7 is the social media number

My earlier post on the theme of numbers (http://blog.paulgailey.com/el-espanol-peor-pagado-de-la-historia) produced a healthy but mixed reaction when it transpired that I had miscalculated some estimates confusing my billions and trillions. I had made an error using differing numbering conventions that each side of the Atlantic prefers.

This time I'll stick with single digits.

So, after a splendid reconnection today with an old friend, I continued to read his blog post about why 3 is a magic number, and I couldn´t help but happily disagree as a subconscious itch took hold. I´ve ruminated similar recently about numbers, and noted that seven is not only in vogue and actually really effective on many fronts, but have been inspired to conclude that 7 is the social media number.

It´s not just because of Windows 7 or that it´s one more than De Bono´s collection of hats which I passionately advocate. And I don´t necessarily think it´s related to Pythagoras, the planets, the sins, the seas or even Blake. (Note to non Brits: It´s a dated UK sci-fi TV series)

Oddly enough in Chinese, 7 denotes "togetherness" - a lucky number for relationships - if ever there were a more suitable number and more appropriate definition for ´social´ media these days. And as Wikipedia points out, 7 is a number that just works in Western and Chinese cultures which is rare indeed. Google take note.

But why is 7 the social media number?

Well, the eminent marketing publisher, Brian Clark of @copyblogger fame, overrates 10 as the default list number when publishing a top XYZ list type blog post, perhaps as too contrived, derides 5 as parsimonious and 3, let's face it, is hardly more than a bloated tweet, which is not a list by most standards.

And don't get me started on 99 reasons... why type lists. That's just silly, not right for the attention deficit decade, displays a lack of editing skills at best, and besides I said I would stick with a single digit.

Upon closer inspection of Brian's sidebar highlighting his fine CopyBlogger posts, I note that 7 is the dominant number that features in the popular articles list. His posts are frequently of the 'list' style. They are avidly consumed and endorsed by many a blogger creature, and are packed with 7 this and 7 that all over the place and only the occasional cursory nod to 5 or 10 or even a first.

And as if 100,645 RSS subscribers and some 46,720 followers is not enough validation (didn´t I say single digit?), I  remain somewhat taken aback by the overwhelming prominence of 7 for this search:


Of course numbers are not always as beloved as much as words even in social media, or indeed any media. Ask Dave Gorman. Everyone pulls out the stops to beautify their URLs from digits to words, understandbly for SEO reasons and to try to make sense of matters. Let's face it the DNS system that is the internet is the biggest culprit.

I notice Mashable recently published a stellar article about social media in the enterprise and despite the author seemingly sharing my penchant for inclusion of the number 7 in the headline, Mashable's publishing setup deletes the number 7 from the URL but retains it in the page title: 7 Things to Consider for Social Media in the Enterprise

So perhaps my fanaticism for 7 is not shared by you or maybe it evokes the similar disdain of CMS administrators like Pete Cashmore's crew and other Celts.

I do see plenty of other numbers out there every day and you have a choice of another 9 single digits to argue with.

So tell me why you think otherwise but I'm convinced 7 is the social media number.

Let's dispute. Nicely.