Why most Facebook users get more than they give: Study

The Pew Research Center has just released a report on the insights gained from a telephonic survey and actual profile information of Facebook users, and a very interesting trend has emerged – ‘power users’, a segment of Facebook users who are very  prolific and contribute much more than the average user in various categories.

The Center’s Internet & American Life Project initially started with a phone survey about the habits of users of social networking sites, and reported the findings in a June 2011 report called “Social networking sites and our lives”. The survey had 877 respondents comprising a representative sample of the nation-wide users, and since the report showed that Facebook was overwhelmingly the most dominant network, they further took permission from 269 of those respondents to access their profile information and computer logs to match the responses from the telephonic survey, during the month of November 2010, when the survey was being conducted.

A typical Facebook user in the sample was moderately active over the month of observation. The activities being assessed were, sending out friend requests, adding content, and ‘like’-ing the content of their friends.

However, certain users performed these activities much more frequently – daily or at least, multiple times in a week. These users comprise 20 to 30% of the total users, and are given the label of power users, and due to them, the average Facebook user receives more friend requests, personal messages, photo tags, and ‘likes’ on his content than he/she sends out.

Power users also tend to specialize; 43% of the users in the sample were power users in at least one type of Facebook activity – sending friend requests, sending private messages, tagging friends in photos, or ‘like’-ing content. Only 5% were power users in all four of these activities, 9% in three, and 11% in two.

  • Friend requests: On an average, the Facebook users in the sample get more friend requests than they send out – 63% received at least one friend request during the month, but only 40% made one.
  • ‘Like’-ing content: Users in the sample pressed the ‘like’ button for their friends’ content an average of 14 times a month, and received a ‘like’ on their content from friends 20 times a month.
  • Photo tags: 35% of users in the sample were tagged in a photo, and just 12% tagged a friend in a photo.
  • Private messages: Users received an average of 12 messages in a month, but sent only 9.
  • Status updates: It is more common to comment on friends’ updates, users in the sample made 9 updates in a month, and received 21 comments.
  • Gender differences: Women contribute more new content – women in the sample made an average of 21 new status updates, while men made only 6.

The complete report can be read here.

It is worth noting that the results of the survey show no evidence of Facebook fatigue, i.e. there is no decline in the frequency of activity if a user has been on Facebook for a long period of time, on the contrary – the more time that has passed since a user started using Facebook, the more frequently he/she makes status updates, uses the ‘like’ button, comments on friends’ content, and tags friends in photos. Similarly, the more Facebook friends someone has, the more frequently they contribute all forms of Facebook content and the more friend requests they tend to send and accept.

Do you think having such power users speaking for your brand helps increase exposure? How do you think you can leverage these power users and harvest the potential of their large networks for your brand?

  • http://twitter.com/anshumanp Anshuman Pandey

    Media has now become the buzz word and is an amazing platform when it comes to
    advertise and establish your brand.And for harnessing its power to the fullest,
    getting share or like by a power user seems inevitable. And as stated in the
    article seeing their behavior online its tough to grab their attention. However
    few ways to do so could be, posting about your brand in pages that has a few
    power users. In case of twitter you can use the tags to make your content
    discoverable which can be shared by the power users if they come across it and
    if you are lucky enough :) . But before doing all one needs
    to carefully identify which type of social media will be best for
    them to advertise their brand. So taking a small example, if i am blogging
    posting my links to Networking sites like Hunch, Stumbleupon and Twitter will
    be better than using Facebook. A great and insightful article though..Cheers :)