The Case Against Facebook As A Community Platform

December 1, 2011Comments Off

People get upset when you claim Facebook is a bad community platform. 

But the case is compelling. Lets look at some figures

Of Coca-Cola's 34 million fans, only 56,000 are active (0.2 percent of the total). Disney's engagement is .03 percent; Starbucks, often lauded as a social media leader, is 1.3 percent; and McDonald's doesn't register (only about 3,900 fans can be considered active). Compared to offline engagement, these numbers represent a relatively small percentage of active consumers.

Yet, this is misleading. Active is defined as having made a single action (e.g. clicked like on a post within the past month). The gap between clicking like and posting a comment is huge. 

If we go through the figures, we see that the number of active fans to real contributions (making a post/comment) is in the region of 10% – 50%. 

Does an active community member only post once per month? I doubt it.

An active fan usually makes several comments a month. If each active fan posts just 5 comments a month (a low figure by community standards), the number of truly active fans drops by 80% or more. The more they post, the lower the number of active members.

Even if this were not the case, 56,000 fans who make one contribution a month is hardly a sign of a healthy, engaged, community. 

We either have a large number of people who have made 1 contribution or a tiny number of highly active fans. Possibly as low as a few hundred. Remember, this is from 34m.

A dedicated community builder using a community-based platform (Drupal, Joomla, VBulletin, PHPBB, Pluck, Ning, BuddyPress, Teligent, Lithium, Jive etc…) will easily top that figure. Better yet, they will do it on a platform developed specifically for communities, which they control and where they can contact all members. 

Facebook isn't the best community platform, it's quite possibly the worst. 

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