The Zuckerberg Law – Is It True for Brands?

Awhile back, Mark Zuckerberg proposed an ambitious formula about the future of social sharing. He claimed that sharing would increase exponentially over time. Three years later, we have the data to look at his assertion, applying it to brands. The results are very surprising...

The Zuckerberg Law – Is It True for Brands?
“I would expect that next year, people will share twice as much information as they share this year, and next year, they will be sharing twice as much as they did the year before.” – Mark Zuckerberg, November 6th 2008

When Zuckerberg proposed his Law of Social Sharing, it claimed that sharing on social media would have a growth similar to the equation, Y = C * 2^X. In this equation, X stands for time, Y for the amount of sharing, and C is a constant. As he said then, “I would expect that next year, people will share twice as much information as they share this year, and next year, they will be sharing twice as much as they did the year before.”

It’s now 2014, and using our data, we wanted to see if the Law might apply not only for personal users, but for brands as well. If we look at a random sample of how brand pages posted content in the past three years (ignoring ads and “unpublished posts”, and focusing only on admin posts), this is what we found:

From 2010 to 2012, the Zuckerberg Law appears to hold true. The growth more than doubles each year. However, when we get to 2013, the growth slows down. While that should not distract from the incredible rise in posting by brands – from 5 to 42 posts per month, that is a huge difference! – our extrapolated theory does break down a bit. So what exactly is happening?

From our data, we believe that social media has reached an inflection point. As more brands (and users) continue to post content, eventually the frequency of sharing reaches a limit. We are coming to the point, possibly, of peak attention. There is only so much that a user is willing to read and process in their News Feed before it becomes information overload. Correspondingly, this means that the traffic of brand and user posts has reached a saturation limit, with most brands putting up only 1 or 2 posts per day. Right now, brands should be posting between 1 and 3 posts per day for maximum engagement.

So in this case, at least as far as brands are concerned, Mark got it mostly right. Brand posting has experienced exponential growth between 2010 and 2012, until it reached a roof and levelled off from 2013 and onward. As quantity becomes less important (this saturation limit won’t change anytime soon), the quality of your brand’s content becomes more important. In the current News Feed noise of ads, promoted posts, unpublished posts, and regular brand and user posts, the question that needs to be asked is: which will be clicked on, and which will be ignored?

Social Media Analyst

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