The following tweet caught my eye the other day.
Bob (Robert) Watson – @TopBrokerOC
Here at #ICSF @imranpoladi says his friends on #Facebook follow the “1-9-90%” trend… 1% comment, 9% Like, 90% are just listening.
I wish I could support this. But I can’t. My response was quick, “I like the symmetry of @imranpoladi 1-9-90% trend, but 90% of friends aren’t really listening on FB.” And based on the number of friends most social media for business proponents have (Imran has 2481), my guess is the right number is somewhere closer to 10% even have a chance to be listening.
Some of it has to do with Dunbar’s Number and the amount of work required for everyone to be listening effectively past that 150 friend threshold. It requires a level of discipline most don’t possess. Most of the reason why I believe the percentage is drastically smaller has to do with how we are lead to behave on Facebook.
Facebook’s Edge Rank forces content into our “top news” feed in ways that greatly throttles back who we’ll see at any given time. In fact, it insures that most of us aren’t listening to 90% of what our “friends” say either. And this may be a good thing. I’m not sure we could handle it any other way.
What’s the harm in claiming 90% are listening?
The assertion that 90% are listening on Facebook overvalues the tool and misrepresents the opportunity. I may be making a mountain out of a molehill of a stat, but when the uneducated and uninformed hear that 1% are commenting, 9% like and 90% are listening, it paints an image that those in the 90% are seeing their messages. Unless they’re actively engaged, they’re not. In fact, unless someone actively seeks you out, the only people seeing your messages are the 1% who comment and the 9% who like… if those numbers are even accurate.
I don’t know Imran Poladi, but I’m relatively certain it wasn’t his intention to mislead or misrepresent in any way. I also wasn’t in attendance when this comment was made, I only got the 140 character sound bite, so I don’t know the context of his numbers. I do know this, however… it’s time to start being as accurate as possible with the data we throw out about social media. It’s time to start being more explicit with our words. Because even well intentioned messages can contribute to the hype.