships with a smaller amount of people. There is no precise number for Dunbar’s Number, but 150 is commonly used. I was curious about this theory after reading a post by Seth Godin.

I was reducing my Facebook Friends because I wanted to focus in on people. They were people I knew in the community, they were neighbors, they were in my journey group. I cut a lot of Facebook Friends that I hadn’t communicated with in years.

Earlier in 2010, I was down to around 270 Facebook Friends. I liked it. However, the Facebook Friend requests kept rolling in to my inbox. People I didn’t know, people I hadn’t spoken to in over ten years, people that I thought didn’t like me, they all wanted to be Facebook Friends.

I began to soften on my stance of holding to Dunbar’s Number. I looked at my life, and my work, and realized it would almost be foolhardy to try and attempt to keep down my Facebook Friends. Plus, I’m creating content on a consistent basis, and I want people to experience it. If people want to stay connected with me on Facebook, then perhaps they’ll want to experience the content I create.

In six months, I doubled the amount of Facebook Friends without really trying. It’s not that I’m popular, but rather emphasizing how much people use Facebook as a means of connection and contact.

Also, as I’ve seen my role at Christ Community Church become more visible, more people want to connect with me. People want to know what I think about Jesus or other issues. This is a good thing. Even if I don’t maintain a “stable social relationship” with them, as it relates to Dunbar’s Number, I can still influence them.

I much prefer Twitter, but 500 million people are on Facebook. It’s where people are at. Facebook is a better database, rolodex, directory and black book than the originals.

That being said, here are the latest stats with my 529 Facebook Friends. These numbers track the Facebook Friends I have talked to verbally.

Past month – 94 (17.8%)
1-6 months – 82 (15.5%)
6-12 months – 53 (10%)
12-24 months – 46 (8.7%)
2-5 years – 36 (6.8%)
5-10 years – 21 (4%)
10-15 years – 22 (4.2%)
15+ years – 52 (9.8%)
Never talked to – 122 (23%)

Here’s the comparison to the 2009 stats. First I have the percentage change, and then in parenthesis I have the 2009 percent to the 2010 percent.

Past month – +5.5% (13.3% to 17.8%)
1-6 months – +4.2% (11.3% to 15.5%)
6-12 months – +1.7% (8.3% to 10%)
12-24 months – +4.3% (4.4% to 8.7%)
2-5 years – +2% (4.8% to 6.8%)
5-10 years – -9.6% (13.6% to 4%)
10-15 years – -14.4% (18.6% to 4.2%)
15+ years – +1.3% (8.5% to 9.8%)
Never talked to – +5.6% (17.2% to 23%)
What do the stats show? Has my Dunbar’s Number experiment changed anything?
In the six months where I’ve taken on Facebook Friends, since giving up on trying to stay under 300 Facebook Friends, I’ve managed to connect with people I have talked to recently. Over a 10% increase in connections with people I have talked to in the past year. That’s a good thing. I want to stay connected with people I’m interacting with in the community and here at CCC.
Where trying to apply Dunbar’s Number may have been helpful is getting rid of some of the “dead connections”. Connections with people I haven’t talked to in over five years was down over 22%. While I want the best for people in life, for me to be effective in relationships I want to focus in on those I’ll be interacting with on a consistent basis. Granted, I know Facebook has a setting where you can block specific Facebook friends from appearing in your News Feed. I do use that, but prefer not to with most Facebook friends.
And being Facebook Friends with people I’ve never talked to? Well, that’s due to a more visible role at CCC, my work appearing on other blogs and sites, and more people connecting with me through this blog. It’s a low sample, but there are a huge number of Facebook Fans of this blog that I do not know at all. Yet, they read these posts. I’ve connected with them online and talked God, life, Lost, Pixar, Huskers and so much more. The world is flat. (Thank you loyal blog readers!)

I think there are a lot of good points to be gleaned from Dunbar’s Number theory, but for where I’m at in life and work it isn’t something I can practice through social media connections. Nor would I want to at the moment.

I’m glad to see that I’m verbally talking to more of my Facebook Friends. This may not always be the case, but it’s also encouraging that a number of people are wanting to connect with me because of the work I’m doing in life, at CCC and online.
The internet will always be changing, and my approach will be changing to adapt to those changes. My approach will also change as my life changes. Again, I will always be adapting. I will always try to be purposeful with what I do. I’ll make mistakes, like some of my Dunbar’s Number experiment with Facebook Friends, but I’ll learn and apply it to the next approach.

I should add, if you want to be Facebook Friends just let me know!

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