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You're Reaching More People on Facebook Than You Think

A new study shows that Facebook users' perceptions differ from their reality. Most users have a larger reach than they think.

Think that guy you worked with six years ago who always likes your Facebook statuses must be the only one seeing them? Think again.

A new study from the Stanford University Computer Science Department and Facebook data science team showed that the majority of Facebook users are reaching more than three times as many people as they think. An analysis of the activity of 220,000 U.S. Facebook users over the course of June 2012 demonstrated that each post is seen by approximately one in three of a user’s friends.

Additionally, researchers explored the disparity between Facebook users’ perceptions of their audience and the statistical reality, and likened communicating via Facebook and other social media sites to “speaking to an audience from behind a curtain.”

Some other highlights: 

  • Facebook users consistently underestimate their audience size, believing their posts are seen by just 27 percent of the number of users actually viewing them.
  •  About 50 percent of participants in the study expressed a desire for a bigger audience, yet all of them had estimated a far lower volume of viewers than they actually had.
  • People who don’t regularly “like” or comment on your posts are still reading them. “Social systems have more viewers than contributors” stated the study—meaning that most people receiving your posts aren’t actively responding to them.



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