The average Facebook user gets more from their friends on Facebook than they give to their friends. Why? Because of a segment of “power users,” who specialize in different Facebook activities and contribute much more than the typical user does.
The typical Facebook user in our sample was moderately active over our month of observation, in their tendency to send friend requests, add content, and “like” the content of their friends. However, a proportion of Facebook participants – ranging between 20% and 30% of users depending on the type of activity – were power users who performed these same activities at a much higher rate; daily or more than weekly. As a result of these power users, the average Facebook user receives friend requests, receives personal messages, is tagged in photos, and receives feedback in terms of “likes” at a higher frequency than they contribute. What’s more, power users tend to specialize. Some 43% of those in our sample were power users in at least one Facebook activity: sending friend requests, pressing the like button, sending private messages, or tagging friends in photos. Only 5% of Facebook users were power users on all of these activities, 9% on three, and 11% on two. Because of these power users, and their tendency to specialize on specific Facebook activities, there is a consistent pattern in our sample where Facebook users across activities tend to receive more from friends than they give to others.
Women make more status updates than men
- On average, Facebook users in our sample get more friend requests than they make: 63% received at least one friend request during the period we studied, but only 40% made a friend request.
- It is more common to be “liked” than to like others. The postings, uploads, and updates of Facebook users are liked – through the use of the “like” button – more often than these users like the contributions of others. Users in the sample pressed the like button next to friends’ content an average of 14 times per month and received feedback from friends in the form of a “like” 20 times per month.
- On average, users receive more messages than they send. In the month of our analysis, users received an average of nearly 12 private messages, and sent nine.
- People comment more often than they update their status. Users in our sample made an average of nine status updates or wall posts per month and contributed 21 comments.
- People are tagged more in photos than they tag others. Some 35% of those in our sample were tagged in a photo, compared with just 12% who tagged a friend in a photo.
Women are more intense contributors of content on Facebook than are men. In our sample, the average female user made 21 updates to their Facebook status in the month of observation, while the average male made six.
Facebook users average seven new friends a month
While most users did not initiate a friend request during the month we looked at their activities, and most received only one, an active 19% of users initiated friendship requests at least once per week. Because of the prolific friending activity of this top 19%, the average (mean) number of friend requests accepted was three and the average number accepted from others was four. Overall, some 80% of friend requests that were initiated were reciprocated.
Few unsubscribe from friends’ feeds
Facebook users have the ability to unsubscribe from seeing the content contributed by some friends on their newsfeed. Less than 5% of users in our sample hid another user’s content from their feed in the month of our observation.
There is little evidence of Facebook fatigue
We found no evidence among our sample that length of time using Facebook is associated with a decline in Facebook activity. 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.