How Do People Use Facebook?
In this survey we polled 325 users to learn about the ways they are using Facebook.
We don’t pretend that this represents the entire population, and it certainly does not represent the largest user profiles on Facebook or any business pages. This is intended as a sampling of 325 randomly sampled users to see how much awareness they had of some specific aspects of Facebook. We asked 20 questions, and broke those down into these 7 sections:
- Baseline information on the participants
- Trends in general usage patterns
- General information on how they use Facebook
- Graph Search awareness and usage
- Facebook privacy concerns
- Facebook advertising – annoying or not?
- Their best and worst experiences
The data in sections 4, 5, & 6 is quite interesting, and I look forward to comments and feedback on the results! Our plan is to redo this survey in 6 months to see how things change. Let’s see what we found!
Section 1: Baseline Data
With these questions we were just setting up a baseline on the people who took part in the survey.
1) How many Facebook friends do you have?
2) How many Facebook groups are you a member of?
3) How many hours per week do you spend on Facebook?
4) How often do you post status updates on Facebook?
5) Are your Facebook posts public or private?
Section 2: Usage Trends
This one was interesting because we got literally the same counts for both questions in the survey. For the most part, there was no indication of any disillusionment with Facebook, or any surge or enthusiasm either.
6) Are you currently using Facebook more or less than you did six months ago?
7) Do you think you will be using Facebook more or less than you do currently 6 months from now?
Section 3: How They Use Facebook
This block of questions covers how they use Facebook in 3 general ways.
8) Do you ever ask your friends questions on Facebook?
9) Do you use the video chat option for Facebook messaging?
10) Do you use hashtags on Facebook?
Section 4: Graph Search
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This is one of the core questions of our survey. We wanted to know if they knew what Graph Search was, and whether or not they were using it. Only about 10% of users polled said that they had used Graph Search.
11) Do you know what Graph Search is?
12) If you do know what Graph Search is, have you used it?
Section 5: Privacy
In this section we explored whether or not they made major concerns with privacy issues. We included friending either your boss or parents in this category of questions.
13) Are you friends with your boss on Facebook?
14) Are you friends with your parents on Facebook?
15) How do you feel about Facebook’s privacy policies?
Section 6: Facebook Ads
This was a check to see if people were truly annoyed by Facebook becoming more commercial. Clearly, there is a significant portion of people who don’t like it, but the majority of people are accepting of the commercialization of the platform.
16) How often do you click on Facebook ads?
17) How do you feel about Facebook’s Promoted Posts?
18) How do you feel about Facebook becoming more commercialized?
Section 7: Best and Worst Facebook Experiences
19) What was the best thing that’s happened to you as a result of Facebook use?
This was a free form text question where the survey participant was allowed to enter in whatever they wanted. The table below shows these mapped into broad general categories. We then follow that with some of the more interesting responses.
|Reconnecting & staying connected||121|
|Finding old friends||49|
|Met new people/made new friends||45|
|Networking, marketing, money-making opportunities||37|
|General social use/sharing||22|
|Staying up on current events and news||7|
Notable Individual Responses
- “I got to talk to my son in Oregon I hadn’t seen in four years.”
- “I was cast in a movie!”
- “Built my relationship to marriage level.”
- “I won a contest for a $100 gift card.”
- “Meeting my spouse.”
- “I have regular contact with my family overseas.”
- “I found a long lost best friend.”
- “Expanding my client base.”
- “Got a job!”
- “Found a roommate.”
20) What was the worst thing that’s happened to you as a result of Facebook use?
As with the prior question, this was also a free form text question. The table below shows these mapped into broad general categories, and below we show some of the more interesting specific responses.
|Rude people and embarrassing posts||28|
|“Ex’s” and break-ups||19|
|Stalkers/Being found by people you don’t want to find you||36|
|Getting Banned from Facebook||4|
Notable Individual Responses
- “Caught my boyfriend cheating”
- “Was stalked by my ex, who friend-ed me, using a fake profile… Ughh…frightening!”
- “Finding out about all the family events I don’t get invited to.”
- “Not enough likes on my posts.”
- “I ended up failing a class.”
- “Feeling obligated to accept friend requests from people I didn’t genuinely like.”
- “I hate most of my friends now that I know what they’re thinking 24/7.”
- “Some people are drama queens and their posts can be horrible.”
- “I became addicted to Facebook.”
What did you think about the above results? Are there questions you want us to ask next time? Let us know in the comments!
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We surveyed 325 people via Mechanical Turk. Before you scoff at the results, take a moment and read about the demographics of Mechanical Turk here. While the average income levels are a bit lower than the US population, we don’t see that as significantly biasing the results of the test.
All participants were required to go to a survey page where they needed to be logged in to participate in the survey. All participants were also required to be US residents.
Each respondent was paid a small fee for their response. Incomplete responses and those that were filled with obvious errors were discarded.
How were the users selected (found and contacted)?
Kevin – added methodology to the end of the post. Should have that done up front, so thanks for pointing that out!
Hey Eric, thanks for the added response…but how does Mechanical Turk select its sample???
The cited article only breaks down the demographics (on a speed read through it). What about actual methodology. What I’m not getting is how this sample is considered “random”? Maybe many people know what Mechanical Turk is or how it works, but I don’t. Do people actively look for paid surveys and pick one that they want to participate in? Are people contacted through some kind of email list? Are people self-selecting for the “study”?
Nice job! some metrics are very intresting. Curious that some “advanced” features like Graph search, video chat and even Hashtags don’t look popular…
Kevin – people on Mechanical Turk are there looking to perform micro-projects in return for cash. The money to be made is actually relatively small, and a review of the demographics shows that the overwhelming majority of the participants are in no way hard up for cash. There are MANY different types of projects available on MT, and surveys are a very small percentage of them. FYI, MT is an Amazon run business.
Thanks for the detailed study. This is good. Hash tag usage is on a rise
Eric, I love this post. I am ever curious about Facebook usage and especially how users feel about advertising and how effective is it. As you said, this is a small group study, but very interesting statistics. And quite suprising. I guess I’m in the minority of people bothered by the heavy advertising. Great info here, none the less. Thanks again, Eric!