Ever wondered how some businesses attract over 1,000 fans to their Facebook Pages, and others don’t? A new research report on Facebook Pages offers insights into how Pages grow and debunks the myth that a few people can create a “snowball effect” of Fans. Inside Facebook recently revealed the results of a study of Facebook Page popularity growth by researcher Cameron Marlow. The report (Gesundheit! Modeling Contagion through Facebook Newsfeed) paints a picture of exactly how Facebook Pages become popular. Marlow’s empirical investigation of 262,985 Facebook Pages reveals that Facebook Page growth is “not usually the result of a single chain-reaction event,” but rather the confluence of a large number of users. After looking at every Facebook Page with over 1,00 fans (as of August 2008), the report concludes:
Pages accrue fans as a result of many different clusters of connected people becoming fans.
The single most important action that creates these clusters is when a user becomes a Fan and broadcasts this action to their friends’ news feeds.
Here is how it works: individuals arrive independently at a Page, become a Fan, and (ideally) publicize this action through the News Feed. Publicizing the action creates that person’s chain of “start nodes.” A start node is a mini-cluster of Fans. The mini-clusters eventually merge through interconnecting relationships to form a relatively large-sized cluster. According to Marlow’s research, the median large Page had 69.48% of its fans in one connected cluster.
Here are some interesting findings pulled from the report:
1. People within the “start nodes” tend to have more Facebook friends than those who do not start nodes.
2. More of the “start nodes” have active Facebook users than the non-start nodes. The study concludes that active users are more likely to understand how to find, use and pass along Facebook fan pages to their friends.
3. The large Facebook Pages consist of a majority of Fans who are connected in one large cluster consisting of many chains of start nodes. In other words, there are many, many small nodes/chains of people that converge rather than a few large chains that converge to create Fan Page with high numbers.
4. Facebook chains of Fans tend to involve more people and be longer-lasting than word-of mouth chains. In this study, 86.4% of paths that people took to become fans involved a chain of at least four people. In an earlier word of mouth study, only 38% of paths involved four individuals. What does this mean? Fan Pages can fully leverage the “six degrees of separation” inherent in a large social media platform, and especially Facebook.
5. The only way to assure that the chain of people is long is to “increase the likelihood that a Page fanning action occurs in other users’ News Feeds.”
Creating a Facebook Page is much more than “opening the doors” and simply inviting people to “fan” the Page. The News Feed acts as the “ignition” to influence and entice new followers. The implications for Facebok Page owners are:
- Creating a Fan Page must take into account a strategy to encourage supporters to broadcast their decision to become a Fan in their News Feeds. Just inviting people to become fans will not be enough to create a large Fan page.
- Organizations and businesses with Fan Pages should think strategically about working with groups of interconnected people to become “evangelists” for the Page.
How will you incorporate the findings from this research into your Facebook Page strategy?