Does Facebook Have A Sharing Problem?

Global Web Index survey shows a steep year-over-year drop in people's sharing activity on Facebook. The social network denies the trend but has been making more efforts to prompt conversation.

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Facebook might be facing a sharing shortage.

A new survey by market research firm Global Web Index found that users aren’t posting as often on the social network. That could eventually pose a problem for a company that depends on user-generated content to keep its audience interested and engaged.

In the third quarter, the GWI survey showed that 34 percent of Facebook users updated their status, down from 50 percent in the same period last year. The drop was even greater for photo sharing, plunging from 59 percent to 37 percent.

It’s not that people are visiting Facebook less. GWI’s quarterly survey of 50,000 internet users, including nearly 40,000 on Facebook, found that 65 percent visit Facebook daily, but these days, they are lurking more and posting less.

Not surprisingly, Facebook is disputing the results of the survey, which was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

“People continue to share a ton on Facebook and the overall level of sharing has remained not only strong, but similar to levels in prior years,” a Facebook spokesperson wrote in an email to Marketing Land.

Even so, Facebook has been making efforts to prompt its 1.49 billion users to share more. Since last spring, it has been displaying prompts to ongoing events in people’s News Feeds, as an encouragement to post about them.

The prompts are often personalized, based on people’s interests. For instance, a fan of the Golden State Warriors might be reminded that her favorite team is playing today. Facebook also has reminded people of holidays, the lunar eclipse and the premier of the new season of “The Walking Dead.” Facebook says the response to the prompts has been “excellent,” and the data shows that people like them.

Facebook also recently upgraded its search feature to give searchers access to all public posts, another move that could spark more discussion about live events on Facebook and encourage people to post more and lurk less.

It’s possible that some of these efforts have already started to pay off. GWI’s data indicated that the number of “active” users, which also includes people who like posts, increased to 50 percent in the third quarter, which was up from 42 percent in the first quarter.

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About the author

Martin Beck
Martin Beck was Third Door Media's Social Media Reporter from March 2014 through December 2015.

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