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The 4-10-150 Rule

Residents July 12, 2011
I recently learned about this intriguing thing called the 4-10-150 rule as I was considering how social marketing impacts apartment living and renting. I know at least a little bit about social marketing, so I was surprised that I hadn’t heard of this phenomenon. I also know a thing or two about rules (and breaking them), so again, I was surprised I hadn’t heard of this one. Or broken it yet. Anyway, it goes like this: at the most basic level, there are four people that you talk to everyday who have a tremendous impact on you. You consult them about everything – from whether or not you should buy a shirt to whether or not you should buy a house, get engaged, quit your job, or make any other major life decision. You might not even pick out navel lint without talking to them first. These four folks are, essentially, your inner circle. In fact, if we’re thinking about this deal as a sort of planets-orbiting-the-sun kind of thing (with you, naturally, as the sun), then your first four people are where Mercury would be. Gets a little hot there – sometimes they get a little scorched (especially if you are me). But they are intrinsic to how your life unfolds because they’re the ones closest to you. So, you’ve got four Mercuries (Mercurys?). Next, you’ve got ten people that comprise your second circle of friends/relatives/ maniacs. These are people you talk to a lot – but probably not every day – and they also have a tremendous amount of influence over you – though not to as great a degree as your Mercuries (Mercurys). For example, you might go ahead and pick navel lint without consulting them, but you might talk about how it went with them later. I’m guessing that for most people, these ten are comprised of friends and relatives who are also friends (yes, this does exist). So, if you’re the sun and you’ve got four Mercuries (Mercurys), then these next ten people are circling you at your Venus orbit. They are your Venuses (Veni?). The Venus orbit is still pretty hot – nothing lives there because it’s like nine-hundred-thousand-bazillion degrees under the clouds, but things are not as bad as they are in the Mercury orbit. I’d venture to say that the Venus level can be a slightly more poisonous environment, but not as hot. That is to say, you’re not in the hot seat as often. The remaining 150 make up your third circle – meaning they’re orbiting you at your Earth level. These 150 Earthlings are people you know, whose advice and ideas you’ll at least listen to, if not fully consider. Earthlings are friends of a more casual quality – some friendly acquaintances, maybe coworkers, and others of a less-than-intimate-but-not-unfamiliar status. This is a wide category – you’ve got Earthlings of all kinds orbiting you and it’s far too much to expect that you’d listen to all of them, so you only value their input to a certain degree. They don’t need to know or hear about any lint-picking activities. And the rest? Your Marsies, Jupiterites, Saturnlings, Urani, Neptunites, and Plutolings are all out there too, but they don’t really matter to you. You don’t even bother to read their facebook updates. In fact, you probably block the Urani and Neptunites from your news feed and consider unfriending the Plutolings altogether. So, I applied this curious 4-10-150 idea to my life and found that it mostly fits. I always feel like I have more people than allotted at each level (especially my Venus and my Earth orbits), but I think I’m just kidding myself. On the whole, this rule seems to be true. Basically, the people who made up this 4-10-150 thing are telling us that we just don’t have that many friends. And that, as I understand it, is the rule of thumb for social marketing.