Just 150 – that’s all!

Have you noticed how social media can become a bit competitive?

I have more Twitter followers than you.

Have you reached the magic 500 LinkedIn Connections? (Magic because above 500 is shown only as 500+ on your Profile front page).

Then you get the social media beggars: please like my page so I can get this or that or the other. Everyone thinks it’s a numbers game.


Well the bad news is:

Followers/Connections/Likes are vanity

Engagement is sanity

Leads are king

Monetising social media is about converting your audience into leads and that can only be achieved by engagement.

The really bad news is there is a limit to how many people you can have a meaningful, stable, social relationships at any point in time.


Just 150

Yep, just 150 – give or take a few. That’s the maximum number of meaningful social relationships that any one person can have with other people at any point in time. This was identified by anthropologist Robin Dunbar who came up with the number from his research into the brain sizes of primates. Hence, it is called Dunbar’s number.


But don’t despair. If, like me, you have large social media audiences you need to find innovative ways of engaging with them, or at least of tracking the engagement they have with you so that you focus on returning the engagement with those parts of the audience that will be most beneficial to your business.


Lists and tags

I use lists and tags to group all of my social media contacts and, in fact, all of the prospects in my database. I can then use those lists and tags to see what level of engagement I’m getting from any particular group or segment of my audience.

I can tailor messages and the media used to reach each segment of my market, and I can monitor and track the responses and interactions I get.


Let’s take Twitter as an example. I have (at the time of writing) around 3,300 followers on my social media business ID and follow around 3,600. I can’t possibly read all the tweets I’m sent – they come in too fast. Twitter does notify me of key interactions by my followers and I always try and make time to respond to these personally if I can. But engagement is two-way so I need to engage with the people I’m following based on their tweets, their content.


My lists

So I group the people I’m following on a number of key lists. Here are some of them:

  • People who have added me to lists – they’ve taken the trouble to do it so show a higher level of engagement than the average follower
  • People who retweet or like my stuff – as above but not quite such strong engagement
  • My customers – always good to engage with them
  • My hot prospects – people that have shown interest in my products or service
  • My dream customer list – people I really want to work with
  • Key influencers – people with large followings that might be interested in my stuff

There are a few more and you should come up with your own.


I regularly spend a few minutes engaging with the members of each list, reading and commenting on their tweets and content, developing the engagement and making them aware of me. It’s that engagement that encourages people to share your stuff and that grows your audience.


This approach, whether it is using Twitter or Facebook Lists, LinkedIn tags or whatever your particular favourite social media tool uses, enables you to focus in on a small section of your audience at any given time and give them the attention they deserve. The attention they need if they are to begin to know, like and trust you and, eventually, buy from you.


Don’t try to be all things to all of your audience. Use lists and tags to segment, get focused and get personal. How do you segment your social media audiences? Leave a reply below.