Analyzing Facebook Connections

Posted by michael | July 16, 2011

Sometimes I have a horrible time sleeping and find myself awake at odd hours of the night.  Last night happened to be one of them, so I decided rather than try to fall back asleep that I would get up and do a little work.  When I opened up email, I had a Facebook friend request from someone that I really had no idea who they were.

I’m not the type to use Facebook for anything particularly personal, so I generally accept all friend invitations; assuming that the person is a friend of someone I am a friend of.  I’m now up to 328 friends.  It being 3:30 in the morning and my attention span limited, I thought it would be an interesting exercise to graph out the nature of my Facebook relationships.  In doing so, I categorized my “friends” in the following categories:

  • Family – this includes people like my wife and siblings as well as my wife’s cousins and my sister-in-law.  I have 7 family members on Facebook.
  • Foxhole – these are people that I consider more than friends – they are like brothers and are the people I know I could call in a moment of crisis and they would be there. 4 of my foxhole guys are on Facebook.
  • Current Friends – these are people that I currently socialize with; they might be the spouse of a friend, my wife’s friends or even my friends.  But, generally these are people that we might invite over or that we are going to see if we go somewhere. 17 of my connections are current friends.
  • Old Friends – these are people that once upon a time I was close to but for whatever reason I don’t get to see or talk to as much anymore.  These are the type of friend that if you ran into them, the friendship would pick up like you never missed a beat.  I have 43 of these on Facebook.
  • Business Associates – these are people that I do business with, either via networking or who I happened to meet because of business. I have 31 Facebook friends that are business related.
  • Old Flames – yup, that means exactly what it means.  These are old girlfriends and related romantic pursuits, serious or otherwise that I have connected with on Facebook.  I was rather surprised to find that I had 12 of these connections.
  • Shared Circle – these are people that I probably hung around with at one time or another.  Maybe it was a fraternity brother or some guys/girls who used to run in the same group in high school.  These are generally shallow relationships but you could probably get through a 5 or 10-minute conversation before it went stale.  I counted 113 of these relationships on Facebook.
  • Acquaintances – these are people that in high school or college that I probably said hello to in the hallway or had a brief conversation at a party with. These are the friend of a friend that you knew but there is no relationship or commonality to speak of. I am connected to 70 of these people on Facebook.
  • Name Rings a Bell – these are people who I am not exactly sure who they are, but the name sounds familiar or the picture looks like somebody I seem to recall.  I’ve got 12 of these people on my connections.
  • And You Are – extremely self explanatory; I have no idea who these people are, but apparently some of my friends do.  I’ve got 19 of these connections.

I think within the data what I was most surprised by was the number of business relationships on Facebook.  Connecting with people I do business with is not something that I have actively sought out, as I do that with LinkedIn. However, it appears that others are beginning to see the utility of combining business with personal and blending the lines of the two.

I also looked at the connections in the context of the new social network, Path that limits you to 50 connections and I after analyzing my names I think I could get down to that pretty quickly.  I’m not sure if Path is going to be successful because I think there is a fascination with being connected with your past, but if I was truly interested in deep sharing, I’m inclined to think I might check out Path.

Some other quick notes about my connections:

  • I am connected to 9 Amy’s, although one spells her name a little different than the others
  • I am connected to 4 Jamie’s and 3 of them are guys
  • Fourteen of my connections share my name; Michael is by far the most popular name of my connections.
  • Only 5 people don’t have a profile image; everyone else has some type of picture.
  • Of those pictures, 47% of them have another person in the picture; either a kid, a family or them with a kid/family member or friend.
  • 10 people use cartoon characters as their image; in most cases its an improvement over their regular picture!
  • The most connections that any one friend has is 1,164 and the 2nd most is 965. The lease amount of connections is 14.
  • 56 friends like the Boston Red Sox, by far the most popular like out of my friends likes.  19 happen to like Victorias Secret while 13 like Coors Light; not sure what those 13 are thinking.
  • I’ve personally liked 82 different things; I don’t remember liking most of them, but it says that I do so I must like them.

What it all means, I have no idea, but when you can’t sleep its amazing what you will do to keep yourself busy!  Maybe next time I’ll tackle my LinkedIn profile but don’t hold your breath on learning about my twitter account.  I have no idea who any of those people are!