Facebook Users Get More Information Than They Give: Pew

Facebook users like to get more information than they give on the world's leading social network, according to a small Pew Internet Project study. The question is how Facebook can boost user engagement beyond just power users.

Facebook's IPO will newly mint many millionaires, but many of the social network's 845 million users can't be accorded the same largesse.

The majority of Facebook users receive more from their Facebook friends than they give, according to new information from the Pew Internet Project, which only counted from a small pool of 269 respondents who agreed to release their activity data.

For example, while 63 percent of users surveyed received at least one friend request, only 40 percent of those users owned up to making a friend request. Also, users clicked Facebook's ubiquitous Like button on their friends' content on average of 14 times, yet had their content "Liked" an average of 20 times.

Need more evidence? While 12 percent of users admitting to tagging a friend in a photo, a whopping 35 percent of those users were tagged themselves in a picture. Finally, users copped to sending nine messages on Facebook while they received 12.

Keith Hampton, the lead author of the Pew Internet report, called the activity patterns "fascinating," noting the results are skewed by so-called "power users" who contribute much more content than the typical user.

"Most Facebook users are moderately active over a one month time period, so highly active power users skew the average," Hampton wrote in his Feb. 3 report.

"Second, these power users constitute about 20 percent to 30 percent of Facebook users, but the striking thing is that there are different power users depending on the activity in question. One group of power users dominates friending activity. Another dominates "liking" activity. And yet another dominates photo tagging."

Hampton also learned that users' friends on Facebook tend to have more friends than they do. The average person in Pew's sample had 245 Facebook friends. However, the average friend of users in the sample had 359 Facebook friends of their own.

What all of this means as Facebook prepares to consummate its $5 billion IPO, expected to be the largest for a U.S. Internet company in the history of publicly traded companies, is less clear.

Perhaps there will be a way Facebook can entice some of the non-power users to become more active on the Website, offering incentives for sharing more information.

Or perhaps Facebook will incent power users to reach out to the more isolated users on the network. Facebook user brand pages, suggested on the right-hand side of users' accounts, may certainly help.

The company will certainly find some way to make money from many of its users via advertising. The IPO will certainly put pressure on the company to cement its revenue streams.

One thing that is clear: The network effect remains strong. Pew said some Facebook users with large, sparsely connected friend lists could reach an average of more than 150,000 other Facebook users through friends of friends. However, even the average users could reach more than 31,000 people.

Pew offered some more stats:

On average users make seven new Facebook friends per month; they initiated three requests and accepted four.

Eighty percent of friend requests that are initiated are accepted.

Women average 11 updates to their Facebook status per month while men average six.

More than half the Facebook users in our sample did not send a private message; 59 percent did receive a message.

On average, Facebook users contribute about four comments/Likes for every status update that they make.

Less than 5 percent of users hid content from another user on their Facebook feed.