Did we lose 30% of our Facebook friends last year?

I’m a sucker for data and Excel sheets.

I just love to spend the night browsing through Facebook Insights export data.
As you probably know, you can easily export data on both your posts and pages from Facebook insights (more here). Although even these exports only scratch the surface of what Facebook (and Apple and Google for that matter) have on data, it is a rather rich source for Excel- and data fetisjists like me.

As I’m working for a range of clients I can analyse large datasets of approximately 20 million fans. This time, I was digging for data/patterns on the ripple effect of conversations when I stumbled upon something interesting.

Did we lose 30% of our friends last year?

On December 1st of 2011, the average person liking the pages I researched had 231 friends. That seems to be somewhat consistent with research from Pew Internet and some other sources.

Exactly one year later, on December 1st of 2012, the average person liking these pages had 158 friends. That is a decrease of 32%. Are we getting less social?
In any case, it is something to take into consideration. It could mean consumers are getting way more strict in their definition of online friendships. It could mean that ‘viral’ campaigns might not be as ‘viral’ as they used to be. It could mean it will be even more difficult to explain your manager why on earth you’re spending so much money on Facebook.

Please note: although approximately 20 million brand page fans should give a reasonable idea of what’s happening, the group might always be skewed towards specific geographical areas or interests (they are still brand page fans of specific brands). I would love to hear if you’re seeing similar patterns.

Want to calculate what’s happened with your fans? Export your Facebook page insights and open the file in Microsoft Excel. Find Friends of fans (tab 1, column ‘K’) and devide them by Total number of likes (tab 1, column ‘H’). Drop me a note via twitter or email if you have some interesting results.

  1. Hi Polle,

    Isn’t this, at least partially, to be attributed to the smaller amount of followers the facebook “laggards” have? Those who liked your pages this last year, are not the same as those that liked it a year ago.

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