Think the more followers you accumulate, the more people you’re engaging with on Twitter? Think again. A new study has been released that suggests that there is a biological limit to how many friends you can have on social networks, and it’s probably not as high as you think.
In a new study [PDF], researchers from Indiana University analysed a over 380 million tweets from a 4 year time period, which translated to about 25 million distinct conversations. They wanted to see whether a “saturation point” could be reached, when an individual starts to prune their network to keep it more manageable.
From this massive amount of data, they found that the magic number of friends (those Twitter contacts that a user maintains regular contact with) is somewhere between 100 and 200. This is in-line with theories that, as humans, our biological limit on the number of relationships we can satisfactorily maintain is approximately 150.
As the researchers explain:
“This finding suggests that even though modern social networks help us to log all the people with whom we meet and interact, they are unable to overcome the biological and physical constraints that limit stable social relations.”
It’s interesting to think that technology like Twitter can “technically” enable us to connect with a limitless number of people, but our own humanity might be restricting us from connecting with the majority of our followers on a deep level.
So, while you might think that you’re doing a good job juggling the 1,200 “relationships” you have on Twitter, you’re likely either a) not giving most of those connections the attention they deserve, or b) super-human.