The Value of Facebook Friendships you're measuring the worth of a company like Facebook, what is the most important metric to use?

Posted by Stacey on Fri.

Last week, Facebook announced that it had reached a simply incredible milestone: the 1 billion unique active Facebook user had registered. But there is another statistic that was overlooked amongst the hype surrounding the 1 billion active user – and that is the number of total friendships on Facebook.

I will admit that I was certainly impressed when I heard that Facebook had 1 billion active users. My mind immediately tried to remember the current total population of the Earth (which, according to various sources, is at least 7 billion people), and then I was simply blown away when I realised that one in seven people on Earth is on Facebook. When you factor out babies and young children, the very old (which is not to say that many of our seniors are not flocking to Facebook on a daily basis!) and those who live in areas so technologically remote that they haven't even heard of Facebook… the proportion becomes simply astounding.

A New Metric: Friendships

Then just as I was starting to realise the vastness of this social phenomena known as Facebook, I found out about another crazy statistic: there are 140.3 billion total friendships on Facebook.

Many social media experts are saying that the number of total friendships on Facebook is the most important metric to track about the company, and that it is more important than the number of users, the current stock price or the company's total asset worth. Why is this?

The Value of Friendship

Because this shows that Facebook is real, it is active and it is alive. It's all very well having people sign up to the service, but if those people do not interact with each other in the way that Facebook originally intended, then the 1 billion user milestone is all but meaningless.

This latest metric shows that Facebook users really are active, and they’re bringing their friends online. With the ability to group and segment our friends, Facebook is increasingly allowing users to organise their online lives in much the same way as their physical lives.

I would be interested to see some data on the number of people who joined Facebook solely because they wanted to be a part of the online version of a physical friendship group.

For example, my Mother's Group – a group of twenty new mothers with babies born in the same month – originally met in person on a weekly basis, but we soon formed a Facebook group to stay in touch after our initial sessions were over. Of our twenty people member base, only two are not on Facebook – and to say that they miss out on the daily goings on of the group is an understatement.

Approaching Dunbar’s Number

And an aside for anyone who has read Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point – the latest metrics show that, on average, every Facebook user has 140.3 friendships. This comes remarkably close to Dunbar's Number – 148 – which, apparently is the maximum number of simultaneous friendships that a person can hold in their brain.

Is it just me, or are the similarities between the world of Facebook and the real world starting to become a little creepy?


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