Facebook turns 10 tomorrow and reaches that milestone as the dominant social networking platform, used by 57% of all adults and 73% of all those ages 12-17. Adult Facebook use is intensifying: 64% of Facebook users visit the site on a daily basis, up from 51% of users who were daily users in 2010. Among teens, the total number of users remains high, according to Pew Research Center surveys, and they are not abandoning the site. But focus group interviews suggest that teens’ relationship with Facebook is complicated and may be evolving.
New Pew Research Center survey findings show how people are using Facebook and what they like and dislike about the site.
1 Some users dislike certain aspects of Facebook, but fear of missing out on social activities (or “FOMO”) isn’t one of them.
Their dislikes start with oversharing by friends and people posting one’s personal information (such as photos) without first asking permission are among the most common. Parents are especially protective of images of their children, as 57% of Facebook users with children under the age of 18 say that people posting pictures of their children without asking permission first is something they strongly dislike about using Facebook.
On the other hand, the “fear of missing out” phenomenon resonates with only a small proportion of the Facebook population. Just 5% of Facebook users strongly dislike the fact that Facebook allows them to see others taking part in social activities that they themselves were not included in—and 84% of users say that this aspect of Facebook life doesn’t bother them at all.
2 Women and men often have varying reasons for why they use Facebook – but everything starts with sharing and laughs.
Users say they especially appreciate photos and videos from friends (47% say that’s a major reason they use the site), the ability to share with many people at once (46% cite that as a major reason), updates from others (39% cite that), and humorous content (39%). Other aspects of Facebook—such as keeping up with news, or receiving support from the people in one’s network—appeal to a more modest audience of users. Men and women sometimes vary in their reasons for using the site.
3 Half of all adult Facebook users have more than 200 friends in their network.
Facebook users differ greatly when it comes to the number of friends in their networks:
- 39% of adult Facebook users have between 1 and 100 Facebook friends
- 23% have 101-250 friends
- 20% have 251-500 friends
- 15% have more than 500 friends
Among adult Facebook users, the average (mean) number of friends is 338, and the median (midpoint) number of friends is 200. In other words, half of all Facebook users have more than 200 friends, and half have less than 200.
Younger users tend to have significantly larger friend networks than older users: 27% of 18-29 year old Facebook users have more than 500 friends in their network, while 72% of users age 65+ have 100 friends or fewer.
4 12% of Facebook users say that someone has asked them to “unfriend” a person in their network.
Younger users are more likely to have experienced this than older users: 19% of 18-29 year old Facebook users have had someone ask them to remove a friend from their network (compared with 10% of 30-49 year olds, 7% of 50-64 year olds, and 5% of those 65 and older).
These “friend removal” requests tend to come primarily from other friends (35%), or from current (23%) or former (12%) spouses or romantic partners. Some 38% of those who received this type of request say that they were asked to remove a friend from their Facebook network, while 22% were asked to unfriend a former romantic partner.
5 Facebook users “like” their friends’ content and comment on photos relatively frequently, but most don’t change their own status that often.
When asked about the frequency with which they engage in certain behaviors on the site, Facebook users tend to point towards “liking” content that others have posted and commenting on photos as the activities they engage in most often. On the other hand, most users change or update their own status only occasionally:
- 44% of Facebook users “like” content posted by their friends at least once a day, with 29% doing so several times per day.
- 31% comment on other people’s photos on a daily basis, with 15% doing so several times per day.
- 19% send private Facebook messages to their friends on a daily basis, with 10% sending these messages multiple times per day.
- 10% change or update their own status on Facebook on a daily basis, with 4% updating their status several times per day. Some 25% of Facebook users say that they never change or update their own Facebook status.
6 Half of internet users who do not use Facebook themselves live with someone who does.
Many non-Facebook users still have some familiarity with the site through family members. Among internet users who do not use Facebook themselves, 52% say that someone else in their household has a Facebook account. In many instances, these may be parents who do not use Facebook but live with a child who does. Fully 66% of parents with a child living at home who do not use Facebook themselves say that someone in their household has a Facebook account.
In addition, some 24% of Facebook non-adopters who live with an account holder say that they look at photos or posts on that person’s account.
[Source: Pew Research Center]
Last week Princeton researchers released a widely covered study saying Facebook would lose 80% of its users by 2015-2017. But now Facebook’s data scientists have turned the study’s silly “correlation equals causation” methodology of tracking Google search volume against it to show Princeton would lose all of its students by 2021.
A Facebook spokesperson says “the report that Princeton put out is utter nonsense.” Indeed, it’s flawed throughout.
First, it makes a strained epidemiological analogy comparing Facebook to a “disease” that users eventually “recover” from. Facebook may be a massive drain on our attention that some people get sick of, but that doesn’t mean it actually operates like a virus. The researchers then use Myspace as an example of how users recover from a social network and abandon it as if it happened naturally. They make no mention of how Myspace was in fact killed by Facebook.
But the critical error in the non-peer-reviewed study is stating that since the volume of searches for “Facebook” began declining in 2012, it must mean there’s an ongoing decline in Facebook usage.
Yeah, no. Back in Facebook’s web heyday around 2007, many people did surf to the social network by searching for “Facebook” or “Facebook login.” But then this thing called mobile came along and people started getting to Facebook by opening an app, not searching for a website. So searches for “Facebook” declining doesn’t prove much considering over half of Facebook’s traffic now comes from mobile. Since 2012 Facebook has kept growing to its current 1.19 billion users, and it has never had an overall decline in user count.
This isn’t to say Facebook doesn’t have some big, big problems on the horizon. It’s certainlynot “cool” anymore, whether or not it cares. It’s admitted a slight drop in usage amongst young teens in the U.S. It’s seeing increasing competition from mobile-first social apps likeSnapchat and WhatsApp. It will eventually need to weather the medium shift to wearables. Many of its early superstars have left. Hackers are shaking faith in sharing private information. And mobile phones, where you own your social graph in the form of your friends’ phone numbers, make it easier for people to switch to another social network.
Any combination of these could prevent Facebook from growing and cause it to eventually shrink. It’s quite likely that smartphone-carrying Westerners may divide their attention among more apps not owned by Facebook over the next few years. But completely losing 952 million monthly users by 2017 would require cataclysmic disaster.
And even if that happens, it’s as likely to be because fewer people search for “Facebook” or that it resembles a “disease” as the Earth running out of air by 2060 — which is exactly what Facebook’s tongue-in-cheek data scientists prove will happen using Princeton’s methodology. As one of our readers tweeted, “maybe Princeton should worry less about who’s googling Facebook and more about who’s googling Coursera“
Read the full Note below (published with permission) from Facebook’s Mike Develin, Lada Adamic, and Sean Taylor. It’s chock full of lols.
Like many of you, we were intrigued by a recent article by Princeton researchers predicting the imminent demise of Facebook. Of particular interest was the innovative use of Google search data to predict engagement trends, instead of studying the actual engagement trends. Using the same robust methodology featured in the paper, we attempted to find out more about this “Princeton University” – and you won’t believe what we found!
In keeping with the scientific principle “correlation equals causation,” our research unequivocally demonstrated that Princeton may be in danger of disappearing entirely. Looking at page likes on Facebook, we find the following alarming trend:
Now, Facebook isn’t the only repository of human knowledge out there. A search of Google Scholar revealing a plethora of scholarly articles of great scholarliness turned up the following results, showing the percentage of articles matching the query “Princeton” by year:
The trend is similarly alarming: since 2009, the percentage of “Princeton” papers in journals has dropped dramatically.
Of course, Princeton University is primarily an institution of higher learning – so as long as it has students, it’ll be fine. Unfortunately, in investigating this, we found a strong correlation between the undergraduate enrollment of an institution and its Google Trends index:
Sadly, this spells bad news for this Princeton entity, whose Google Trends search scores have been declining for the last several years:
This trend suggests that Princeton will have only half its current enrollment by 2018, and by 2021 it will have no students at all, agreeing with the previous graph of scholarly scholarliness. Based on our robust scientific analysis, future generations will only be able to imagine this now-rubble institution that once walked this earth.
While we are concerned for Princeton University, we are even more concerned about the fate of the planet — Google Trends for “air” have also been declining steadily, and our projections show that by the year 2060 there will be no air left:
As previous researchers [J. Sparks, 2008] have expressed in the past, this will have grievous consequences for the fate of all humanity, not just our academic colleagues in New Jersey.
P.S. We don’t really think Princeton or the world’s air supply is going anywhere soon. We love Princeton (and air). As data scientists, we wanted to give a fun reminder that not all research is created equal – and some methods of analysis lead to pretty crazy conclusions.
When Facebook made an API available that enabled us to analyze when Facebook Fans were online, EdgeRankChecker quickly implemented a new feature called Audience Online (click on the link to see all the feature of the incredible PRO version).
The Audience Online heat map provides a quick, visual way to see when your fans are logging into Facebook. This information can be used to publish posts or identify behavioral trends over time.
The animated Audience Online heat map allows you to see how your traffic patterns change week to week. This allows you to understand how your audience’s behavior may be changing to spot a trend before it becomes the norm.
We’re excited to provide additional value to our free users. If you have any questions on how to use this new feature (which is now live and available in your Page Overview for Free Accounts) Tweet us or leave a comment below.
How To Use
The graph is colored from Red to Green. The green areas represent the times that fans were online above their average rate. The red areas represent times that your fans were online below their average rate. Typically, we see more people online (green) during traditional daylight hours. The change between green to red tends to be more severe when a Page has a very local audience.
The dots displayed on the heat map represent when your Page posted. You can hover over the dot to see more details regarding the post. The size of the dot also indicates how much engagement the post received—dots that are larger had more engagement than the smaller dots.
We recommend looking at your heat map for particular periods of time, as well as looking at how they’re changing. Keep your eye on how the green and red areas are shifting over time.
[Source: EdgeRank Checker]
Competition — namely Google+ — is growing in the social login space, but Facebook is still the social login leader in Q4, according to a study released recently by Janrain. While Facebook is still the No. 1 choice for users connecting with sites overall, the social network is downwardly trending with music apps and B2B sites.
However, Facebook is seeing increasing social logins through retail sites and media sites. Overall, 45 percent of social logins throughout the Web in Q4 happened via Facebook, but Google+ isn’t far behind at 35 percent.
Facebook did a little better in Q4, Janrain notices. The social network actually gained 0.2 percent of the market share of social logins from Q3 to Q4, but Google+ is still a hot riser, as partnerships with popular sites such as SoundCloud are doing for Google+ what Spotify did for Facebook.
Janrain Product Marketing Manager Michael Olson spoke with Inside Facebook about Facebook’s social login performance in Q4:
They had experienced a few consecutive quarters of moderately declining share in terms of preference for consumers, and really reversed that trend in Q4. We saw them maintain their 45 percent share on aggregate across all different types of websites. Clearly, they’re still the most popular choice for consumers at 45 percent. They’ve got about a 10 percent lead on Google, which is the second-most popular choice. Overall, I think it was a positive story for Facebook.
Facebook did see quarterly increases in a few key verticals, namely retail. That’s major for Facebook as it shows that more consumers were willing to connect to retail sites via Facebook during the holiday shopping season. More people also connected through Facebook to media sites, entertainment and gaming sites, as well as consumer brand sites in Q4.
One area where Facebook is trending downward is music sites. Olson told Inside Facebook that there’s just more competition out there. Previously, Facebook was the overwhelming social login choice through sites and apps such as Spotify, Pandora and Songza. Now, Google+ is making up some ground and eating away at Facebook’s market share, namely with SoundCloud, which has integrated better sharing and login techniques with Google’s network, Olson said:
Facebook has traditionally dominated on music sites. That’s been their highest-performing segment, or one of them. I think that the decrease during Q4 is really just a function of increased competition. Google+ recently completed a sharing integration with SoundCloud, which is similar to Facebook’s integrations with Spotify and Pandora. What that’s done is it’s made consumers associate listening to music online more with sharing via the Google+ platform. That’s the correlation with the increased preference for Google. Google, to their credit, has done a great job consolidating all of their services, with GMail, Google Plus, YouTube and Google Play all under a single Google account. … YouTube happens to be a very popular service for music discovery and listening to live concerts or recorded concerts. That means consumers are more likely to associate music discovery and those types of websites with the Google identity.
The full report, with all charts and analysis from Olson, is available here.
Readers: Are you seeing yourself login to sites and apps via Google+ more often?