You will find no shortage of opinions when you visit your favorite social media platform, and you’ll also find no shortage of opinions about social and communications platforms in general. There is no arguing with the fact that at the most basic level, social and comms platforms can be very useful tools in both marketing and our everyday lives. Whether you see them as more than that ultimately depends much more on you than on the platforms themselves. It’s how you see them – and most importantly how you use them – that determines your experience.
One question always seems to come up. Can you have too many online friends to keep track of? An article circulating from Media Post suggests that our brains are wired to limit the number of relationships we can juggle—about 150 to 200 relationships (even with the advantages of digital technology). So how does that jibe with where you are in terms of physical and online relationships?
It Really Comes Down to Personal Preference
Log into your favorite social platform, and right away you’ll will be presented with some important choices. It’s up to you to figure out your personal threshold. Do you give your notifications more than a passing glance and make it a point to respond promptly when people reach out to you? Do you go above and beyond to seek out opportunities to make connections or just put in your 15 minutes of scheduled social time and call it a day? Do you lock in on the negative items in your newsfeed or balance things out by seeking positive, uplifting stories?
The great thing about social and comms platforms is that you don’t have to be perfect. Being human is usually more than enough to get the job done. However, there is absolutely no substitute for putting in the work necessary to maintain relationships. If that sounds familiar, it should. It’s the same advice I’d give if you were looking to build relationships in any medium, digital or otherwise.
If you see social as a magical fix, where just showing up and making a minimal effort will lead to desired results, you’re going to be disappointed. Look at it as a real, imperfect reflection of the world around you, where valuable friendships and business relationships can be built by people willing to try, and suddenly the benefits of maintaining friendships on social start to make a lot more sense.
Is It Possible to Have Too Many Friends on Social Platforms?
There will always be people who want to “keep score” by racking up the most social connections possible and who take the view that quality doesn’t matter as long as quantity keeps rising. In that case, I’d argue that you really can have too many friends on social, but I’d also suggest that one friend is too many if you flat-out don’t care about the actual community of the platform you’re using.
What about the rest of us who enjoy getting to know people, finding commonalities and building real, meaningful relationships, even if we’ve never met the connection personally? As long as you’re willing to put in the effort on your end, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with maintaining a large list of social connections. It takes effort that you may not feel like making every single day, but it’s also rewarding, valuable and a great way to open doors. The trick is being willing to make the effort, whether you’re looking forward to it that day or not.
Find Meaning in Small Moments
I find that I almost always look forward to digital communication because I see these platforms as places of opportunity. Not the opportunity to pitch people or crank out advertising content, but instead to meet new people, get to know them, and build real relationships. It’s the small touches that mean a lot to me, and it’s exciting to strike up a chat with someone new, see my connections discussing my content, or just to receive a message from an old friend. What’s nice about social and comms platforms is that you can tailor your time investment to your particular wants and needs. As with any form of building relationships, you get out of it what you’re willing to put into it.
Relationships are like muscle tissue… the more they are engaged, the stronger and more valuable they become.