Monday, April 5, 2010

What Metrics I Would Want from Facebook and the Big Picture Stuff

Facebook publishes a lot of stats. Many I know are very fuzzy and used to promote/hype the site because they want to go IPO before a new site comes a long that everyone migrates too. I take a big picture approach. I look at an Ecosystem and use all relevant data to help clients value various media channels. Because all Media Channels have value, it's just determining the fair value that is important.

As a Brand there are some specifics that I care about which obviously are omitted from any Facebook Stats. Remember they claim 400 Million active users and half of them logging in everyday!

1] Page views vs time spent on site. Time spent is massively inflated (55 mins per user per day?????) because if you leave Facebook up in a browser tab all day but only spend 10 mins on the site they record all day as time spent. But page views show activity.

2] Fan Page Post views vs Fans. I want to know how many posts from Fan Pages show up in the first page/home page upon log in. Each page after the front page that your post shows up gives a significantly diminished likelihood of your post being seen. When I log into Facebook there are always over 300+ updates waiting for me. Due to that volume I never go beyond the front page. So all those posts I don't see are worthless to a Brand.

3] What is an Active user? How many Active users log in only once per week or less? If a user logs in less than once per day the chances of reaching that person by a major brand is almost zero. Facebook claims an Active User to be someone who logs in 1x per month. That is NOT ACTIVE! That is basically zero if you log in 12x per year!

Many stats are so ho-hum that I can not believe the 200 million daily log ins and 55 mins spent per user on the site each day. Monthly numbers below unless noted are based on 400 million active users:
  • Average user clicks the Like button on 4.5 pieces of content each month- once every 6 days? Remember many users do this several times per day. Thus increasing the number that click the Like button al ot less.
  • Average user writes 12.5 comments on Facebook content each month - less than 1 per 2 days? See Above.
  • Average user becomes a fan of 2 Pages each month- Not very viral I guess? Only once every 15 days someone becomes a fan of something.
  • Average user is invited to 1.5 events per month - I guess most social invites are done by email and phone. Since I get about 30 per month mostly for music events many people get less than 1.5.
  • More than 35 million users (out of 200mil log ins) update their status each day - since many active people do this more than once per day this is a small number.
  • More than 60 million comments posted each day- see above.
  • More than 3 billion photos uploaded to the site each month - this means 7.5 photos per user per month. Considering people often create albums with 10, 20, 30, 40 photos this is not an impressive number.
The activity data points to a lower level of activity than is being hyped by Facebook, especially the 55 minutes they claim people spend on the site EVERY DAY. What are you doing if your not posting and interacting? Playing Farmville I guess. But Farmville isn't going to pay the bills or Facebooks $14bil valuation by the VC's.

If I take 35mil + 60mil updates each day which is half the number claim log in everyday, this means half the people are doing nothing but reading on the website. I thought social media = interaction. And for every user who logs in and does more than one action reduces the number being active on the site and increases the number doing nothing.

But the fact is if less than half the people who log in do nothing at all what is the value of the network for marketers?
Especially if you know most of your Fan Page posts will go unseen/unread.

And why would a major company need a Fan Page. Does Nabisco really gain by interacting with 500 people each time they post when they sell to 200 million people in just the US alone? These things do not make sense! Does Nestle need to give Greenpeace public forum to attack the company that has become the largest Food Company in the world using traditional marketing?

So my rant here is meant to put Facebook in proper perspective and to make sure your expectations are in line with reality. You do not have 400 million people to interact with but tens of millions. Still a very nice pool to play in each day. But not what is being touted by Facebook and Social Media Gurus.

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