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Understanding Online “Friendships” Helps Businesses

February 23, 2012

How many “friends” can any individual really have, even in the technology enabled world of Facebook. Sure there are celebrities with millions of followers and even some businesses boast the same. Yet the simple reality is that humans can only maintain a certain number of close relations and understanding this helps companies build a strategy to be a useful part of the social network.

Throughout human history evidence suggests that 150 relationships are about the maximum for any individual. Many farming villages would break into two when their numbers went beyond 150 and early armies split into similarly sized groups to permit a useful and effective number of relationships. That might explain why the average Facebook user actually has 130 friends, not thousands or millions as some would boast.

Within those groups some relationships are stronger than others, while some are limited to a specific need, such as guidance or feedback on different kinds of purchases or other questions.  In the social web, this information on human relationships is essential in helping companies create strategies for building and sustaining deeper relationships with customers.

More insights on the core human needs driving use of the social networking are part of the newest study conducted by the integer Group for the Coca‑Cola Retailing Research Council of North America. The study can be found at www.ccrrc.org (North America page).

Michael Sansolo

Research Director

Coca‑Cola Retailing Research Council of North America