Maggie Shiels

How many friends do you need?

  • Maggie Shiels
  • 9 Apr 09, 08:22 GMT

Well, we all know that what we need is at least one really really good friend. But in the world of social networking, the average is 120. That's according stats from Facebook - which, by the way, has just topped 200m. Now that is a lot of friends to poke and throw sheep at, whatever way you slice and dice it.

It's clearly a watershed moment for the company which is just over five years old. I have no idea if the two-hundred-millionth active user was given a bottle of champagne or free lunch with founder Mark Zuckerberg, but I feel they should get something, even if it is a free t-shirt!

facebook200m.pngOne thing Mr Zuckerberg did to mark this momentous happening was write a blog post. He also announced a new space on Facebook where people can write and share their stories about how Facebook has helped them to give back to their communities, to effect change or to connect with a distant relative. In other words, Facebook community, this is your opportunity to write about how wonderful Facebook is.

They have put a cool timeline on the blog page that shows how fast the community has grown - but really, it underlines how much of the world still has to be conquered by the service. World domination is still some way away, it seems.

But before anyone goes totally negative on the whole online friends routine, a study by IBM and MIT [460Kb PDF] has discovered that there is money to be made from those buddies.

The IBM collaboration with MIT's Sloan School of Management tracked the electronic communications of over 7,000 volunteers for three years. The aim of the work was to put a dollar amount on the effect of those electronic and virtual relationships.

Researchers found that having strong connections to managers (yes, sucking up to the boss) can boost the bottom line. On average, it adds up to $548 (£365) in extra revenue a month.

This conclusion is based on data and mathematical formulas that analysed e-mail traffic, address books and buddy lists of 2,600 IBM consultants over the course of a year.

No word on how those involved in the failed Sun takeover talks rated!


  • Comment number 1.

    There is a mistake in the fist sentence.

    "Well, we all know that what we need is as least one really really good friend."

    It should be:

    "Well, we all know that what we need is at least one really really good friend."

  • Comment number 2.

    "...a mistake in the fist sentence..." Another victim of the law stating that all posts pointing out spelling mistakes will contain at least one spelling mistake. (Apart from this one: victory is mine!)

  • Comment number 3.

    I'm going to claim it as irony. Although I don't really believe it myself.

  • Comment number 4.

    Am I alone in not spotting this mistake in the first post?!

    The two lines of text look the same.

  • Comment number 5.

    There seems to be a problem in the URL for the IBM and MIT study. It's coming up as invalid.

    It should be:

  • Comment number 6.

    @4 You'd be the FIST to admit it. :-)

  • Comment number 7.

    the mistake is "as" instead of "at", in reply to tonysibley.

  • Comment number 8.

    #4: Yes the human brain ignores certain words, or it at least processes them differently. You can ask someone to count the number of Ts in a sentence for example, and many will ignore words like 'at', 'it'.

    Back on topic - On the point about having your boss as a friend on Facebook - bit of a risk isn't it?
    Only a few weeks ago a girl was sacked for saying her job was boring. Instead of trying to find out why or offer her a more stimulating role, or even just accepting that some jobs are boring(!), her boss sacked her!

  • Comment number 9.

    The difference between “as” and “at” was spotted, but no one noticed the missing word in the third sentence? (“That's according [to] stats”) I guess a lot of us are so used to not seeing the “t”s, we do not even notice when they are not there.

    #8 Avoiding face-book, may not prevent your boss from snooping. Of course putting bad things about your job, on any internet blog, might not be a good idea, but one should assume someone has access to everything typed at a workplace computer.

  • Comment number 10.

    Facebook is becoming incredibly powerful, I honestly think that it will replace email eventually.

    Mark Zuckerberg is either a very clever guy or a really good one who loves his creation, I hope the second.

    I think the BBC bloggers should return to facebook and give it a serious once over. It is a huge difference from the app infested nightmare of a year ago. Afterabout 2 weeks of marking the nasty apps as spam I hardly get any rubbish like that.

    Just the content I want.

  • Comment number 11.

    Does anyone else actually not see the real mistake.

    "Well, we all know that what we need is at least one really really good friend. But in the world of social networking, the average is 120. That's according stats from Facebook ..."

    "That's according stats from Facebook"

    I think the writer herself spends too much time on facebook where no one checks their spelling and grammar.

    Should read:

    "That's according to stats from Facebook"

  • Comment number 12.

    By the way, after spotting that mistake, I did not bother reading the rest of the article.

    If the writer does not feel the need to spend time to verify the content of her article, then why should I waste my time reading it if I cannot get past the first few lines without an obvious mistake.

  • Comment number 13.

    dolomite3g: But you decided to waste your time telling everybody you weren't going to waste your time reading the article? Right....

  • Comment number 14.

    Are all the comments on here by grammer Nazis. It is a blog post you should be more interested in the content than the grammer.

    As for the content of the blog. Surprise, surprise facebook is still growing and people that network earn more over their career.



The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites