How many Facebook friends and Twitter followers do you have?

We came across this study from US-based Forrester research today. It charts the average number of friends on Facebook and MySpace and the number of people the average person follows on Twitter. Of course, these figures have been compiled in the US and the UK is generally a few months behind.

However, it’s interesting to us that while younger, Generation Y Facebook users have more friends on Facebook and MySpace, Generation X Twitter users follow more people.

Of course, comparing these charts to similar ones from last year shows an increase across the board. (The research does not take into account platform popularity, so even though favour for Myspace is continuing to slip, those who do use it are making more connections).

Robin Dunbar is an evolutionary anthropologist who studied at, amongst other places, Bristol University. He formulated ‘Dunbar’s number’, which is described as ‘the cognitive limit to the number of individuals with whom any one person can maintain stable relationships’, or rather, the average maximum number of friends we can maintain at any one time.

Dunbar’s number is widely considered to be 150.

An article for the Observer in March 2010 suggested that even Facebook cannot increase this number. Is it coincidence that the average number of connections on Facebook is 135? And if so, what happens next?


If you found this article interesting, here’s the full interview with Robin Dunbar for the Observer:


Is Twitter in Decline? The state of the Twittersphere

There’s been a lot of scepticism in the press lately about Twitter, with concerns that it has been declining and that people have been losing interest. But the figures suggest that the opposite is true.

Growth of the Twittersphere has not been as high as 13% since March 2009, but it is still growing.


Many journalists have pointed out that Twitter is still a minnow compared to Facebook, but this is like comparing chalk and cheese.

Twitter has a different purpose in life to Facebook – it is a collection of blog headlines, whereas Facebook takes on the role of online diary and photo album. Twitter’s growth has been in part down to the ability to get into the mind of its celebrity users. And you wouldn’t go on Facebook to follow a celebrity – many famous faces have learnt the ins and outs of the site’s privacy settings the hard way.

Twitter remains unique and unchallenged in the microblogging market.

But part of the reason why its monthly growth may have slumped could be down to the lack of instruction given to new members, drawn in initially by companies calling to…

‘Follow us on Twitter’, or

‘Retweet to win a prize’

But we know that those using Twitter are more engaged than before – the average user is following 4 times more people than 6 months ago, has almost 6 times more followers and has quadrupled the number of monthly Tweets.

Other research from HubSpot identifies that the vast majority of Twitter users still have fewer than 100 followers and follow fewer than 100 themselves.

Finally, here are some statistics about the number of tweets per day, from Twitter themselves. In 2007, this number was a mere 50,000 per day. As of today, this figure is over 50m – or 600 tweets every second.

The truth is that, while Facebook is a living record of our daily lives, the first home of microblogging is still Twitter. It’s the place to share articles without having to write lengthy prose. It’s the place to dip in, make your feelings known and dip out again. Put simply, it’s a less time-consuming, less engaging platform than Facebook. And often, that’s exactly what we need.