Every time Facebook goes through changes there is a hue and cry about how this is it, the last straw, the death knell of the #1 Social Media platform.

To paraphrase Mark Twain, rumors of Facebook’s demise are greatly exaggerated.

Nielsen just released their August 2011 report on the top US web brands. As has consistently been the case, Google remains the #1 brand in terms of total audience. This is what you would expect from the King Of All Search.

Facebook maintains its usual #2 ranking on this list – for total audience. However, they dwarf all other brands in time spent on site. For several months this particular metric has been declining. Some took this as a sign that the bloom is off the rose for Facebook. That Google+ was making in-roads and that, in general, people were just tired of the King Of Social Media.

They were wrong. The average US Internet user spends an average of seven hours and 45 minutes a month on Facebook. That works out to an average of 15 minutes a day. The key word here is average. With 163 million users monthly the time spent on-line will vary greatly. Still, if you think that number is small – compare it to Google. Their 176 million visitors spend an average of 3 minutes a day on the site.

This all makes perfect sense when you consider that each site fills completely different needs. you are more likely to linger on Facebook because there is a possibility of a conversation. google is the yellow pages – get what you need and leave.

So, what does this mean when it comes to using Facebook as a marketing vehicle – besides the fact that it is a big pond with a lot of fish compared to Google? Go beyond the metrics and think of the sociology involved.

Google ads are presented exactly where and when you need them – when you are looking for specific information about a specific product. Everything is designed around today’s short attention span. As sophisticated as this is, Google advertising is invasive. Old school in a new school way.

The same can be said for Facebook ads. Despite their innovations with sponsored stories and even newer ideas – the real reason businesses and non-profits are using Facebook is for the FREE advertising potential it offers. Buying Facebook ads is a relatively simple process. Yes, the smarter you are the better you’ll do – but it’s not like producing a TV spot or buying a radio campaign.

This gets back to the age-old debate over engagement and posting frequency. I’ll save the engagement/content debate for another blog. suffices it to say you better be interesting in your audience’s eyes if you want to cut through.

What about posting frequency? Combine the above data with intuitive observations of how the new Facebook Ticker and News Feed operate and you will see that getting your “content” in front of your audience is – at best – a crap shoot. It is pretty well established that 90% of your fans will interact with you through their Newsfeed -not on your page. So, all those pretty apps and graphics are going unnoticed. You need to be in your audience’s face – frequently and with purpose.

Let’s take the “average” Facebook user. Say they check their page for five minutes before work, for five minutes after lunch and for five minutes at home. With their average of 130 friends and 9.8 brand pages – what are the chances they will see your content in those confined windows? Forget noticing, interacting or sharing. The caching of “Top stories since your last visit” helps but can still lead to information overload.

Logic dictates that there is a bell curve of involvement on Facebook. For every 15 minute user there is a one minute and a 30 minute user, and so on. Chances are that the people who have taken the time to like you are probably more engaged than the average user – which works in your favor.

In the end you need to develop a Facebook strategy that is a combination of content and frequency. Can you create two, three or more relevant pieces of content every day? If so – then do it! Your fan base will let you know if you are over posting. Just watch your Insights.

There is an old adage in radio advertising – frequency sells. This is not a cliché – it is something born of truth and results. The same can apply to your Facebook posting strategy. As long as you have the right messages.

To see the above quoted Nielsen study, click here.

Steve Allan, Social Media Specialist, SMThree