Facebook Users: What Do They Mean For Your Marketing

Going My Way? 5 Actionable Facebook Tips

Facebook Going My WayFacebook just turned 10.

Ironically, if Facebook were a real person, it couldn’t join its own social network for another 3 years. (Mind you–this doesn’t stop under 13s from using the service.)

What does 10 years of Facebook users mean for marketers?

To answer this question, let’s examine recent research by the Pew Internet Center. They surveyed 1,801 adults aged 18+ from August 7 to September 16, 2013.

5 Actionable Facebook TipsFacebook users: the top line numbers

In 10 years Facebook has gone for college network to US cultural reality. For marketers, the predominance of Facebook across US Internet users and their social circles means you must include it in your marketing mix. (Here’s Facebook’s own data analyzed.)

  • 71% of those surveyed had ever used Facebook.
  • Facebook has an impact on non-participants. Roughly a quarter of non-Facebook adopters that live with Facebook user view photos and/or posts on that person’s account.
  • 25% of Facebook users never change or update their own status.

1. Less than 200 friends is the loneliest number on Facebook

The median in number of Facebook friends is 200 and the average number of Facebook friends is 338.  39% of adult Facebook users have 1-100 Facebook friends.

  • 23% adult Facebook users have 101-250 Facebook friends.
  • 20% adult Facebook users have 251-500 Facebook friends.
  • 15% adult Facebook users have over 500 Facebook friends.

Facebook Friends Chart

The difference in network size by age appears related to the age of the user’s initial exposure to Facebook.

  • 27% of Facebook users age 18-29 have 500+ friends in their network.
  • 72% of Facebook users age 65+ have 100 friends or less.

Actionable Facebook Tip: Your target audience is more connected technologically yielding wider reach. Don’t make any assumptions about the depth and influence of Facebook relationships. By contrast, Dunbar’s number, the cognitive limit of relating to other people, is 150 relationships.

2. But Facebook isn’t always friendly

12% of Facebook users have been asked to unfriend someone in their network. These requests come from:

  • 35% from other friends
  • 23% from current spouses or romantic partners
  • 12% from spouses or romantic partners

Actionable Facebook Marketing Tip: For 1 out of 8 Facebook participants, social network relationships aren’t forever. Close friends and family still wield influence on your target market, even on Facebook.

3. As a social network, Facebook plays better to women’s social instincts.

Directionally, women and men tend to use Facebook for the same reasons. Women tend to be more social than their male counterparts.

  • 47% of users cite seeing friends’ photos and videos as a major reason to use Facebook.
  • 46% of users cite being able to share with many people at the same time as a major reason to use Facebook.

Facebook Research Chart

Actionable Facebook Tip: Since Facebook participants are interested in keeping up with friends and colleagues, understand that your content and advertising is a distant second on Facebook. Therefore it’s crucial that your marketing  is non-promotional and relevant when interspersed into these exchanges.

4. Facebook users interact with friends via likes and comments

As a social network, Facebook facilitates low level interactions such as likes and comments. While these activities are good for Facebook, depending on your business, they may not translate to revenue generating actions.

  • 44% of Facebook users “like” content posted by friends at least once per day and 29% like content posted by friends multiple times per day.
  • 31% of Facebook users comment on other people’s photos daily and 15% comment on other people’s photos multiple times per day.
  • 19% of Facebook users send private messages to friends daily and 10% send multiple private messages daily.
  • 10% of Facebook users change or update their own status daily, 4% change or update their own status multiple times per day, and 25% never change or update their own status.

Actionable Facebook Tip: For Facebook participants, interactions and engagement must not require much work! Reduce the number of steps between a Facebook post or ad and the action you want your target market to take.

5. Facebook encourages over sharing. (Maybe our sharing should be over!)

Members, like your mother, don’t need to know every detail of your life.

  • 36% of Facebook users feel other users share too much personal information. This is important for marketers to realize. You don’t want to overstep your customers’ boundaries.
  • 36% of Facebook users dislike that others post images and comments about them without permission. This is considered particularly bad by almost 60% of parents when the photos include children until 18.
  • 5% of Facebook users feel that they experience FOMO (fear of missing out).  This makes sense. Last Thankgiving, FOMO was due to beautiful Instagram photos that made viewers feel that their lives were somehow diminished.

Facebook User Preferences -Research Chart

Actionable Facebook Tip: Beware of over sharing. To maximize your reach, be there when your audience is. If you use images or content created by your fans or customers, get their permission before posting it on Facebook. It’s just good manners.

As Facebook continues to expand, understand that it should be a part of your marketing mix. Given Facebook’s need to show results for financial markets, not users or marketers, expect to pony up more resources for lower levels of response. Further, make sure that you’ve built your presence on your own turf.

What do you think marketers should take away from 10 years of Facebook’s evolution?

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen

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