Ghost Town? Study Says 70 Percent Of Facebook Pages Are Inactive

facebook-logo-square“Ghost town” is a phrase that’s been tossed around when describing the apparent low activity levels on Google+, but a new study suggests that it could also apply to business activity using Facebook Pages.

Recommend.ly, a social media tools/analytics company that we’ve covered before when it looked at Wal-Mart’s Facebook Page strategy, is now out with a wider study that looks at overall Facebook Page activity … and it isn’t pretty.

In October, the company examined more than 5.7 million Facebook Pages with at least 10 “Likes”, and used a subset of about three million Pages to dig deeper into specific category activity.

Recommend.ly found that 70 percent of the Pages it studied aren’t actively posting, with Pages in the Community, Company and Public Figure categories especially inactive.

fb-posting-habits

That chart shows how many posts per month Page owners are making across different categories during the October study. The chart below also looks at posting activity by category, but compare the average posts made between March and October. As you can see, posting activity is down in every category except “Local business.”

fb-posting-2

Page inactivity is also shown in engagement rates and the use (or lack thereof) of cover images. Recommend.ly says 64 percent of Pages have no cover photo and 83 percent never participated in conversations on their Pages.

The study also found that Business category Pages have seen a significant drop in average fan count — from 6,400 fans per Page in March to 3,233 fans per Page in October.

It all begs the obvious question: Why is Facebook Page activity declining like this?

Recommend.ly mentions that the full rollout of Timeline this spring may be to blame. And there’s also Facebook’s move to what we’ve called paid organification — i.e., the need for brands to spend money to get more eyeballs to see their “free” (organic) posts and status updates.

There’s been a lot of debate in recents weeks/months about whether Facebook is purposely making brand/business content less visible in fans’ News Feeds. That debate continues, but one thing is clear: Facebook is pushing a lot of paid content in the News Feed. That may be a serious turn-off, particularly for the small business owner that Facebook is eager to reach.

Related Topics: Channel: Strategy | Facebook | Facebook: Pages | Facebook: Statistics | Statistics: Social Media | Top News

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About The Author: is Editor-In-Chief of Marketing Land. His news career includes time spent in TV, radio, and print journalism. His web career continues to include a small number of SEO and social media consulting clients, as well as regular speaking engagements at marketing events around the U.S. He recently launched a site dedicated to Google Glass called Glass Almanac and also blogs at Small Business Search Marketing. Matt can be found on Twitter at @MattMcGee and/or on Google Plus. You can read Matt's disclosures on his personal blog.

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  • http://twitter.com/DanielCBerman Daniel C Berman

    So I guess this begs the question, have small business owners given up due to lack of customer engagement or are customers not engaging because small business owners aren’t posting? At the very least it appears the hype bubble in which social media can magically bring customers to your door has finally burst.

  • keaner

    I disagree, the bubble is still there, if done right social media can “magically bring customers” to your door. Facebook just sucks though

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=819314558 George Anders

    Fascinating study, and the core conclusion makes sense to me. But I wouldn’t regard every dormant Facebook page as a sign of social-media failure. Looking at the pages that I’ve helped create, some were for specific events such as a festival or book launch. Facebook did provide a useful rallying point during the relevant promotional period. Once that had come and gone, there wasn’t much need to keep the page going.

    In a real-world business, those sorts of dormant Facebook pages would be like the flyers that get posted on bulletin boards, store windows, etc., and then get removed when their time has passed. One of the many oddities of Facebook is that old posts and pages linger on in full view, even when that doesn’t serve anyone’s interests.

  • http://twitter.com/KarenMKaro Karen Karo

    I believe people are getting tired of FB limiting who sees their posts. The original ideal of Social Media is being threatened by this move. If people have liked my page, they are interested in what I have to say. In essence FB is saying they know better who really wants to see my posts ( unless of course I pay for it ). FB is not supposed to be an advertising platform. It is supposed to be a social gathering spot where people can share ideas. Businesses are going to advertise where there is a receptive audience. FB users do NOT want to be advertised to. This is something FB used to respect and tried to enforce. Now it seems they are almost forcing businesses to advertise. When you focus on delivering quality your business thrives. When you focus on making money your business suffers. I believe FB has made this shift and needs to re-evaluate their position.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Keldon-McFarland/100001386924706 Keldon McFarland

    Whatever the reason for the decline in some business’ Facebook activity, there are still millions of users who are very active in non-business oriented pages.
    The hype of Facebook reaching new customers and keeping old ones is just hype. The goofy timeline, the time it takes for updates, the duplicity in having a regular website and Facebook page, all add to the overall uselessness of Facebook as a business tool.
    Facebook is more for keeping in touch with friends and family, silly pictures and ruining people’s lives when users post criminal activity or something stupid like posting a picture flipping the middle finger at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery.

  • Vikas Sharma

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