What does it mean when no one adds you back on a social network?

Can you ever have too many friends?

Is there an upside to not having many friends or followers in your social network? Maybe. Researchers at the University of Georgia conducted an interesting study about Facebook users. They had volunteers who regularly used Facebook fill out a questionnaire that allowed researchers to accurately determine the personality of each person. The researchers were able to identify Facebook users with trait narcissism, a personality trait that means the person has an inflated sense of his or her own intelligence, attractiveness and power.

What was so interesting about this research? A group of strangers who didn't know the focus of the study were also able to identify who among the group had trait narcissism. While they weren't 100 percent accurate, the untrained strangers were reasonably competent at determining who among the Facebook users had this personality trait.

How did they do this? Without even realizing it, the strangers zeroed in on three key facts about the Facebook users. They picked out people who had many social contacts, had self-promoting updates on their site and who used professional style photographs as their profile pictures as being more narcissistic than average.

So what's the problem with being viewed as a narcissist online? Others may assume that you're using them as a stepping stone for advancing your own agenda and not feel that you're interested in maintaining meaningful relationships. They may not even consciously realize they're reacting this way to you.

You can prevent people from viewing you this way by doing a few things: Choose a low key profile picture. A snapshot of you with others is a good choice. Keep a manageable number of friends. And finally, reply back and maintain conversations with friends. These simple steps can help to shape how others feel about you when they view your social networking page.

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  • Baig, Edward C. "How to Make the Most of Social Networking on Facebook." USA Today. Feb. 19, 2009. (May 25, 2009).http://www.usatoday.com/tech/columnist/edwardbaig/2009-02-18-facebook-how-to_N.htm
  • Claborn, Thomas. "Facebook Users with Lots of Friends More Likely to be Narcissists." Information Week. Sept. 23, 2008. (May 26, 2009).http://www.informationweek.com/news/internet/social_network/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=210603417
  • Evans, Meryl. "Why People Don't Follow Me Back on Twitter." Web Worker Daily. May 20, 2009. (May 26, 2009)http://webworkerdaily.com/2009/05/20/why-people-dont-follow-back-in-twitter/
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