Facebook Study: A Few Thoughts for Conference Organizers

keyboardPew Research Center released an interesting report: Why most Facebook users get more than they give.

If thoughts of poring over a 40-page report don't delight you, here are a few highlights that made me think twice about Facebook as a conference event promotion platform:

  • The average Facebook user gets more than they give.
    Studying activity over a one-month period, users are "liked" more than they "like" others, receive more messages than they send, and comment more often on updates from others than post updates themselves. 20-30% were deemed power users, giving more than they receive.
  • Women are more active than men.
    During the sample month, the average female user posted 11 updates, while the average male user posted six. Women are also more likely to comment on status updates of others than men.
  • Your Facebook friends have more friends than you do.
    While the average person in this study had 245 friends, the average friend of a person had 359 Facebook friends. Carrying this "Friends of Friends" reach further, the average user can reach 150,000+ Facebook users. Median reach (middle of the pack) scaled this reach universe back to 31,000+.

While I can only add anecdotal observations, I believe this "get more" thing has legs. I can't tell you how many times I chat with people by phone or meet them in person and they mention something I've posted on Facebook. Often, these are folks who post little or nothing on Facebook. I didn't even think they were listening. And yes, in my universe, this happens more often with women than men.

If you're promoting your event on Facebook and the "likes" and comments aren't coming back as strong as you had hoped, don't despair. There's still something happening out there in the Facebook universe. Many users are reading, thinking, and even having actual conversations (face-to-face) about what you posted. It just might be a little tougher to connect those dots.

As for the "friends of friends" reach factor, I'm noticing (particularly for a few "hot issues" that hit Facebook recently), when one of my friends comments on a post for someone I'm not friends with, it hits my newsfeed.  And if it's about something I'm interested in, I'll scan the comment string. There could be something here for conference promotions, but those "hot button" topics can be a double-edged sword.

So we keep studying, testing, and perfecting. Back to the lab.

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