Social media – friends or fans?

“There is a difference between a friend and a fan. Fans have a smaller sense of commitment, smaller levels of interest. There is a continuum of loyalty whereby fans stand at one end and friends at the other. Influence occurs across the continuum but it is more certain and lasting on the friend’s end.” ~ Charles Li

Followers and fans, it all sounds good, but the power of a friend is something to behold be it in social media or the everyday realm. Friends are harder to come by and they are far more loyal. A friendship is a 2 way street with contributions on both sides. It takes work to sustain friendships and there is risk in any friendship. The truth is you can only have so many friendships. It’s not the 500+ you see in your social networks. According to Oxford University professor of evolutionary anthropology Rubin Dunbar, the size of our brain limits our ability to manage social circles to around 150 friends regardless of our sociability. This is on-line or off-line.

“The brands that are winning “true influence” are winning because they have people who are having real interactions with other real human beings. It is much more practical/realistic for businesses to think about using these opportunities to connect and have a sincere engagement instead of trying to rack up their numbers.” ~Mitch Joel

Think about your best friends. How many of them do you really have? Think of all the acquaintances you have or had. Go back through your emails, or even all those on your LinkedIn network, or your facebook friends. Do you know who they all are? Do some of them not readily come to mind? Do they provide you influence or security? When you look at numbers you might think so but in reality they don’t. True friendships in your personal life are as good as gold and so are those in your professional life. When it comes to connecting with others, quality is far better than quantity.