For example, results from a recent study conducted by the Pew Internet and American Life Project showed that on Facebook, most people adopt a rather passive approach, apparently finding it better to receive than to give. More than 250 Facebook users participated in the study, which for the first time combined server logs of Facebook activity with survey data to explore the structure of Facebook friendship networks and measures of social well-being.
Here are a few significant findings:
- Those in the study averaged 245 Facebook friends each, but their friends averaged 359 friends. In fact, only one in 10 had larger friend lists than their friends.
- While four of 10 Facebook users sent a friend request during a one month period, six in ten received at least one friend request during the same time span. The typical Facebook user initiates three friend requests monthly and accepts four.
- People tend to have their Facebook posts “liked” more than they click “like” on someone else’s posts (20 times versus 14).
- Three times as many people had their photos tagged by a friend on Facebook than those who took a moment to tag another person’s photo (35 percent to 12 percent).
- Users in this study sent an average of nine personal messages via the social media site while receiving 12 in return. It seems Facebook hasn’t replaced email yet for private messaging however, as nearly half of those in the survey did not send even one private message via the social media site.
It’s not that people don’t trust sharing and interacting on Facebook, though. The vast majority (95 percent) of respondents don’t hide their Facebook feed content from other users, and collectively they accepted 80 percent of all friend requests received. And as shown in earlier studies, women tend to post almost twice as frequently as men, with women averaging 11 posts per month compared with six by men.
Passive or not, the reach of Facebook users remains impressive.
The study found that Facebook users can reach a mean number (average) of more than 150,000 other Facebook users through Facebook friends of friends –and that means a typical or median user in this study can reach 31,170 people through friends-of-friends. At two degrees of separation (friends-of-friends), Facebook users in the study on average reach 156,569 other Facebook users. However, a small number of Facebook users, who tend to have especially large friends lists that are less connected exaggerate the reach of the typical Facebook user.
As Professor Keith Hampton, chief author of this report points out, most Facebook content is provided by a relatively small percentage of what he calls “power users.” And yet, knowing that the average Facebook user continues to expand her network each month, and that women share more actively than men, can be valuable information for marketing pros who want to use social media to engage with consumers and amplify brand messages.