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.
Lori Bee says
I pray 90% are NOT always listening. Our society would go to “hell in a hand-basket” as my grandmother would say. I hope my friends know that while I appreciate when they do pay attention to my posts, that first and foremost, that I want them to live productive lives… OFFLINE. They can feel free to ignore me at least 90% of the time if they are doing so. 🙂
Jeff Turner says
I couldn’t argue with that if I wanted to. And I don’t want to. 🙂
Melissa Case says
I don’t know that it’s possible to listen effectively to even a small percentage of the people with whom we are “friends.” I think this is a major facet of the reason that so many people are culling their friends lists. So that they can pay attention to the people with whom they actually interact.
Because EdgeRank’s algorithms “decide” which news is most important, I often find myself searching for people in other ways. First the “most recent” news instead of “Top News,” then by status, then by specific people. There are folks that I know I’m missing, and I don’t want to, but Facebook doesn’t show me what they have to say. So, I’m a bit more judicious these days with the things that I “like.” That way, the stuff that really does matter to me is what shows up.
And I do listen to you. 🙂 Even when you’re all grouchy and stuff.
Stephen Chip says
Perhaps it was “potential” 90%.
The funny thing about edge rank is it will often filter out close friends. Even times when I put some time in on Facebook I’ll think to myself “Hmm, so-and-so hasn’t been active or posted for some time now.” Yet when I hop over to their wall I see they have been posting updates regularly all along. Darn you Facebook!
I’m curious how many people you can add to “show more about this person.”
Matt Stigliano says
It’s hard to listen to everyone at all times, so the numbers would have to be broken down into very complex formulas that take into account too many factors. Regardless, I think the numbers are just another attempt at quantifying social media (back to the ROI discussion basically). In real estate, we love to throw around the 80/20 rule – so much so, that I think it has become our own self-fulfilling prophecy.
We rely on numbers and stats in a way that I don’t think they’re meant for. Human behavior, although predictable at times, isn’t always as simple as a formula. No one loves science more than me, but there has to be a way to account for the variables – not of the simple x variety, but those that are wildly unpredictable – for instance, it’s cloudy today, so cool outside, because of that I’m more likely to read Facebook a little more in depth as I sip my coffee because I’m not melting in the morning sun on my patio.
As well, I think you have to apply the differentiation between hearing and listening to social media. I heard this blog post when it was posted, but didn’t listen to it until today. If I’m going to actively listen, I need to know I’m ready to do so, so sometimes I just glance over it and think – I’ll need to come back at some point and actually listen (ie read, comment, dissect, learn). Sometimes I forget to do that or the post/comment/update gets buried and I never come back.
Hopefully, during the talk there was encouragement to engage and interact with people more so that there is a better statistical chance that they will see you and hopefully listen. There is a way to increase that edge, but I don’t have a formula. 😉
Kelley Skar says
I couldn’t agree more with your post. Telling people that are new to SMM or are thinking about getting into SM to increase brand awareness and connect with their social sphere, that 90% of the people that you are(will) be connected to is irresponsible.
I do however agree, to a point, with the first part of the statement of the ‘1-9’ rule. It is of course going to vary from person to person. I personally have around 920 connections on Facebook and can honestly say that I probably interact with about 10% on a daily, weekly, monthly basis.
I do not believe for a second that the other 830 people are there ‘listening’. I am sure that if I were to ‘cull the herd’ down to a level where I felt like I could and would interact with more people on a personal and deeper level I would have fewer connections than the ‘average’person on FB.
At the end of the day, I completely agree with your conclusion about the recording of actual data, we will not know true numbers until we start tracking hard facts and figures.
Thanks for another fantastic post!
Jon Cheplak says
Great points. In my experience of social media or any other arena for that matter, when given the privilege to share with a group on a subject or environment, it’s just a MUST to share from a space of “In My Experience”,. From there it must be backed with documented results/measurement and specific action steps that facilitated the results. Now we have some merit and credibility. So true in the danger of declaring overarching numbers that may look good and or sound good, but is there anything behind the curtain? Everyone brings their own level of expertise to the table in the social media space. From those that have logged in once, to those that drive their business on a daily basis in those spaces, both are levels of expertise 🙂 There is so much noise out there of “Do’s” and “Dont’s” of social media and quite entertaining to observe. I see and hear self proclaimed “Social Media Gurus” continually share a list of “Dont’s”, a list of actions my entire staff is “Doing” and enrolled in on a daily basis that contributes at a very high level to the growth of our different business silos. “Only post a certain amount of times a day”, “Don’t mix business with personal” and the list goes on and on. I can argue those two points heard over and over from “social media experts” with continued measured results, but that’s just “my experience”. At some level we are all figuring out the social media space on a daily basis (trial and error for me, with lots of errors, but the willingness to take those risks). Caution in what we share when given an audience is critical. Maybe a bit extreme, but integrity is at stake and measured in what we share, especially when given an audience. I check myself regularly and know I can constantly improve in what I share and how I share it.
Happy Grasshopper says
Did you know that 90% of all statistics are made up on the spot? 🙂
As a lover of science, I am going to do a simple test on my Facebook page.
If you would like me to send you $100 please post here, even if you are just listening. Thank you.
I’ll return later with the data.
Jeff Turner says
Headed to your facebook page now.
Happy Grasshopper says
The results are in – sorry for the shameless self promo at the end. We’re a start-up. http://activerain.com/blogsview/2460114/who-is-listening-on-facebook-
Jeff Turner says
Love the shameless self promo… and I love the post. 🙂
Michael J. Maher says
Celeste is good people. I like Happy Grasshopper. 🙂 +m2
Imran Poladi says
Loving the conversation. I wish all of you were there to hear the entire talk. It’s tough to put everything into perspective into 140 characters.
Anyways… love the blog post. Nice work, Jeff.
Jeff Turner says
Imran, I agree. Thanks for helping ignite it.
Michael J. Maher says
I’d guess 0% were listening. Really listening. Listening is understanding the words and hearing the music. They see, they respond, perhaps even engage. But listening is an art form.
Just like this post. You saw what was posted. You reacted (with your usual brilliance 🙂 with a blogpost. We’re all re-acting, but Imran could have had all sorts of adjectives and softer words in what he said (“potential” maybe, “if we’re lucky” perhaps, etc.). I’d guess Bob was really listening, and the problem with “listening” online is we only get the text, not the spirit.
P.S. Your bottom-line point about being careful with “stats” and “specifics” is spot on and I did listen to you to the extent the electronic communication allowed me to do so. =0) Luckily, I know your spirit… because I’ve met you offline.
Amber Cook says
I would have to agree. Most people are so worried about expressing themselves that they aren’t really listening. One of the reasons I like Twitter is that I can process more info because it comes to me in short pieces that I can sort through easier and pick out what I’d like to read and get through more info faster. Some of the most enlightening articles I’ve read I never would have found if it weren’t for Twitter and it’s awesome users.