Your posts on Facebook, like the milk in your refrigerator, have a half-life. Unlike Carbon-14’s 5,730 years, or milk’s 3-day half-life, your Facebook post will get half of its “likes” in the first 1 hour and 20 minutes after posting.
A new study by online promotion company Visibli looked at the behaviors of more than 200 million Facebook users (nearly one-third of all users), tracking the comments and Likes made to the pages of brands, artists, and media outlets on Facebook.
Eighty minutes after a post, it reached its half-life. Seven hours after a Facebook post, 80 percent of engagement with that post is complete. The study concludes “…that marketers can take solace in the fact that Facebook posts are much more resilient than Twitter posts. To avoid cannibalizing Likes from earlier posts, companies may delay future posts until they have maximized engagement on previous ones,” according to the study.
In part, this is likely due to the Facebook page structure and whether users are using the default “Top News” view, or click on the “Most Recent” view. It’s also much simpler: People just want to know what’s new with their family and friends.
Other studies show Twitter posts have a much shorter half-life, in part because of how the content is consumed. Most Twitter posts are viewed either on Twitter (which displaying more than 50 posts becomes time-consuming) or through other tools like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck that provide different viewing features of the Twitter ecosystem. Both tools also allow the integration of other social sites like Facebook and LinkedIn.
If you are creating content for these platforms, there are a lot of lessons to be learned.
Creating content for Facebook and Twitter is like creating content for newspapers and radio. People interact with the content differently, and there is a significant difference in how long it takes for users of that content deem it to be out of date. The best way to know how your customers interact with your content is to measure the results and content types (as I mentioned in a recent article). The important part is to measure and test each social media platform “ecosystem” differently. Some content repurposes very well, and you will find that other content seems to favor a specific audience.
The study also noted differences in which study segment got the most attention. “Media organizations receive significantly more Comments per post (43 per post) than artists (17) or brands (only 9). While people are more likely to comment on current news, they will simply “Like” an artist’s post and then move on.”
The research found that “for brands and media organizations, Pages with fewer fans have greater engagement on a per capita basis than Pages with a higher number of fans. As the number of fans on a Page increases, engagement levels decrease.” For artists, the opposite is true: The greater the number of fans, the greater the engagement.
The big takeaway: Yes, content has a half-life. But successfully engage with your fans and treat them the way they want to be treated and you become the rock star.