ComScore Report: 27% of Facebook Browsing on News Feed, Just 10% on Apps

Today, internet marketing research company comScore released a white paper detailing which Facebook features receive the most usage and where users interact with branded content. The report shows that 27% of Facebook browsing is on the news feed and home page — 4% of all time spent online in the US.  21% of time was spent on profiles, 17% on Photos, 10% on applications, and 25% on the rest of the site. Most engagement with branded content happens on the news feed, not Pages, yet the average brand in the top 100 Facebook Pages reaches only 16% of their fans per week if they post five days a week.

These stats should illuminate that brands should put more effort into optimizing their news feed posts than developing apps for their Pages if they want to reach the most people. The report is based on a two million person opt-in panel of web internet users that agreed to be monitored, so the sample size is ample though it might skew towards savvier, less skittish users.

Most Time Spent on News Feed and Photos, Not Apps

Facebook’s Photos feature is often considered a core driver of time spent on Facebook. ComScore’s stats showing more usage of the news feed than Photos don’t necessarily disprove this, as time spent reading news feed stories and notifications generated by photo uploads and tags are counted towards the news feed’s time. Facebook has yet to develop other features as popular as the news feed or Photos.

Some might expect that applications and games would take up more than 10% of user time. In September 2010, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said over 200 million people, or roughly 40% of users were playing games on Facebook when the service had 500 million users, and that stat might still hold true. A few months prior, Playdom CEO cited undisclosed personal sources saying 40% of all time on Facebook was spent on games — a much higher percentage than comScore’s figures. These new stats should serve as a reality check that brands shouldn’t be too focused on building tab applications or marketing within social games.

Brands Must Focus on the News Feed

ComScore’s data supports a similar conclusion as findings by Facebook Page analytics tool provider PageLever, which showed that the average Facebook Page receives an average of just 7.49 news feed post impressions and only 3.19 unique Page views per day per 100 fans. Essentially, each post a Page publishes only reaches a small fraction of its total fans via the news feed, and an even smaller portion of its fans visit the Page itself.

Pages that want to increase the percentage of their fans which they reach with news feed posts should make sure to post every day. A study of the top 100 Pages showed that for each additional day per week that a Page posts, it reaches 2.5% more of its fan base. Those that post every day can reach as much of 22% of their fan base each week.

A study of three popular brands on Facebook, Starbucks, Bing, and Southwest Airlines, showed that they saw 40 to 151 times more impressions in the news feed than on their Pages. While this study only had three data points, marketers should take note of the disproportionate amount of exposure that occurs in the news feed. This is partly because re-shares of news feed posts by a Page’s fans help drive news feed exposure.

ComScore’s white paper also stresses that a great deal of potential for exposure lies in the friends of a brand’s current fans. If Pages can post content compelling enough that fans are willing to re-share it, they can reach a huge new audience. This is because Facebook has said for years that the average user has 130 friends, though we’ve heard that could be closer to 170 now. ComScore’s report shows that the total count of the friends of fans of Facebook’s most popular Pages is on average 31 to 84 times higher than the fan counts of those Pages.

In conclusion, users are spending the most time on the news feed, and thats where engagement with brands happens. Brands should post every day and aim to attain high levels of Likes, comments, and re-shares to increase the visibility of their posts and maximize exposure to both fans and their friends

For Page posting strategy tips that can help you leverage your existing fan base and gain new Likes, visit the Facebook Marketing Bible, Inside Network’s complete guide to marketing and advertising through Facebook.