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On Facebook, ‘power users’ tip the friendship scale

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Your Facebook friends have more friends than you do, according to a new study from Pew Research. The average Facebook user has 245 friends, the survey of 877 respondents found. But the average friend on Facebook had 359 friends. This is because people are more likely to be friends with someone who has a lot of friends than someone who has only a small number of friends. Get it?

In addition to having more friends, Facebook “power users” also contribute far more content to the social network than the typical user — that is, by definition, what makes them a “power user.” Pew found that between 20 and 30 percent of Facebook users are considered a “power user” of at least one activity, like posting updates, adding photos, sending friend requests, or “liking” others’ posts. Only about 5 percent of Facebook users are considered “power users” in all these activities. Nine percent were power users on three activities, and 11 percent on two. A full 43 percent were power users on one activity.

Pew also found that women are far more active Facebook users than men. “In our sample, the average female user made 21 updates to their Facebook status in the month of observation, while the average male made six,” writes Pew.

Additional findings show that sharing posts with “friends of friends” can, on average, put your content in front of more than 150,000 people — quite a staggering number. The largest reach of a user found in the study was 7,821,772 other Facebook users.

Here are a few more interesting bits from the study:

• On average, Facebook users in our sample get more friend requests than they make: 63% received at least one friend request during the period we studied, but only 40% made a friend request.

• It is more common to be “liked” than to like others. The postings, uploads, and updates of Facebook users are liked – through the use of the “like” button – more often than these users like the contributions of others. Users in the sample pressed the like button next to friends’ content an average of 14 times per month and received feedback from friends in the form of a “like” 20 times per month.

• On average, users receive more messages than they send. In the month of our analysis, users received an average of nearly 12 private messages, and sent nine.

• People comment more often than they update their status. Users in our sample made an average of nine status updates or wall posts per month and contributed 21 comments.

• People are tagged more in photos than they tag others. Some 35% of those in our sample were tagged in a photo, compared with just 12% who tagged a friend in a photo.